The biggest, boldest and brightest youth baseball tournament in the world has returned to the batter’s box for 2021.
Triple Crown Sports is eager to once again produce the Omaha SlumpBuster, which will welcome 388 teams over multiple sessions, beginning with 9u-14u play in and around the city from June 17-20. The tournament continues with sessions set for June 24-27 and June 29-July 1 – officials expect programs from approximately 30 states will be in attendance, with about 60 hotels in the area securing room nights from travel teams.
There are two dedicated Festival Nights at the SlumpBuster (June 17 and June 24), to be hosted by the Council Bluffs Recreation Complex in Council Bluffs, IA. The evening features an on-field skills challenge, vendors and merchandise shopping, pin trading, inflatables and the traditional Burning of the Bats, where two 10-foot wooden bats are set ablaze along with a fireworks display.
All told, more than 55 fields and 16 complexes will be pulled into service for the event, which is showing a strong recovery after essentially being sidelined because of COVID-19 in 2020. That event had 670 teams booked before pandemic restrictions took hold; it featured an all-time high of 736 teams in 2019 and more than 500 teams in each of the previous four years.
The desire to play baseball in Omaha/Council Bluffs in early summer has evolved as well, with Triple Crown’s Pathway Baseball division set to run parallel events June 19-23 (15u/16u) and June 26-30 (17u/18u) in partnership with Iowa Western Community College. In this unique format, teams will stay on campus and be immersed in a college environment with strong competition while college coaches direct and educate along the way.
Barring any surprises, the 2022 SlumpBuster (marking the 20th anniversary of the event) is expecting to return to its previous range of team counts – youth teams get the opportunity to see the College World Series, which runs concurrent with the tournament. The chance to play unique competition from around the nation and check out CWS action are the calling cards for the SlumpBuster.
“Being able to plan for this year’s SlumpBuster was a challenge for programs, but we are thrilled to be right at the 400-team mark and eager to help the youth baseball world regain its momentum after the hurdles of 2020,” said tournament event director Brandon Hardy. “Our event partners – everyone from field crews to hotels and restaurants to city partner allies – hung in there with us and were invaluable assets as we rebuilt this tournament. It’s great to be back in the memory-making business again.”
“Council Bluffs hotels, restaurants, and businesses, in general, are so glad to have SlumpBuster players and fans back this year in a big way,” said Mark Eckman, executive director of the Council Bluffs Convention and Visitors Bureau. “You never know how much you value something until it’s not there, the way it’s always been. We have missed SlumpBuster players and families and welcome them back with open arms.”
"We look forward to all of the energy and excitement the Triple Crown SlumpBuster tournament will bring back to the city in 2021," said Visit Omaha interim executive director Deborah Ward. "The tournament, which attracts hundreds of young athletes, coaches and families to Omaha, is a beloved summer tradition that adds to the buzz surrounding the NCAA Men's College World Series, and this year translates into an estimated $18.3 million for our local economy."
Follow the event on Twitter @TCSlumpBuster.