In 2015 the Women’s College World Series was all about breaking records. Featuring eight softball teams from around the nation, it went down as the most watched tournament in the 33 year history of the event.
Played at the USA Hall of Fame Stadium (2801 NE 50th Street), more than 78,000 fans filled the venue over six days to see the best teams in the nation compete for the NCAA national championship of softball. That included 7,680 who came out to watch Florida defeat Michigan in the final game of the tournament.
Since it started being held at Hall of Stadium, the WCWS has become one of the most popular sporting events held in Oklahoma City ever year. “I think it has a lot to do with the commitment of the city and the fact we’ve been able to work on our relationship with the NCAA to keep it here,” said USA Softball’s Chris Sebran. “People plan their vacation around that week of softball. That’s the reason it’s grown every year. We’ve continued to make improvements in the facility.”
The USA Hall of Fame Complex first opened its doors in 1973. Then it was just comprised of the National Softball Hall of Fame and Museum and the USA headquarters. It wasn’t until 1987 that the softball stadium was built and added to the complex. With its four fields, jumbo video screen and 7,300 seat capacity, it’s considered by many to be the best softball facility in the world.
The NCAA didn’t start to organize a national championship tournament for softball until 1982.
After the tournament was held in Nebraska and California for the first eight years, it was moved permanently to Oklahoma City and Hall of Fame Stadium in 1990.
“It’s the largest softball only dedicated facility with the capacity it has,” Sebren said. “We have 5,000 permanent seats and you just don’t see that when you go to a softball field. I think that kinds of stands out and people are in kind of awe when they see that many seats available for a possible event.”
Tickets to the Women’s College World Series can be purchased online at ncaa.com/tickets/softball/d1. Visitors have the option to choose single game tickets, individual sessions or purchase passes for the entire tournament.
Patrons may also call (866) 208-0048 for more information.
The NCAA also offers a ticket exchange at ncaa.com/exchange.
“The official NCAA Ticket Exchange is the only 100 percent guaranteed, NCAA-approved secondary ticket marketplace that allows fans to buy and sell NCAA Championship tickets with other fans,” the NCAA stated. “Ticket holders who are unable to attend a game have a secure place to safely sell their tickets, and the buyer can be assured that the tickets are authentic and 100 percent guaranteed.”
The WCWS last only six days, but the stadium doesn’t sit empty and unused the rest of the year. In the past it has played host to World Cup of Softball, the USA Men's Slow Pitch Border Battle, the Division II softball championships and the USA National Championship Series. It’s also home to several high school softball competitions, including the fast pitch and slow pitch Oklahoma state championships.
For those who want to learn about the history of the game of softball when their team isn’t playing, the softball hall of fame and museum is next door to the stadium. Access is free to the public, but donations are welcomed.
The softball hall of fame has more than 370 inductees. They include players, coaches, umpires, administrators who have made their mark on the game.
“It’s so interesting to walk in the museum and see this sport that started 75 years ago up in the Chicago area and the fact that we have that history here in Oklahoma City,” Sebren said. “We have our hall of fame here where we recognize the people in the past. You get to see all that history. You also get to see the history of the (Women’s) College World Series and the fact we have an area dedicated to the college program in our basement edition, They can see the USA softball history, the college softball history, just the history of the game.”