Tag Archives: cws

They paved paradise and put up a parking lot


Rosenblatt Stadium

They paved paradise and put up a parking lot in place of Rosenblatt Stadium. Photo by Drew Fann

by Paul Fiarkoski

Drew Fann is a true fan of the Blatt. He snapped the picture above on a visit to Omaha in 2014 and posted it on Twitter. The image captures the essence of the song Big Yellow Taxi by Joni Mitchell that begins with the lyrics, “They paved paradise and put up a parking lot.”

The song continues:

Don’t it always seem to go
That you don’t know what you’ve got
Till it’s gone
They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot

Is that not the Rosenblatt Stadium story?

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A Rosenblatt lover’s review of TD Ameritrade Park


I am aware that dozens of writers have already made comparisons of Omaha’s new TD Ameritrade Park to the condemned Rosenblatt Stadium three miles to the south. However, I feel like I needed to write one on behalf of the people who really loved Rosenblatt Stadium. If you’re looking for the quick conclusion to my review, here it is: I liked the overall experience at Rosenblatt way better!

Need more background? Read What happened to Rosenblatt Stadium>>

My first visit to TD Ameritrade Park was the evening of day four of the 2011 College World Series. I arrived so late in the game that I didn’t bother going to the game. I parked my car at an open meter about three blocks south and wandered around the new baseball village that is reportedly owned in part by Omaha’s former mayor who was in charge at the time the decision for a new stadium was made. I was rather impressed with the layout of the “village”, although it really lacked people on that night. As I continued my stroll around the vicinity I was hit with the overwhelming feeling of “where am I?” Twenty years earlier I served a summer internship for the Omaha World-Herald in the same general area and spent quite a bit in north downtown. On this visit back to the area I did not recognize it whatsoever. I remember thinking to myself as I jumped back in my car to go meet some people in the Old Market, “why wasn’t this here when I lived in Omaha?”

I went back a few nights later for a cold one after covering the marathon Friday night game between Virginia and South Carolina and the place was crawling with drunks. About thirty minutes before every other bar in Omaha celebrates last call, I was forced to toss a quarter of my 40 of Bud Light when the testosterone fortified security personnel (off-duty Omaha Police officers) told me I, and everyone else, had to leave. Shortly after being herded out like a cow being prodded to the kill floor of a South Omaha packing plant, I thought I was going to have to duke it out with an intoxicated muscle head who tried to throw a shoulder at me just outside the village.

Parking & tailgating
Day five of the College World Series was my first day to go inside the new stadium. Before going in, I had to park in Lot D featuring the bubbling spring on the north end. I arrived 90 minutes before the game parked at the far east edge of the lot to preserve up close spots for other fans. (Clue: there were never empty spots at Rosenblatt 90 minutes before a game.) The few tailgate parties I saw paled in comparison to Rosenblatt tailgates by a long shot. There were no smokers or deep fryers; just a few coolers and propane fired tailgate grills. The most active gathering I saw was a gathering of about a dozen people around a tent near the space closest to the stadium. It was clear from the banners they flew proudly that the party’s underwriter was the advertising agency of record for College World Series Omaha, Inc.

Press box
Once inside the business end of the stadium I got a taste of what others mean when they have said the new stadium is “sterile”. I felt like I was in a hospital. I am not alone in my assessment that the press box set up was much better at Rosenblatt. I overheard one reporter say he felt like he was covering the games in a library. My particular beef with the press box at TD Ameritrade is that the glass panes are narrower than at Rosenblatt, so you have more vertical lines disrupting your view. On Day 1 of the series, a number of media members complained on Twitter about spotty wifi access in the press box. I’m sorry, but that should not happen at a brand new, state-of-the-art stadium. Even the press box at 62 year-old Rosenblatt Stadium had good wifi.

