Sports Destination Management
BY Juli Anne Patty
When you’re a sports destination, one of the greatest votes of confidence comes when an event owner signs a contract to bring an event to your community for multiple years. Thanks to a 20-year contract extension signed by the NCAA, Oklahoma City retains America’s ultimate softball championship—the Women’s College World Series—and the subject of every young softball player’s dreams. It’s a chance for softball to grow and flourish in a permanent home and an opportunity for Oklahoma City, a city that has already been wowing the sports world with its commitment and event expertise, to show how a united community effort can help a long-term event truly soar.
The new center of softball
As the final event in the NCAA Division I softball championship, the Women’s College World Series represents the ultimate dream for thousands of young softball players across America. Though many of softball’s athletes may not remember a time when the Women’s College World Series wasn’t in Oklahoma City, the event actually started in Omaha, which has a contract to host the College World Series for baseball until 2033. In 1998 and 1999, the event had a brief stint in Sunnyvale, California, before moving to Oklahoma City. The ultimate college softball championship event has remained in Oklahoma City since, except for a 1996 appearance in Columbus, Georgia, when Atlanta hosted the Olympics.
The event’s future in Oklahoma City had a fleeting moment of uncertainty in 2014, as the NCAA considered other potential options, but Oklahoma City had no intentions of letting the event go quietly. In characteristic OKC style, the city, its sports and tourism organizations and its citizens united to create an irresistible offer.
Spotlight on softball
Oklahoma City hosts the Women’s College World Series through a partnership with the NCAA, the city, and the OKC All Sports Association, one of America’s oldest sports commissions, with the support of the OKC Chamber of Commerce and Convention and Visitors Bureau. The ASA Hall of Fame Stadium is the home of the event, and the venue has grown along with the popularity and success of the Women’s College World Series.