NORMAN — The Women’s College World Series isn’t going anywhere.
Spurred by ever-increasing attendance, NCAA officials joined together with Oklahoma City mayor Mick Cornett to announce Thursday that they had agreed to a deal to keep the World Series in Oklahoma City until at least 2020, with an option to extend the deal through 2035.
The biggest reason for the agreement was $20 million in planned improvements at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium, which has seen more than 150,000 people attend the World Series each of the past two seasons as the tournament continues to break attendance records.
Since Oklahoma City first hosted the tournament in 1990, all but one World Series has been played at Hall of Fame Stadium. In that time the stadium has gone through several rounds of improvements, from additional bleachers to revamped dugouts and facilities surrounding the field.
Twenty-five years ago, the field had just the bleachers behind the plate. Since then, seating has grown as attendance skyrocketed and television coverage has gone from being just the semifinals and championship games to airing every super regional, and nearly every regional as well.
Coaches at the 2014 series spoke highly of the work done to make Hall of Fame Stadium the home of the World Series.
“I think it’s the greatest venue in college athletics,” said Kentucky coach Rachel Lawson, who played in the World Series in 1992 and is back this year with the Wildcats. “When I played here there were no bleachers in the outfield; people just sat on the grass.”
Helping foot the bill for the new round of improvements is naming rights to the field, along with bonds and private funding. Energy company OGE inked a 20-year deal to term the official name of the complex “OGE Energy Field at the ASA Hall of Fame Stadium.”