OMAHA, Neb. -- Starting tonight, history happens here.

The College World Series Opening Ceremonies is always a special event, but this year’s celebration was even more exceptional as the event’s new home of TD Ameritrade Park officially welcomed the eight teams and fans through the gates for a new era of collegiate baseball.

The championship’s new motto – “History Happens Here” -- was illustrated a video montage of memorable moments throughout the years after a video introduction from President George H.W. Bush, who captained Yale University’s baseball team in the first two CWS in 1947 and 1948.

The teams were then brought into the stadium in an Olympic-parade style with lots of fanfare thanks to the Stepper-ettes Parade and Dance Team, which is the largest baton twirling organization in the Midwest, along with fireworks and pyrotechnics. Players had out their cell phones and flip cams, capturing every moment of the dramatic entrance.

After the team introductions, there were welcoming words by dignitaries such as Mayor of Omaha Jim Suttle and NCAA President Dr. Mark Emmert. Creighton president Rev. John P. Schlegel then introduced the players from each squad with the highest grade point average, including South Carolina junior pitcher Michael Roth (3.82 GPA) who earned the NCAA Elite 88 Award, presented to the student-athlete with the highest cumulative in the finals of each championship. Texas also won the team award for the highest GPA with a 3.07. 

Major League Baseball Hall of Famer Dave Winfield, who was the 1973 CWS Most Outstanding Player after striking out 29 batters in 17 innings, then shared some inspirational words with the players of the eight CWS teams. 

“This brings back memories from when I played in Omaha,” Winfield said.  “Although we can’t bring back some of the drama and excitement that happened over the 61 years in old Rosenblatt Stadium, but starting tomorrow each and every one of you can begin to build a new, exciting tradition in this new ballpark.”

Winfield, who was unable to attend last year’s ceremony with the rest of the CWS Legends team, also accepted his commemorative bat and jersey. 

“College baseball and this College World Series experience in Omaha meant everything to me,” Winfield said.  “It helped me mature as an athlete and a person … it gave me a special view of this world and has been a cornerstone of my life and my career.”

Following Winfield’s remarks, the U.S. Special Ops Para-Commandos parachuted from the night sky, delivering the CWS flag used at Rosenblatt Stadium. It was then brought to its new home—the flagpole in the outfield of TD Ameritrade Park—while Take Me Out to the Ballgame was performed on the old organ from Rosenblatt Stadium. 

Country music artist Martina McBride then sang patriotic favorites God Bless America and America the Beautiful followed by a spectacular fireworks display with the Omaha skyline and Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge creating a picturesque backdrop.