Sports in Omaha, Nebraska
Sports in Omaha, Nebraska are supported by a high attendance at events and tax support from the City of Omaha. Omaha is home to several professional sports teams and modern sports venues. The city has hosted a number of important sporting events. Since 1950 Omaha has hosted the baseball College World Series, and since 1996 it has been home to the Cox Classic golf tournament on the Nationwide Tour.
Former sports clubs in Omaha include the USL Premier Development League's Flames soccer team; the American Association's Omaha Dodgers, two professional hockey teams, the Omaha Knights and the Omaha Ak-Sar-Ben Knights, and a CBA Basketball Team, the Omaha Racers.
Omaha's Johnny Rosenblatt Stadium was formerly home to the Omaha Royals, now known as the Omaha Storm Chasers. From 1950 to 2010, it also hosted the annual NCAA College World Series men's baseball tournament in mid-June.
Morrison Stadium is a 6,000-seat soccer-specific stadium located at 2500 California Plaza in the Near North Side neighborhood. The stadium is home to the Creighton Bluejays men's and women's soccer teams.
The Omaha Civic Auditorium arena, which closed in 2014, seated up to 9,300 people for sporting events. In the past, the arena was home to the Creighton Bluejays men's basketball team, the University of Nebraska Omaha (UNO) ice hockey team, the Omaha Ak-Sar-Ben Knights American Hockey League team, the NBA's Kansas City-Omaha Kings basketball team, the Omaha Beef indoor football team and the Omaha Lancers junior hockey team. The arena was the site of the Missouri Valley Conference men's basketball tournament title game in 1978 and 1981. It was also the site of the seventh WWF In Your House pay-per-view in 1996. The closure of the Auditorium left the Omaha area without a mid-sized indoor venue, although that void will be filled in fall 2015 when UNO opens a new venue tentatively known as UNO Community Arena.
Today the CenturyLink Center in downtown Omaha hosts Creighton men's basketball; the Omaha Mavericks ice hockey team that represents UNO; and the Nebraska School Activities Association Nebraska State Wrestling Tournament annually. In 2008 the arena, then known as Qwest Center, hosted the First and Second Rounds of the NCAA Tournament, WWE Judgment Day 2008 and the USA Swimming Summer Olympic Trials. The venue again hosted the Olympic swimming trials in 2012. The Mavericks hockey team will leave CenturyLink Center when the new UNO arena opens.
Two new baseball parks opened in the Omaha area within days of each other in April 2011. On January 21, 2009 Omaha Mayor Mike Fahey along with others broke ground on the new Omaha Baseball Stadium, which would later be named TD Ameritrade Park Omaha. This stadium, located in downtown Omaha, has a permanent capacity of 24,000, with the capability of expansion to 35,000 with temporary seating. It is the new home of the College World Series, and is also home to Creighton's baseball program. The Royals initially planned to move into this stadium, but eventually decided that it was too large for their needs. They instead chose to build a smaller stadium, ultimately named Werner Park, in the suburb of Papillion, which also houses select games for Omaha Mavericks baseball annually. Following the 2010 season, the Royals changed their name to the Storm Chasers.
Ralston Arena opened in October 2012 in Ralston, a suburb of Omaha. It serves as the new home of the Omaha Beef indoor football team, the Omaha Lancers junior hockey team, and Omaha Mavericks men's basketball. The UNO women's team continues to play on campus at Lee & Helene Sapp Fieldhouse, the former home of the men's team. Both basketball teams, as well as the Omaha women's volleyball team, will eventually move to the new Community Arena.