View
The next day I vowed to get out into the stadium to get a taste of the fan experience. To say the least, I was impressed. Some have said TD Ameritrade Park has a big league feel to it. I would say it doesn’t. It’s actually better. Most big league parks are so big that you don’t feel like you’re close to the action. I tested out numerous vantage points from around the main level and all the views of the field were great. I did not make it to the upper deck. While I’m on the topic of views, I much preferred the view of treetops and the valley beyond at Rosenblatt than the buildings poking up around downtown Omaha. Regarding the grass on the field I have mixed feelings. It sure looked pretty; however, since the most common question I heard about the turf was whether it was real (it is), I would have to give it a thumbs down.

Corporatization
On the topic of the new stadium experience becoming the corporate world series as some have suggested, I have to say that it wasn’t as corporate as I expected. Even in the area surrounding the stadium, I didn’t get the overwhelming feeling of being suffocated by commercialism. In fact, I would say that by draping a huge tarp of some kind over the TD Ameritrade sign above the scoreboard, the NCAA would strike virtually all commercialism from the College World Series experience. Unlike at MLB or minor league games, where nearly every turning point in the game is sponsored by somebody, you just don’t get that at the Trade during the CWS. A few weeks prior to the CWS, I did notice during an ESPN broadcast of a Creighton-Nebraska game that the on-deck circle was emblazoned with the logo of a large Omaha bank. Still, that didn’t detract from the game. Anyone not familiar with the bank wouldn’t have even known it was a logo.

Scoreboard
The scoreboard and video reply monitor at TD Park does not stack up to the one at Rosenblatt. If it’s not smaller, it sure looks like it and it doesn’t display as much information. At Rosenblatt, you could see information not just about the current batter, but you could also see who else was in the lineup. Not so at TD. Others have told me that the lineup is displayed at TD, but it’s definitely not as present as it was at Rosenblatt. The other thing I liked seeing at Rosenblatt was the pitch speed display. I looked all over and couldn’t find the pitch speed anywhere at the new stadium. One final gripe I have about the scoreboard is that everytime I look at it, I am reminded how much money I have lost in my IRA at TD Ameritrade and how difficult their statements are to read (zing!). Remember the arched Rosenblatt sign over the scoreboard at Rosenblatt? What a classic!

Concessions
One thing that is vastly improved at TD is the concessions. Truthfully, I only bought a pretzel and a souvenir cup of Dr. Pepper but there was virtually no wait, and the ambience was much more inviting than at Rosenblatt. The people I am happiest for in the whole move to the new stadium are the concessions workers. I always felt bad for the sweaty folks working in the hot, cramped confines of the Rosenblatt concession stands. My younger sister was one of them once upon a time. I’m glad that they can now work in greater comfort. The menu boards are attractive and easy to read too. One myth about TD Ameritrade is that you can watch the game while you stand in line. I actually lost my place in line because I heard the crowd roar and ran to the railing to see what caused the ruckus. By the way, the railing around the lower reserved seats is a nice touch. I like the fact that you can set a drink on the narrow counter top or take notes if you want to.

On a personal note, I was bummed that you can no longer buy the curly fries inside the stadium. I always looked forward to the curly fries at Rosenblatt. Nor can you buy an Omaha Steaks sandwich at the stadium or have a cold “Jesus” water handed to you on the way in. These things may be available down at the corporate Baseball Village a few blocks away (I didn’t bother to find out), but not in or immediately around the stadium. Most people won’t even notice since Famous Daves BBQ sandwiches and plenty of other goodies are still available.

The statue
I can summarize what has happened to the famous Road to Omaha statue in one word: gag! They relocated it from Rosenblatt and placed it right in front of a bland, colorless, tiered concrete wall flanked by the arched stairways leading into the main stadium entrance behind home plate. In its current location, it’s virtually impossible for fans (or players) to get a picture in front of the statue without including people walking up the stairs or the tacky TD Ameritrade side in the background. I saw team pictures shot from a virtual profile angle in order to get everyone in the picture. In order to stand far enough back to get a group photo straight on, the photographer would be standing in the street. Thankfully, somebody had the good sense to plop a few bushes in behind the statue prior to the 2011 College World Series, so as to give a little color to the backdrop.

