OMAHA, Neb. –– Major League Baseball is coming to the College World Series in 2019.
MLB commissioner Rob Manfred announced Thursday that the Kansas City Royals and Detroit Tigers will play a regular season game on June 13, 2019 at TD Ameritrade Park Omaha ahead of the 2019 CWS.
The game will be held during the week before the College World Series as a kickoff event. It will be the first MLB game played in conjunction with the CWS.
“I’m here to say this afternoon to make official what everyone in this room already knows, and based on the social media coverage, half of America already knows on June 13 next year, 2019, the Kansas City Royals and the Detroit Tigers are going to play a game here at TD Ameritrade Park," Manfred said in a press conference Thursday afternoon.
"Over the last four years, we have pursued two initiatives that are probably most important to us. The first was to united the various institutions that are involved in baseball, broadly defined, under the umbrella of play and one baseball. And the second was to bring Major League Baseball to places where we don’t play every day. This game continues to advance both of these initiatives. The College World Series, in and of itself, is a great event with a great tradition. We hope by playing here we’ll be bringing even more attention to this game and strengthen our relationship with the NCAA and college baseball as a whole. ... The game here in Omaha will be the next step in this important initiative."
The @Royals and @tigers will play a regular season game in Omaha, Nebraska on Thursday, June 13, 2019 leading into the 2019 College World Series. The first MLB game ever played in Nebraska will be televised nationally by ESPN and played at TD Ameritrade Park Omaha.— MLB Communications (@MLB_PR) June 21, 2018
The 2019 College World Series will run from June 15-25/26 at TD Ameritrade Park, which opened in 2011. The CWS has been played in Omaha every summer since 1950. Visit here for more information on future CWS dates.
Manfred said the MLB has not committed to games beyond 2019 in Omaha at TD Ameritrade Park, but he thinks an annual game is something that could eventually happen.
“We’re not committed beyond this year," he said when asked what the multi-year plan of this event will be. We see Williamsport [and] Omaha’s events as ones we would do on a continual basis, more continuing basis, and would like to use the event to strengthen relationships that are really important to us."
In recent years, MLB has taken an initiative to expand games to different ballparks nationally and internationally. MLB held its first Little League Classic last year when the St. Louis Cardinals and Pittsburgh Pirates met in Williamsport, Pennsylvania at the home of the Little League World Series. Earlier this year, the Minnesota Twins and Cleveland Indians played a two-game series in Puerto Rico.
Manfred said he's had the idea of bringing a regular season MLB game to Omaha since he took over as commissioner in 2015. MLB worked with Gary Green, the principal owner and CEO of the Omaha Storm Chasers, the Triple-A affiliate of the Royals to make this happen.
"We identified, the first year I was commissioner, a number of potential sites, targets to play games that were not in our traditional ballparks. Omaha was on that list from the beginning," he said. "The focus turned completely to Omaha a little over a year ago. Really our desire to be here had been strong all along, but it was just a question of finding the right opportunity. On this one, reaching an understanding with Gary on how this was going to operate.
"It’s really important to us — we’re really respectful of Minor League Baseball, its rights, its territories, we don’t want to be interfering with anything that’s going on in that great organization. But it’s over a year no matter what you do to try to get an event like this ready to go off the ground. One thing I will say about Omaha, and Karl referred to it earlier, the idea that this might be non-Major League facility in North America.”
Both Royals General Manager Dayton Moore and Tigers General Manager Al Avila spoke highly of the opportunity to play a game at TD Ameritrade Park.
“Let me just say on behalf of the Glass family, the Kansas City Royals, the unbelievable community of Omaha, which we have been really blessed to be apart of, we’re really humbled to be able to play this game," Moore said. “It’s a special honor for the Royals to be able to take part in this historic game.”
“For the Detroit Tigers, we’re obviously very excited and, like the commissioner said, it’s already out there on social media and we had players like James McCann and Matt Boyd already making comments about how excited and how thrilled they are to come here," Avila added. "I talked about it with our manager Ron Gardenhire who did this tournament many, many years ago, he was very excited about coming.”