|Johnny Rosenblatt Stadium (defunct)||Baseball, Football||South 10th Street||Home of the College World Series from 1950 to 2010, home of the Omaha Nighthawks UFL team in 2010. Demolished in 2011 to accommodate expansion of the adjacent Henry Doorly Zoo.|
|Omaha Civic Auditorium||Basketball, hockey, indoor football, volleyball||Downtown.||Closed in 2014.|
|CenturyLink Center||Basketball, hockey, wrestling, swimming||NoDo||Home of the 2008 and 2012 US Olympic Swimming Team Trials, Omaha Mavericks hockey, and Creighton men's basketball. Originally Qwest Center; renamed July 15, 2011, following the purchase of Qwest by CenturyLink.|
|Hefflinger Park Simply Play Cricket SPC Ground||Cricket||Omaha||Home of Outdoor & Indoor Cricket Fun SPC Omaha Premier League T20 & T16 Championship, ConAgra Cup, Knock Out Cup, ProKarma Cup, Tape Tennis Tournament, Youth Cricket, Indoor Cricket Tournament, teams participating in SPC are 90TH, Citadel, ConAgra 1, ConAgra 2, Des Moines Cric Tigers, Falcons, Mahindra Tigers, Nebraska Cricket Club, Nebraska Huskers, Omaha Royals, ProKarma, Riders, University of Nebraska Omaha (UNO Durangos), University of Nebraska Lincoln (UNCC), Warriors & many more........|
|D. J. Sokol Arena||Basketball, volleyball||Midtown|
|TD Ameritrade Park Omaha||Baseball, Football||NoDo||Home of the College World Series, Creighton Baseball, and the Omaha Nighthawks UFL team starting in 2011|
|Freedom Park||Cricket||Downtown||Home of the Nebraska Cricket Club, and Cricket Association of Nebraska|
|Werner Park||Baseball||Papillion||Opened in April 2011. Full-time home of the Omaha Storm Chasers (MiLB) and part-time home of the Omaha Mavericks baseball team|
|Lee & Helene Sapp Fieldhouse||Basketball||Elmwood Park||Opened in 1950. Home of Omaha Mavericks women's basketball and volleyball.|
|Ralston Arena||Basketball, Football||Ralston||Opened in October 2012. Home of Omaha Mavericks men's basketball, and the Omaha Lancers|
|UNO Community Arena (working name)||Hockey, basketball, volleyball||Midtown||Opening in fall 2015. Will host Omaha Mavericks men's ice hockey at opening, and will also eventually host the Omaha basketball and volleyball teams. Includes a second ice rink, which will double as a practice facility for Mavericks ice hockey and a community ice center.|
Several sports have heritage in Omaha. The American Taekwondo Association was founded by Haeng Ung Lee in Omaha in 1969. Alois P. Swoboda, the pioneer American physical culture at the turn of the 20th century. His revolutionary course "Conscious Evolution" inspired many American leaders in the fields of government, business, entertainment, law, athletics and medicine.
In 1972 the Cincinnati Royals of the National Basketball Association moved to a new primary home in Kansas City and a secondary home in Omaha, carrying the name Kansas City-Omaha Kings, the only time in the history of Omaha that they were home to a major-league sports team, despite sharing it with Kansas City. The team ceased Omaha operations in 1975 and became known as just the Kansas City Kings. From 1988 -1997 the Omaha Racers of the CBA played at Aksarben winning the CBA league championship in 1993. The only number retired by the Racers was Tim Legler's number 23.
- In 1991, the Omaha Cricket Club was formed. N.P. Dodge Park has been home of the Omaha Cricket Club since 2001.
- In 2010, the Cricket Association of Nebraska was formed with their home ground at historic Freedom Park, Omaha. The Nebraska Cricket Club is the cricket-playing wing of CAN.
- In 2011, the Simply Play Cricket Club was formed. With lots of hard work from few of the Committee members who took initiative and work hard to get a ground from Omaha City Wide Sports Parks & Recreation which they can call their home. And finally they got a ground in 2012 Hefflinger Park Cricket Field which is their home Cricket field. SPC contributed their own funds and laid down the concrete cricket pitch on the ground provided by Omaha City Wide Sports Parks & Recreation.
The Omaha Beef indoor football team has played at Ralston Arena since 2013; it previously played at the Omaha Civic Auditorium. The Omaha Nighthawks of the United Football League also began playing in 2010 at Rosenblatt Stadium, and at TD Ameritrade Park in 2011 until the league's folding in 2012. The city received a women's team in the Legends Football League named the Omaha Heart in 2013.
