OMAHA, NE – Major League Baseball announced today that the Kansas City Royals and the Detroit Tigers will play a regular season game in Omaha, Nebraska on Thursday, June 13, 2019. Honoring Omaha’s baseball tradition, the first Major League game ever held in Nebraska will be televised nationally by ESPN and will be played at TD Ameritrade Park Omaha – one day before the Opening Celebration Day of the 2019 National Collegiate Athletic Association’s (NCAA) Men’s College World Series and two days before the event’s first game. GEICO will be the presenting sponsor of the event as part of the new GEICO Summer Series. The game resulted from an agreement between MLB, the NCAA, Minor League Baseball, the Triple-A Omaha Storm Chasers and Omaha’s Metropolitan Entertainment & Convention Authority (MECA).
Today’s announcement was made at TD Ameritrade Park Omaha and featured Commissioner of Baseball Robert D. Manfred, Jr.; the Royals’ Dayton Moore, Senior Vice President and General Manager, and Kevin Uhlich, Senior Vice President, Business Operations; the Tigers’ Al Avila, Executive Vice President and General Manager, and Duane McLean, Executive Vice President, Business Operations; the Mayor of the City of Omaha, Jean Stothert; Gary Green, Principal Owner and Chief Executive Officer of the Omaha Storm Chasers; Roger Dixon, President/CEO of MECA; and ESPN’s Karl Ravech, one of the network’s signature baseball voices at multiple levels of the game.
The 2019 game will follow other recent special events that have brought regular season play to non-traditional locales and have been telecast by ESPN. On July 3, 2016, the Atlanta Braves and the Miami Marlins played at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, a celebration of the servicemembers at the post and the first Major League game ever held in the state. On August 20, 2017, the Pittsburgh Pirates and the St. Louis Cardinals participated in the inaugural Little League Classic, which took place at Historic Bowman Field in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, the home of the Little League World Series. The second Little League Classic presented by GEICO will be played this August 19th between the Philadelphia Phillies and the New York Mets.
The Royals and the Storm Chasers, who helped make this event possible, share the game’s longest relationship between a Major League Club and its Triple-A affiliate, spanning the careers of Hall of Famer George Brett and other Kansas City greats since its franchise inception in 1969. Thirty-two Major League players all-time were born in Omaha, including Hall of Famers Bob Gibson and Wade Boggs, and more than 100 all-time were born in Nebraska, including Hall of Famer Richie Ashburn and Royals’ three-time All-Star Alex Gordon, a Lincoln native and a product of the University of Nebraska. Gibson pitched for Triple-A Omaha when it was a Cardinals’ affiliate. As a member of the New York Giants’ Minneapolis farm club in 1951, Hall of Famer Willie Mays was in Omaha when he was called up to the Majors. In 1889, Hall of Fame pitcher Kid Nichols was the ace of the Omaha Omahogs of the Western Association. The state of Nebraska has a long and distinguished tradition of Native Americans playing the game.
Commissioner Manfred said: “As fans enjoy the excitement of the College World Series, I am pleased to announce that we will be playing a Major League game in Omaha next season. We look forward to partnering with the NCAA and all the various parties who have worked hard to put this game together. This represents another significant step in our efforts to showcase the solidarity that links each level of our great game.”
Kevin Uhlich, the Royals’ Senior Vice President, Business Operations, said: “The bond that ties our ball club in Kansas City and the city of Omaha dates back to the first pitch ever thrown in organization history in 1969 when both the Kansas City Royals and then-Omaha Royals came into existence. Couple that with one of the greatest spectacles in college athletics, the College World Series, and we’re ecstatic as an organization to participate in this historic game. So many of the athletes who have worn Royal uniforms have come through this great community either while starring for their college team or as a member of our organization. It’s only fitting that the Royals be a part of the first Major League game ever hosted by the city of Omaha.”
Al Avila, Executive Vice President and GM of the Tigers, said: “All of us with the Detroit Tigers are thrilled and honored to participate in the first-ever Major League game at TD Ameritrade Park Omaha. The College World Series is one of America’s jewel events and is truly an institution within the baseball world. We are looking forward to showcasing the talent of our Major Leaguers on amateur baseball’s biggest stage.”
Omaha Storm Chasers owner Gary Green said: “We are very excited to not just be part of this historic first-of-its-kind event in Omaha next year, but that our parent club of 50-plus seasons will be participating as well. The city of Omaha has an incredibly rich history of professional baseball, and the large significance of this event taking place next year in this city cannot be overstated.”
Bill Brower, GEICO’s assistant vice president of marketing, said: “Omaha has played an enormous role in making baseball America’s pastime. GEICO is pleased to support this historic game and the timeless sport of baseball.”
Omaha has hosted the College World Series since 1950, at Rosenblatt Stadium through 2010 and at TD Ameritrade Park Omaha since 2011.