OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — The City of Omaha paid tribute to the NCAA administrator who helped forge a long-term agreement to keep the College World Series in Nebraska's largest city, unveiling a monument to him Friday outside TD Ameritrade Park in the newly named Dennis Poppe Plaza.
Poppe, 66, retired as vice president of championships and alliances in January after 39 years at the NCAA. He ran the College World Series from 1987 to 2013, with the tournament growing into a major national event.
Poppe, who lives in Indianapolis, said he considers Omaha his family's second home. He said he was humbled by the 8-foot aluminum monument and plaza.
"It means a lot to me," Poppe said, "but in the long run it's going to mean more to my family because whenever they come here, they'll say, 'That was dad' or, 'That was grandpa.'"
Mayor Jean Stothert was joined by former mayors P.J. Morgan, Hal Daub, Mike Fahey and Jim Suttle at the dedication ceremony.
"You are Omaha family," Stothert told Poppe, "and it's a big family. As you can see here today, it's grateful for your vision, the expertise you provided to bring TD Ameritrade Park downtown and the NCAA's long-term commitment to Omaha."
The CWS has been played in Omaha every year since 1950. When the city decided to stop putting money into an aging Rosenblatt Stadium and build 24,000-seat TD Ameritrade Park, the NCAA rewarded Omaha with a 25-year contract that keeps the CWS in the city through 2035. The stadium opened in 2011. Dennis Poppe Plaza is on the southwest side near the ticket windows.
"It means a lot that this is a gathering place," Poppe said. "It's kind of a central area for people to come down here, and that's what I like — the coming together of family and friends and all that."