An early team in Omaha was the Luxus, who played with support from the Krug Brewery, and in 1915 played for the Amateur World Championship.
The Omaha Omahogs was a baseball team started in 1900 as part of the new Western League. Their name changed to the Omaha Indians in 1902. In 1904 the team was fielded as the Omaha Packers, and in 1906 as the Omaha Rourkes. They kept that name until 1921, when the name changed to the Omaha Buffaloes, which stuck until 1928 when it changed to the Omaha Crickets. In 1930 the team changed its name back to the Omaha Packers, and kept that name until 1935, when they moved to Council Bluffs and subsequently folded. A new team called the Omaha Robin Hoods formed in 1936, but moved to Rock Island, Illinois late in the year. The team reformed shortly thereafter as the Omaha Cardinals, remaining as such for several years.
In the 1940s, the African American players of the Omaha Rockets independent baseball team lived in North Omaha. The team played exhibition games against Negro League teams from across the U.S., and was the home of several important players.
|1879||Omaha Green Stockings||Northwestern League|
|1888||Omaha Lambs||Western Association|
|1892–1901||Omaha Omahogs||Western League|
|1902–1903||Omaha Indians||Western League|
|1904||Omaha Rangers||Western League|
|1905–1920||Omaha Rourkes||Western League|
|1921–1927||Omaha Buffaloes||Western League|
|1928–1929||Omaha Crickets||Western League|
|1930–1935||Omaha Packers||Western League|
|1936||Omaha Robin Hoods||Western League|
|1947–1959||Omaha Cardinals||Western League|
|1961-62||Omaha Dodgers||American Association|
|1969–1998||Omaha Royals||American Association|
|1999–2001||Omaha Golden Spikes||Pacific Coast League|
|2002–2010||Omaha Royals||Pacific Coast League|
|2011–||Omaha Storm Chasers||Pacific Coast League|
Ice hockey is a popular spectator sport in Omaha. One of the current Omaha-area teams is the Omaha Lancers of the USHL. The Lancers started out in 1986 at the now-demolished Ak-Sar-Ben, moved to Council Bluffs and the Mid-America Center in 2002, and the Omaha Civic Auditorium between the 2009-10 and 2011-12 seasons. Since 2012, the Lancers have played at the Ralston Arena in suburban Ralston.
The University of Nebraska Omaha Mavericks men's ice hockey team plays their home games in Omaha's CenturyLink Center, but will leave after the 2014–15 season and move to the new UNO Community Arena. Founded in 1997 and joining the Central Collegiate Hockey Association 2 years later, the Mavericks enjoy a loyal and vocal fan base. They currently play in the National Collegiate Hockey Conference.
The Omaha Ak-Sar-Ben Knights were the AHL affiliate of the Calgary Flames. The Knights played their home games at the Civic Auditorium. Following the 2006-2007 season the Knights were relocated to the Quad Cities due to mounting losses taken on by the Calgary organization, they were renamed the Quad City Flames and replace the Quad City Mallards of the United Hockey League. The franchise's attendance in the Quad Cities is lower than it was in Omaha.
On February 9, 2013, at TD Ameritrade Park Omaha, two hockey games took place as part of the Mutual of Omaha Battles on Ice. In game 1, the Lancers took on the Lincoln Stars, while in game 2, the Mavericks battled the University of North Dakota.
On August 18, 2010, the MISL announced on August 18, 2010, that it is expanding into Omaha starting with the 2010-11 season. The team, called Omaha Vipers, played at the Civic Auditorium but folded after the season when they were unable to secure an arena lease for the following season.
Martin Burns operated a successful wrestling school in Omaha in the 1910s. Joe Stecher, a wrestler from rural Nebraska, won national professional wrestling champion title in Omaha in 1915. The American Wrestling Association's Omaha version of their World Heavyweight Championship was a professional wrestling championship sanctioned by promoters in and around the city from 1957 through 1964.