The stadium lights
I’m sure the stadium lights at TD Ameritrade are far superior in terms of candle power and efficiency or whatever metric stadium lights are evaluated by. Dozens of very luminous bulbs are stretched across a bar of metal that measure 40 to 50 feet long on all sides of the stadium. There was certainly no lack of visibility during the night games. Still, I prefer the old school lights perched high above Rosenblatt. One other thing about the lights at the Trade is that the light structure rising above the third base side of the stadium casts an odd, rapidly moving shadow on the field for an hour or so before sundown.

I may think of more attributes to cover and add them to this post at a later date. Please don’t take my word for it. You owe it to yourself to go and form your own opinions, especially those of you who have experienced Rosenblatt.

My conclusion is this: there was something infectious about Rosenblatt that made you want to come back again and again. Having spent several days at the new stadium, my feeling when I left was “Okay I saw it, so what?” I liked the overall experience at Rosenblatt way better!

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Rosenblatt Stadium’s most electrifying moment: the Matt Curry (TCU) grand slam of 2010


Let me start by acknowledging Warren Morris‘ walk-off homer to win the 1996 College World Series championship game for LSU was likely the most spectacular moment at Rosenblatt. With all due respect, I contend that most electrifying moment is described below.  In fact, I would go so far as to say that the moment described below was, for me, the most spectacular AND electrifying moment in sports I have personally witnessed – in person or on TV.


The hole in one, the seventy-yard field goal, the grand slam. There are few athletic feats as rare and hard to attain as these. Players dream about them. Fans long for them. They happen, but so rarely that when they do we, the sports community, never let them be forgotten.

And so, what first baseman Matt Curry and his team of TCU Horned Frogs did at Rosenblatt Stadium on Wednesday night, June 23, 2010, will be remembered forever. A legendary moment at Omaha’s legendary diamond on the hill.

Two outs into the top of the eighth inning, TCU found themselves in a spot not unfamiliar to them: down by three runs in a do or die situation against an opponent (Florida State) far superior in baseball tradition and experience. Indeed, it was by winning a game of this magnitude that the Frogs advanced to the final College World Series to be played at this fabled field of dreams.

We’ll always remember how Curry’s moment in history was set up by Jason Coats. Down by three in the top of the eighth, two on, two outs, tying run at the plate, full count. Next pitch by Florida State’s Mike McGee missed the strike zone. Ball four, bases loaded.

Up to the plate walks Curry, his moment in College World Series history just a few cuts away. With all hopes of staying in the tournament riding on one pitch, Curry faced the same two outs, full-count situation as Coats. Everyone in attendance was on their feet, save a few FSU fans, cheering with all their might. The buzz was electric. The delivery, the swing, the contact, the feeling, the roar. It all happened just like that!

Watch the amateur video captured from the stands>>

Curry knew it was outta here. Few others did. Frogs Coach Schlossnagle’s stomach dropped when he saw Florida State outfielder Tyler Holt camped out underneath the ball in center field. Holt later told Curry he didn’t even know where the ball was. He lost it in the twilight.

The camera saw it. That is until it left not just the field, but  the entire stadium. The ball sliced right through the small gap between the right field bleachers and the center field concession stand roof. Who retrieved perhaps the greatest home run ball to ever fly out of Rosenblatt we thought we would never know.

TCU players mob first baseman Matt Curry after his 2010 grand slam

The Frogs went on to tack on a few more runs and send Florida State home without a championship once again. This happy ending (for TCU) gets even happier. A few days later, the person who retrieved Matt Curry’s magical homerun ball showed up at the Omaha hotel hosting TCU to return the keepsake to Matt.

