CWS 2023: Big Ten baseball tourney helps Omaha prepare for College World Series

The Big Ten Baseball Tournament comes to town Tuesday -- a primer of sorts ahead of the College World Series.
Published: May. 22, 2023 at 10:30 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - If college baseball is a proving ground for young athletes, the same could be said of those who work behind the scenes in concessions, ticketing, and more.

There are new employees, brought on board by MECA a few months ago, and they haven’t worked anything this big at the ballpark yet. Once the Big Ten tourney begins Tuesday, they’ll get the chance to show what they’ve got.

“Unfortunately, there’s no way to learn other than on the fly,” MECA director of communications Kristyna Engdahl said. “This does give a chance to kind of learn the ropes, you know get back in the swing of things with concessions, because it’s a different animal over here than it is over at the arena, and to find our footing when there’s even more baseball fans definitively on the way in June.”

From the outside, Charles Schwab Field indeed looks College World Series-ready, but those are Big Ten banners in place. This is May, not June. No offense to Nebraska and the other seven teams competing, but to those who work the stadium, the tournament provides a perfect dress rehearsal for the CWS.

“This will help us understand the things that do you work the things that don’t work,” Engdahl said. “And we’re always taking a look at ways that we can improve our operations (and) speed of services.”

The Big Ten tournament has been held five times in Omaha. The first at what was then named TD Ameritrade Park in 2014 when Nebraska lost to Indiana in the final. In the first year as Charles Schwab Field last year, Michigan beat this year’s regular season champs Rutgers in the championship game.

One thing you can’t control is the weather, but you can plan for it, especially when it comes to the heat.

“We’ve added a water monster under the concourse so we make sure that if it’s hot out people have regular access to water,” Engdahl said. “(The Big Ten tourney shows) those things that make us look at the elements, look around and look at the community to decide what we may need to be prepared for.”

She also points out that fans who just want to see plenty of baseball may find the Big Ten tournament a bargain.

“For the College World Series you buy a ticket for each individual game but for the Big Ten tournament you buy a ticket for Tuesday or Wednesday or Thursday and that (gets) you into the entire day of games,” Engdahl said. “So if you’re somebody who just wants to come out and enjoy a full day of baseball, this is the tournament for you.”