Today, Maurice "Mad Dog" Vachon, an early wrestling great, lives in Omaha. Other wrestling figures, including Tony Osborne, Ted DiBiase, Paul "The Rapmaster" Neu, Sting and Baron Von Raschke are originally from Omaha. The city is also notorious within the wrestling world for other reasons, including Chris Masters' 2005 claim that, "anywhere is better than Omaha, Nebraska," offering of $6000 for a plane ticket to anywhere else in the United States.
The Creighton Bluejays compete in a number of NCAA Division I sports. In July 2013, Creighton became a invited member of the Big East Conference after more than 35 years in the Missouri Valley Conference. The men's basketball team plays their home games at the CenturyLink Center, while the women's basketball and volleyball teams play on campus at D. J. Sokol Arena. Their men's and women's soccer teams play their home games at Morrison Stadium.
The most popular team of the Creighton University athletic department is their men's basketball program. They have amassed 17 consecutive postseason appearances, including nine appearances in the NCAA Tournament during that stretch. Overall, Creighton has 19 NCAA Tournament appearances.
During the 2006-07 season, Creighton ranked 13th in all of NCAA Division I basketball in average home game attendance, averaging 15,909 per game.
University of Nebraska Omaha
The Omaha Mavericks represent the University of Nebraska Omaha in NCAA Division I competition. They compete in The Summit League in all sports with the exception of ice hockey. The Mavericks hockey team became a charter member of the National Collegiate Hockey Conference in 2011, and left the Western Collegiate Hockey Association at the end of the 2012–13 season with NCHC play beginning the next season.
Omaha is home to numerous important historical and modern sports figures. They include:
- Houston Alexander, UFC light heavyweight contender
- Max Baer, boxer
- Bob Boozer, former National Basketball Association player and gold medalist at the 1960 Summer Olympics.
- Steve Borden, professional wrestler better known as Sting
- Carmen Butler, current Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader
- Lance Cade, professional wrestler
- Jason Christiansen, professional baseball player
- Eric Crouch, 2001 Heisman Trophy winner for University of Nebraska
- Brian Deegan, FMX Rider
- Ted DiBiase, Professional Wrestler
- Bob Gibson, Hall of Fame pitcher for St. Louis Cardinals
- Ahman Green, professional football player
- Kenton Keith, professional football player
- Nile Kinnick, 1939 Heisman Trophy winner for the University of Iowa
- Jason Kreis, former professional soccer player, current manager of the MLS club New York City FC
- Scott Munter, relief pitcher for the San Francisco Giants
- Dave Nelson, professional skateboarder
- Gregg Olson, professional baseball player, 1989 American League Rookie of the Year
- Jed Ortmeyer, professional ice hockey player
- Ron Prince, former head football coach at Kansas State University
- Andy Roddick, professional tennis player
- Johnny Rodgers, 1972 Heisman Trophy Winner, College Football Hall of Fame; Inductee and voted University of Nebraska's "player of the century".
- Gale Sayers, professional football player, Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee
- Scott Sutton, Oral Roberts University men's basketball coach
- Danny Mayer, professional skateboarder
- Dipali, Professional Cricketer
- Bohls, Kirk (2004-06-22). "This player at CWS knows all the scores". Cox News Service. Retrieved 2006-06-19.
- (2006) A tale of two cities. At the Yard website. Retrieved 5/29/07.
- Burbach, Christopher (October 6, 2014). "UNO's rising arena, finances both solid". Omaha World-Herald. Retrieved February 17, 2015.
- "UNO Community Arena". University of Nebraska Omaha. Retrieved February 17, 2015.
- "About", American Taekwondo Association. Retrieved 10/08/07.
- (n.d.) Mickey Stubblefield Profile
- (n.d.) Barnstorming & Tournament Ball
- "Omaha, Nebraska Minor League City Encyclopedia" Sports Reference. Retrieved 10/16/09.
- (2007) Flames announce relocation of American Hockey League franchise to the Quad Cities (Moline, IL). Calgary Flames Franchise website. Retrieved 6/7/07.
- AHL Attendance  AHL Website. Retrieved 2/5/09.
- "Martin 'Farmer' Burns". International Wrestling Institute and Museum. Retrieved 10/9/07.