Wilson Makes Its CWS Return In Grand Style
Wilson’s stable of brands makes a return to the College World Series and with plans bigger than ever before.
Wilson, which hasn’t had a presence in Omaha during the vendor-filled event for a few years as it has been busy acquiring EvoShield and Louisville Slugger to go with its main Wilson and DeMarini brands, attempts to make a splash with its return to the event. Wilson is converting The Bullpen, a building part of the Omaha Baseball Village across from TD Ameritrade Park, home of the CWS. In an area that gets blocked off and filled with a stage for music, food and countless gear vendors, Wilson has taken one of the only buildings—it has air conditioning to boot—and filled it with the latest in gear.
“It will be unlike anything ever done,” said Joey Nowak, Wilson associate marketing manager, who said he has dreamed of this type of “statement” for a couple of years. “I knew I wanted to bring us back together as a group and I wanted it to be bigger and better than ever. We want to be the talk of the town and it will have been worth taking off a couple of years with this serious statement.”
Along with painting a mural on the side of the brick building, Wilson will fill the space with gear specific to Omaha and offer a first look at 2019 lines of bats and gloves. A HitTrax batting cage will let customers test out the new bats before purchase. Wilson typically launches most of its baseball products at the end of the summer, but in an effort to create more buzz, visitors to the CWS or Omaha Slumpbuster tournament in town at the same time, get the first offering of the 2019 products.
Wilson will also offer gloves made exclusively for the Omaha pop-up store. “There are things the glove team is testing out and not available in the (main) line or the (online) custom builder,” Nowak said. “Different components make up the glove, it has different design work and stuff you can’t do yourself.”
Wilson will feature glove customization on site with differing shells, laces and webs, allowing customers to customize their glove with colors and style—similar to what Wilson offers online. “We have never given someone the opportunity to show up and say ‘I want that piece, that piece and that piece’ and have the glove team string it up,” he said.
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Glove master craftsman Shigeaki Aso and product manager Ryan Smith will be on hand to help customers.
Nowak said to expect customizable EvoShield straps made on site and Omaha-specific hats, shirts and other items. “This is going to be a destination for ballplayers who have an affinity for our brands,” he said.
The Wilson Bullpen location opens Friday, June 15, the day before the CWS games starts and runs through the tournament.
Tim Newcomb covers gear and business for Baseball America. Follow him on Twitter at @tdnewcomb.