Story: CWS fan gives back grand slam ball>>

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Rosenblatt Stadium: fan memories reflect the pain of loss


LSU fans 2009

LSU Tigers fans at the 2009 College World Series

Memories of Rosenblatt Stadium some fans have shared on the Rosenblatt Stadium fan page on Facebook:

Last year (2009) was the last CWS. This year is just a 10 day funeral. The city muckety mucks that perpetrated this fraudulent need for a new stadium will milk it as much as possible. The Corporate World Series has begun. Thanks for the memories, Johnny. I guess the right people weren’t making enough money. John F. Holdforth

We’ve been almost every year for the last 15 years with our 5 kids- to them it’s one of the best shows on earth! What’s not to love-college (not pro) baseball, great fans to watch, the zoo next door, nike town, and ZESTOS!!!! So sad when the “big boys” think they can make more money by changing things! Alna Parish

With Rosenblatt closed and the New TD Ameritrade opening, my heart is heavy. Too Many Memories, living on 13th Street for many years and then moving closer to the ballpark to 16th Street, we were always close to all the crowds that would park on the street and after game they would become a parade of people going to their cars and then dinners. It was a simplier time. Too bad money is the movitator to destroy a landmark and to build a ball park without memories of taking your kids and grand kids to the ball game. Your son or daughter working in the stands selling dogs for money to buy school clothes or save for their first car. I will miss Rosenblatt Stadium because of the Memories and the College World Series, the traffic and the SMILING FANS.  Kimberly Jane Peterson-Heier

Saw Arkansas lose to LSU in 2009. I felt overwhelmed by the magic that is Rosenblatt Stadium and wanted more. This past summer, I got to see Games 1 thru 6. Spent all day Sunday during the rain and got to see game 3. They played game 4 on Monday so since I had tickets for that game, I got tickets for games 5 & 6. I’m glad I discovered the CWS and Rosenblatt thanks to ESPN. I sure will miss the Diamond on the Hill. Mike Lustig

Jesse (Cuevas, groundskeeper) never knew who I was, but I looked for him each night – he was part of that park – one night the chicken or some mascot rode a four wheeler over a pitcher’s mound and I thought Jesse was going to lose it – it was a funny sight looking back! Erika Meldrum Harris

Share your memories below or on the Rosenblatt Stadium fan page on Facebook.

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Rosenblatt Stadium legend: Chopper the ball shagger


Rosenblatt legends come in all shapes and sizes. Some were athletes, others were groundskeepers or announcers. One legend was a 4-foot tall, 80 lbs. ball shagger by the name of Eugene Rosales, but everyone knew of him as Chopper. Even ESPN’s Kyle Peterson reminisced about Chopper during a recent broadcast of a Creighton – Nebraska game.

I tracked Chopper down and asked him to share his memories as Rosenblatt’s College World Series ball shagger.

RR: Do you remember what your official title was?
ER:  My official job title I believe was ball shagger. I was too young and excited to have that job to ask them why they didn’t just use the same person who did the Royals games. I was actually an employee for the City of Omaha .

RR: How old were you when you performed that role?
ER: I was 11 when I first got the job in the summer after finishing 6th grade. My dad knew the foreman of the grounds crew (Frank Mancuso) and he simply asked him if I could have the job. Frank was a cool cat with his cigars. 

RR: Did you ever meet anyone famous at Rosenblatt?
ER: I actually have met a ton of people and players who went on to be stars in the major leagues. Some of the players I met were Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds, Pete Incaviglia, Dave Magadan. A lot of them I still have autographed baseballs in a box at home. I may have met Chris Berman from ESPN not really knowing who he was since cable TV was a relatively new thing back then.

RR: You became a sort of Rosenblatt legend in your own right. Explain how you went from being a foul ball shagger to a Rosenblatt icon.
ER: That’s quite a compliment, but I think there are probably more deserving people of the icon status than me. Guys like Jesse and Terry Cuevas come to mind. I remember Terry wearing his cowboy boots all the time. He was always so nice to me. I only had that job for four summers from 81-84.

