College World Series Returns After Costly Off Year

    • The eight-team College World Series returned to Omaha after cancelling the 2020 tournament due to the pandemic.
    • The tournament has historically brought impressive media attention and economic activity to Omaha.

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The crowds returned to Omaha over the weekend with the relaunch of the College World Series.

The eight-team tournament features two of the most-watched prospects in baseball. Defending champion Vanderbilt has stud pitchers Jack Leiter and Kumar Rocker, who could both be looking at major signing bonuses after the July MLB draft.

  • Both Leiter and Rocker are projected to be picked in the top 10, and potentially in the top five. 
  • Teams drafting may spend up to an allotted amount in bonus money without penalty. The Pittsburgh Pirates, with the top pick, have an allotment of $14.4 million. 
  • MLB recommends a value for each pick slot, starting with $8.4 million for the first pick. Based on analyst predictions, Leiter could be in line for a $6.7 million bonus at the fourth spot, and Rocker $5.4 million at number seven. 

The College World Series rivals Major League Baseball in the attention it garners. The tournament’s 15 games in 2019 had a total attendance of 332,054. The final three’s average viewership on ESPN was 1.98 million, well above the network’s Sunday Night Baseball average of 1.6 million that year.

The event, operating at 100% capacity this year, should bring a windfall to an area smarting from last year’s cancelation.

A study from Creighton University found that the CWS brought in $88.3 million in economic activity and supported 1,103 year-round jobs in 2019, up 28% and 30%, respectively, from 2014.