Eleven months out of every year, Omaha, Nebraska is your typical midwestern All-American city. Recently named by Kiplinger.com as the #1 city in America to raise your kids, Omaha is by all accounts a big city with a wholesome small-town atmosphere. That will all change for about three weeks in late June and early July. The city, as it has done every year since 1950, will host the NCAA Men's Division I College World Series, welcoming the top eight college baseball teams in the country to the heartland. This year, however, Omaha is also home to the U.S. Olympic Swimming trials.
Both took place in Omaha in 2008, however, the difference then were the locations. The College World Series was held at iconic Johnny Rosenblatt Stadium in South Omaha until 2010. The swimming trials were held in the north-downtown CenturyLink Center (formerly Qwest Center). There were few logistical issues to deal with. This year, however, the College World Series and swim trials will take place on opposites sides of the same parking lot, with TD Ameritrade Park serving as the home of college baseball's finale as of 2011. There is a chance the two events will overlap by two days, but nonetheless, both events will go on as planned, keeping the city and its businesses very busy.
Locals will have to cope with the traffic, both from vehicles and mobs of jay-walkers travelling to and from the events. That's a small price to, though, for the financial benefits the two events bring. Joe Menaugh, the Marketing and Events Manager for the College World Series, estimates the event nets somewhere between $40 and $50 million for the local economy with an annual attendance of 330,000.
Harold Cliff of the Omaha Sports Commission says he expects the swim trials to draw between 160,000 and 170,000 attendees, with as many of 65% of those coming from outside of Omaha. He went on to say the trials should net as much as $35 million with the possibility of reaching $100 million with worldwide media exposure.
Combining the totals for both events makes for a large pie with many different Omaha businesses wanting a slice. In addition to the brick and mortar bars and restaurants already in place, everyone from jewelry stores to banks seemed to find a place to set up a beer tent near the College World Series in 2011. One traditional music bar/venue even marketed itself as a sports bar during the series, claiming to be the best place to watch the game. The cash intake from the events has a trickle-down effect. One bartender I spoke with, who preferred that both he and his employer remain anonymous, claimed he took home as much as $400 per shift in tips during the 2011 College World Series. In a city where the median household income is just over $40,000 a year. The College World Series will begin on June 14 and run through June 26.