OKC is Omaha South
In 1997, I wrote a story comparing the early development with Omaha’s College World Series with Oklahoma City’s Women’s College World Series. Eleven years later, the similarities hold true.
In 1961, Omaha averaged less than 3,000 fans per session for the NCAA baseball championships. By the ’90s, of course, Rosenblatt Stadium had undergone several expansions, and crowds averaged more than 20,000 per session.
In 1990, Oklahoma City averaged barely 1,500 fans per session. By 1993, that average was up to 2,700. The numbers kept going up and up, even after a move off Memorial Day weekend, and the Series ended this weekend with a record average of 6,600 fans per session.
Comparisons with Omaha not only are accurate, they are perhaps prescient. Oklahoma City, the Amateur Softball Association and the All Sports Association keep working together to upgrade and expand Hall of Fame Stadium, and the fans keep coming. Bigger and bigger crowds, bigger and bigger atmosphere. ESPN plays a big part, no doubt, enticing viewers who eventually decide to make the pilgrimage.
I don’t know what the limit is. Omaha might have topped out. It is building a new stadium, but I don’t think the new stadium can hold 30,000 or 40,000. Eventually, OKC will top out, too, although there is plenty of room and all kinds of options to make Hall of Fame Stadium even bigger. But it is not crazy to believe that in the very near future, sessions of the WCWS will draw 10,000 on average.
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