He’s so modest, or embarrassed. Chopper became a CWS sensation for the dance moves he pulled off whenever he caught the foul balls off the backstop net. His moves had moves! Chopper was as entertaining as the games on the field.

RR: What is your fondest memory (or a few) of Rosenblatt Stadium?
ER: I have lots of them. The only memories I have of the actual stadium facility so to speak are how I was always so intrigued by the light towers that lit the stadium for night games when I was very young. Believe it or not, one of my goals was to climb up one of them. That never happened of course.

My other memory of the actual facility was how I was so taken with being able to go into the clubhouse and visit with the players and coaches. Other memories are mostly of the people that worked there and how hard everyone worked to get ready for the event. I got to sign lots of autographs. I still have a couple of scars on my right arm from diving on the gravel warning track around the field. I guess I didn’t take heed to the warning huh?

Chopper (Eugene) still lives in Omaha employed in the mortgage lending business. He’s a loyal fan of the Kansas City Royals.

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Dads made memories special at Rosenblatt Stadium


 

Rosenblatt Stadium

2010 College World Series at Rosenblatt Stadium

Fathers Day and Rosenblatt go together like peanut butter and jelly, especially considering one or more College World Series games are typically played on Fathers Day.

Following are a few memories Rosenblatt fans shared of their fathers:

My Dad and I always played in a father-son golf tournament every year on Father’s Day. In 2002 I went to the CWS for the first time and on Father’s Day that year I was down on the bridge in right field when Nebraska was playing South Carolina. I called my Dad and while I was talking to him I snapped a picture down the …line towards home plate. It was a beautiful Nebraska afternoon and the picture turned out great…especially with all that red in the crowd.

My Dad died suddenly that Fall and I never spent another Father’s Day with him. I take that picture to work with me each year around CWS time and the 3 times I’ve been to the CWS since then I have always tried to sit somewhere in that right field corner on Father’s Day. I have a lifelong tie to Rosenblatt as it was the last place I talked to my Dad on Father’s Day. Curt Stimpson


My dad took me to my first concert after a Royal’s game. I don’t recall the year, but I was really young. Maybe about 4 or 5 years old. It was Huey Lewis and the News. It’s a shame that Rosenblatt is gonna be no more. It makes me sad. I think me and my dad will attend the .38 Special concert in July. One final game, One final concert for old times sake. Tammy Maguire

My dad taking me to the CWS and Royals games from the time I was a little girl. We still go to a game or two and after this year, I will not get to see another live CWS game. Jacque Mass Reumund


My dad and I took our first trip to the CWS this year and we loved every minute of it. It was amazing, Rosenblatt has an aura about it that transcends time. I will hate to see it go but I’m glad my dad and I had the opportunity to experience Rosenblatt and the CWS… Omaha you should dig up the Rosenblatt dirt and put it in the new stadium, there’s magic in that dirt. Jody Black


Great memories of Rosenblatt – went every night with our Dad to see the then Omaha Cardinals. If you can believe – had tshirts that allowed us to get in free. Love baseball to this day!! Nancy Yambor


I will miss Rosenblatt. Lots of memories from my father living a block away watching it getting built to working there. As a family we would go to the Royals games. Carol Hughes

Now it’s your turn. Share your own memory of Dad and Rosenblatt by clicking “Leave a reply” below (only your comment and name will be visible to other readers) or on the Rosenblatt Stadium fan page on Facebook.

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What happened to Rosenblatt Stadium?


Every day more people are asking, “What happened to Rosenblatt Stadium“? In this blog I will answer that question and a few others that have been coming up.

