WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – For the first time ever, the NBC World Series is swinging into action in a venue other than Lawrence-Dumont Stadium.
There was a lot up in the air the year leading up to this tournament.
No Lawrence-Dumont meant the NBC would have to find a new home.
But, the tournament’s General Manager Kevin Jenks says he has seen plenty of benefits so far at Eck Stadium.
“The NBC is a part of our culture here in Wichita,” said Jenks. “It’s part of the fabric of who we are.”
The NBC World Series is already breaking last year’s record in attendance.
“The fact that pro baseball isn’t in Wichita this summer people have been hungry to get out and enjoy it,” said Jenks.
There were 1,000 more fans who showed up to the first two days of the tournament this year than last.
One section near home plate is hard to miss, with the “Circle of Love” group that met more than two decades ago in section 104 at Lawrence-Dumont.
“A big group of us we’ll take vacation for the full two weeks so that they can be here everyday,” said Beth Schmith, a lifetime ticket holder.
“I appreciate that WSU has made a deal with NBC and gave us a place to have the tournament or it wouldn’t even have happened,” said Adriane Coburn, a decades-long NBC World Series goer. “So, that’s wonderful. But nothing can replace Lawrence-Dumont.”
Forty-year NBC-goer Jay Gerdes thinks there are several benefits to playing at Eck.
“More shaded areas that have better views of the field,” he said.
Now remains the question of where the 86th season will take place.
“The plan is that we’ll split the two venues with the World Series,” said Jenks. “We’ll utilize the new stadium downtown, we’ll still play here. We’ll have to have it as a back up of some form.”
Jenks says Minor League Baseball typically is not going to send their teams on the road for ten to 14 days, so that is the reason the tournament could be in two locations next year.