OMAHA, Neb. -- By bringing the Detroit Tigers and Kansas City Royals to the site of the College World Series next year, Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred said the league continues to advance two important initiatives.
A regular-season MLB game is officially set for TD Ameritrade Park on June 13, 2019, two days before the scheduled open of the CWS and on the eve of the event's opening ceremonies. Manfred attended a press conference Thursday in Omaha with Dayton Moore and Al Avila, general managers of the Royals and Tigers, respectively, to announce the game.
Since Manfred's term as commissioner began in 2015, his primary objective has involved One Baseball, a plan to unite MLB with various organizations that across the game, in addition to Play Ball, a program to encourage youth involvement in the sport.
"The second [initiative] was to bring Major League Baseball to places where we don't play every day," Manfred said. "This game continues to advance both of those initiatives.
"The College World Series, in and of itself, is a great event with a great tradition. But we hope, by playing here, we'll be bringing even more attention to this game and help our relationship with the NCAA and college baseball as a whole."
MLB has taken games away from its traditional venues in recent years to Fort Bragg, North Carolina, Mexico, Puerto Rico and to Williamsport, Pennsylvania, home of the Little League World Series, where the Phillies and Mets will play the second MLB Little League Classic in August.
Manfred said MLB has committed to Omaha for only one year but that the league officials view games in Williamsport and Omaha "as events that we would like to do on a more continuing basis."
Kansas City is the closest MLB team to Omaha, approximately 200 miles away, and the CWS host city has long served as the Royals' Class AAA affiliate, playing at eight-year-old Werner Park in suburban Omaha.
"We're at a point in time in the history of baseball where I think we all understand the importance of being united and doing everything we can to grow the game," Royals GM Dayton Moore said.
The game next June will serve as the finale of a series between the American League Central foes, with the first two games set for June 11, a Tuesday night, and the afternoon of June 12 in Kansas City. The Royals will move on to Minneapolis to meet the Twins after the game in Omaha. Don't necessarily expect to see the MLB amateur draft to follow this game to Omaha. Some controversy in recent years has surrounded the draft, which coincides with NCAA-regional play -- regularly causing a distraction for players involved in competition for a postseason championships.
Manfred said his priority is to place the draft on a date when it least conflicts with MLB games. The league has discussed with the NCAA a move of the draft to Omaha, though no agreement appears imminent.
"I would love to have more coordination on the calendar with the NCAA and [am] prepared to have those talks whenever they're ready to do it," Manfred said. "In the meantime, I think the only choice available to us is to schedule [the draft] in a way when we can drive as much viewership as possible.
"You drive viewership by having less competition. In this case, the competition is major-league games."