College World Series Cancelled With $70M+ Hit to Omaha Economy

March 16, 2020, 8:23 a.m. ·

Omaha has been home to the CWS since 1950. (Photo by Brandon McDermott)

The NCAA cancelled all spring sports through the end of the academic school year as a preventative measure due to Coronavirus concerns. This includes the College World Series, which has been held annually in Omaha since 1950. The economic impact of the CWS on Omaha will be missed this year.

Chris Decker, Professor of Economics at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, says the College World Series is a big annual event for Omaha, both in national television coverage and economic impact on the city.

"The CWS brings in about 300,000 attendees and many of those people are from outside of the city of Omaha,” Decker said. “They come here, they'll spend money at restaurants and retail establishments, rent hotel rooms, and that can stimulate businesses around the convention center in the downtown area."

Decker says this spending won’t occur in Omaha this year. He estimates the total impact on the Omaha economy at $70-75 million this year.

"It's certainly a situation where a lot of businesses really do benefit from the extra foot traffic that the College World Series brings in. That stimulus is one [that will be] lacking this year," Decker said. "Isolating the effect of [the CWS] does suggest that if you compare year over year changes in the overall economy's income level, along with unemployment numbers, you're likely going to see 2020 not look as good compared to 2019 numbers."

Decker says this will hurt the Omaha economy in the short term.But in the long run, he says it could be just a blip on the radar, especially because Omaha’s economy is doing well.

"My sense though is the fact that it's a one-time occurrence can be helpful to think about because, come 2021, unless there's some other major challenge that our society is dealing with, the College World Series should be back on track," Decker said. "That stimulus should return to the Omaha economy."