Photo by Paul Fiarkoski

What happened to Rosenblatt Stadium?
In the Spring of 2009, after much debate and posturing, it was announced that the City of Omaha would be building a new stadium (TD Ameritrade Park) in downtown Omaha. The new stadium is scheduled to open on April 15, 2011. It will be the site of the NCAA College World Series (CWS) for at least the next 25 years, thanks to a contract extension that city leaders say would not have happened without the new stadium.

Why was a new stadium needed?
The real answer to this question remains a mystery. Different answers are offered by different people depending on their experience with Rosenblatt and their knowledge of the situation.

City of Omaha officials have offered all sorts of rationale as to why a new stadium is needed, with the mainstay answer being, “If Omaha doesn’t build a new stadium, we could lose the College World Series.”

Officials from the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) are on record as saying they never threatened to move the College World Series out of Omaha if a new stadium was not built.

Folks at College World Series Omaha, Inc. say Rosenblatt is too small. (Note: the new stadium adds only 900 more seats.)

People with Rosenblatt’s primary tenant for decades, the Omaha Royals, said the new stadium would be too big for them.

What was wrong with Rosenblatt Stadium?
According to most who attended events at Rosenblatt in her final year, there was nothing wrong with the “old” stadium. One consistent gripe was that the concourses got pretty crowded at the beginning and end of near-capacity games. Rosenblatt had all the charm and mystique of Fenway Park or Wrigley Field and plenty more life left in her. The stadium rarely sold out – maybe five to eight games each year during the CWS. The new stadium will hold about 900 more people and will have all the conveniences Americans desire these days – more club level seating, wider seats, cup holders, tv monitors at the concession stands and in the bathrooms.

Who will play at the new stadium?
It is certain that Creighton University will play it’s regularly scheduled home baseball games at the new stadium. Additionally, the top eight teams that make it to the College World Series each year will play there for at least the next twenty-five years. In 2011 and later years, the Omaha Nighthawks United Football League team will play their regular season home games at the new stadium. It’s likely that the new stadium will also be used for concerts and other such events too.

Rather than play in the new stadium, Omaha’s Triple A minor league team decided to build their own $26 million stadium (Werner Park) in the suburb of Papillion to the south and west of Omaha.

What will be done with Rosenblatt Stadium?
The United Football League Championship game on November 27, 2010 was the last scheduled sporting event at Rosenblatt. There has been talk of some additional events to celebrate Rosenblatt’s legacy in 2011, but nothing is firm as of this writing.

Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo (site of the big glass dome beyond Rosenblatt’s right field) has been given the land on which Rosenblatt sits in exchange for all current debt of the stadium. The zoo will ultimately decide on what happens with the structure. All indications are that in the near term the stadium will be demolished to make way for more parking spaces.

Home plate is already on display at the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY and the zoo released plans in 2010 that would preserve a small scale version of the stadium leaving first base line and the foul pole intact. It will be a sort of gathering spot for families visiting the zoo. Longer term, there has been talk that a panda exhibit will be located in the spot where legends of the game once played.

Stadium Comparison

  Rosenblatt Stadium TD Ameritrade Park
Total Seating Capacity 23,100 24,000
Outfield Dimensions (in feet) LF – 335, LCF – 375 Same
C – 408, RC – 375, RF – 335 Same
Home Plate to First Row Seats 60 Feet 52 Feet
Average Concourse Width 20 Feet 32 Feet – Infield
30 Feet – Outfield
Leg Room Between Rows Varies From 30 to 36 Inches All 36 Inches
Number of Elevators 2 4
Total Cost $25 million* $ 128 million
CWS ticket prices (GA) $ 7 $ 8
CWS ticket prices (reserved) $ 22 $ 28

*estimate, includes initial build cost plus improvements over the years; not adjusted for inflation.

Read more about my love affair with Rosenblatt in a blog I wrote called The Road Back to Omaha. Share your memories and photos with other fans on the Rosenblatt Stadium fan page on Facebook or by clicking “Leave a comment” below.

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