Sports in Omaha, Nebraska

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A crowd gathered for the 2006 College World Series Championship game at Rosenblatt Stadium.

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.

Venues[edit]

Main entrance to the Johnny Rosenblatt Stadium

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.[1]

Downtown Omaha and the Near North Side is home to the CenturyLink Center and Creighton University.[2]

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 currently seats 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 at Omaha 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.

Today the CenturyLink Center in downtown Omaha hosts Creighton men's basketball; the University of Nebraska at Omaha (Omaha) Mavericks ice hockey team, 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.

In 2009, the Creighton women's basketball and volleyball teams left the Civic Auditorium and moved back to campus with the opening of the new D. J. Sokol Arena.

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.

The 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 will continue to play on campus at Lee & Helene Sapp Fieldhouse, the former home of the men's team.

Sports venues in Omaha and vicinity
Venue Sport(s) Location Notes
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.
Morrison Stadium Soccer NoDo
Omaha Civic Auditorium Basketball, hockey, indoor football, volleyball Downtown
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 Stormchasers (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

Sports[edit]

Several sports have heritage in Omaha. The American Taekwondo Association was founded by Haeng Ung Lee in Omaha in 1969.[3] 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.

Basketball[edit]

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.

Cricket[edit]

  • 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.

Football[edit]

The Omaha Beef indoor football team plays 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.[4]

Baseball[edit]

The Cleveland White Autos vs. Omaha Luxus in 1915.

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.[5][6]

The Omaha Storm Chasers are the city's current minor-league baseball team. They are the AAA affiliate of the Kansas City Royals.

Baseball teams in Omaha[7]
Years Team Name League Notes
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

Hockey[edit]

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. Starting in 2012, the Lancers will play at the Ralston Arena in suburban Ralston.

The University of Nebraska at Omaha Mavericks men's ice hockey team plays their home games in Omaha's CenturyLink Center. 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 Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA); after the 2012–13 season, the Mavericks will leave the WCHA to become members of the new 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 Omaha 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.[8] The franchise's attendance in the Quad Cities is lower[9] 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.

Indoor soccer[edit]

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, tentatively called MISL Omaha, will play at the Civic Auditorium.

Wrestling[edit]

Martin Burns operated a successful wrestling school in Omaha in the 1910s.[10] 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.

Omaha also hosted the WWE Judgment Day Pay-Per-View Event on May 18, 2008, which was held at the then-Qwest Center.

College Sports[edit]

Creighton University[edit]

The Creighton Bluejays compete in a number of NCAA Division I sports. In July 2013, Creighton will become an invited founding member of the "new" 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 10 consecutive postseason appearances, including seven appearances in the NCAA Tournament during that stretch. Overall, Creighton has 16 NCAA Tournament appearances.

During the 2006-2007 season, Creighton ranked 13th in all of NCAA Division I basketball in average home game attedance, averaging 15,909 per game.

University of Nebraska at Omaha[edit]

The Nebraska–Omaha Mavericks, currently being rebranded as the Omaha Mavericks, represent the University of Nebraska at 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 will become a charter member of the National Collegiate Hockey Conference in 2013–14 after leaving the Western Collegiate Hockey Association.

Notable athletes[edit]

Omaha is home to numerous important historical and modern sports figures. They include:

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Bohls, Kirk (2004-06-22). "This player at CWS knows all the scores". Cox News Service. Retrieved 2006-06-19. 
  2. ^ (2006) A tale of two cities. At the Yard website. Retrieved 5/29/07.
  3. ^ "About", American Taekwondo Association. Retrieved 10/08/07.
  4. ^ http://www.omaha.com/article/20120419/NEWS01/120419566
  5. ^ (n.d.) Mickey Stubblefield Profile
  6. ^ (n.d.) Barnstorming & Tournament Ball
  7. ^ "Omaha, Nebraska Minor League City Encyclopedia" Sports Reference. Retrieved 10/16/09.
  8. ^ (2007) Flames announce relocation of American Hockey League franchise to the Quad Cities (Moline, IL). Calgary Flames Franchise website. Retrieved 6/7/07.
  9. ^ AHL Attendance [1] AHL Website. Retrieved 2/5/09.
  10. ^ "Martin 'Farmer' Burns". International Wrestling Institute and Museum. Retrieved 10/9/07.

External links[edit]