"Nobody goes there anymore. It's too crowded." — Yogi Berra
OMAHA—The College World Series is accustomed to sold-out crowds and annual attendance records, so seeing so many empty seats at Rosenblatt Stadium on Saturday was something of a shock.
Attendance for the UCLA-TCU game was 10,907, the smallest crowd here since 1991. It wasn't much better for the Clemson-South Carolina game, which drew 12,593.
The small crowds puzzled NCAA officials.
Was it the heat, which hit the high 90s and indexed at 108? Did fans have other plans, since this was the first time a doubleheader was played at this juncture since 1988? Did they want a rest after a long week? Did several thousand stay home to watch the U.S. soccer team playing in the World Cup? It's difficult to say.
But it was obvious something unusual was going on minutes before the first pitch between the Bruins and Horned Frogs. It seemed everywhere you looked outside the entrance to Rosenblatt Stadium there was someone with a fistful of tickets looking to unload them. One woman said she would take face value. No takers.
In fact, you literally couldn't give tickets away. A pair of scalpers—er, resellers—walking just beyond the parking lot toward Zesto's waved tickets overhead and asked passersby if anyone wanted one. Free. No one jumped at the offer.
"Last year, we had LSU and Texas, which was kind of the perfect storm as far as teams are concerned," CWS ticket chairman Herb Hames told the Omaha World-Herald.
This year they had plain old storms, which greatly impacted the first weekend of the CWS. Lightning and rain forced the postponement of Game Four between Clemson and Arizona State. The teams played Monday at 10 a.m. as part of the first tripleheader here in 30 years. A crowd of 14,198 came out for brunch, which was nearly 10,000 fewer than attended last year's Game 4 between Texas and Southern Mississippi.
Attendance through 12 games this year was 259,851, which was 11,349 fewer than the total for 12 games last year, when a record 336,076 attended the event.
Despite the relatively small crowds, this year's event is actually 12,000 ahead of last year's record pace. That's because we've had two extra games after TCU and South Carolina forced "if necessary" games by winning on Friday.