Showing posts with label Old Market. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Old Market. Show all posts

Monday, December 10, 2018

It's Christmastime in the city

As my wife and I wandered Sunday night around Omaha's Old Market, a couple of things became clear.
That is, besides it being chilly.

OK, damn cold. It is December, and this is Nebraska.
Al fresco season is over until May, unless, of course, your name happens to be Alfonse Fresco. We've no intention of cheating Mr. Fresco out of a single day, which leads me to clarify that Al Fresco season would be the season for Al Fresco and not the season on Al Fresco.

It is a sign of the times that this has to be made clear.

Now, where was I?

Seasons, I believe. And wintertime in the Old Market, Omaha's favorite downtown spot for sidewalk dining and people watching.

The other thing what was clear as we walked down Howard Street -- apart from the unpleasant epiphany that I should have worn a coat, not a jacket, and that it might have been a good idea for my lovely bride to wear . . . socks -- is that Christmas is nigh.
Ho, ho, ho, y'all.
Merry Christmas!

Monday, April 03, 2017

The city drops into the night

Eight-ish o'clock, Sunday night.

The Mexican joint in the Old Market Passageway has just closed for the evening, and I am full of chips, cerveza and the No. 2 combination plate.

The swanky joint next door is closed on a slow night for dining out.

Omaha is sluggishly, reluctantly steeling itself for the end of the weekend and the start of another workweek. But it's even worse than that -- there's a city primary election Tuesday.

When did we come to dread elections? Sigh.

All is quiet on the downtown front.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Yesterday and today

Bostwick-Frohardt Collection/The Durham Museum
January 1905, 11th and Howard in Omaha's Old Market.
January 2016, 11th and Howard in Omaha's Old Market.

Monday, July 07, 2014

Saturday in the Old Market, Omaha

Give me a camera and Omaha's Old Market downtown . . . and I'll go shutterbug nuts.

Which I did Saturday evening.

You see, the Old Market is photogenic. This scene is
just east of the Jackson Street Tavern, where
we had a tasty supper and drinks.

In this instance, the Market also is quite blue.
I guess you could call this scene outside
J's on Jackson something of a Blue Light Special.

This photo is best enjoyed with a cold cerveza.

And we leave you with some of the Omaha skyline

Thursday, June 06, 2013

7 can help . . . revive a landmark

Wow. Just wow.

In 1898, Burlington Station was built to make a big impression -- there was a world's fair going on in the young city on the Plains, and the message to Trans-Mississippi Exposition visitors was to be singular from the moment they stepped off the train.
Everything is up to date in Omaha.

A century and change later, steam locomotives have gone the way of  T. Rex (both the dinosaur and the band), and old Burlington Station has been something of a fossil itself. The last Burlington Northern passenger train pulled off into the sunset in 1971, and then-new Amtrak abandoned the depot in 1974 for much smaller, cheaper-to-maintain digs next door.

So there it has sat for almost 40 years . . . alone in its faded glory.

Likewise for the last four decades, Omahans have driven down 10th Street, glanced over from the viaduct and thought "Somebody really needs to do something with Burlington Station."

WEDNESDAY, somebody stepped up to do something with Burlington Station. KETV announced that a renovated Burlington would be the new, bigger and state-of-the-art home for Channel 7 in a couple of years.
Ariel Roblin, president and general manager of KETV, said Wednesday that the television station has been at 2665 Douglas St. for 50 years, a time of significant change for broadcasting. Station officials, looking for a larger, updated facility, considered several sites and were attracted by the chance to bring a historic building back to life while gaining more operating space.

The project represents a multimillion-dollar investment in Omaha, she said, but she declined to estimate the total cost.

“It allows us to move with the technology,” Roblin said. “We looked at all kinds of options, but this one really made sense to us because it exemplifies what we do. Bringing back an old building to something beautiful and used and honored is important to us.”
KETV's plan calls for restoring the building's exterior to its historic appearance, Roblin said, which may qualify for preservation tax credits, and installing the newest technology inside.“One of the things that rang the most true was everyone's memories of being in this building,” she said. “We haven't finalized the plans for the interior yet, but we do have in mind that there is probably going to be some area that people will be able to access so that they can experience what we've done and may take a trip down memory lane for themselves.”

The news operation would be on the building's first floor, with administration, advertising and other departments on the second floor. The site has ample parking. Roblin said plans for the 2665 Douglas property are uncertain.

Constructed in 1898 and extensively remodeled in 1930, the limestone and brick depot has been vacant, while the Union Station just to the north was restored and turned into the Durham Museum, housing historic Omaha artifacts and related exhibits.
WOW. Just wow.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Jail-o-gram for Mongo!

The trouble with booze is it just makes some idiots -- even the girls -- think they're Alex Karras.

But they're not, as this article in the
Omaha World-Herald once again illustrates:
Three police officers and a horse were needed to take a 20-year-old Omaha woman into custody early Sunday in the Old Market after she intervened in a traffic stop.

Officer Jacob Bettin, a police spokesman, said the three officers all sustained minor injuries including scratches, cuts and bite marks during the incident. The woman was booked into jail for resisting arrest, three counts of assaulting an officer and one count of assaulting a police service animal.

Bettin said the incident began about 1:20 a.m. when the woman approached an officer who had made a traffic stop near 10th and Harney Streets. The woman, who was not part of the traffic stop, approached the officer and became “verbally and physically combative,” he said.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Spinning records, nurturing dreams

"Progress" happens. New things come; old things go.

Kids quit going to record stores, and they start "file-sharing" or buying singles comprised of ones and zeros on
iTunes. Digital in, physical presence out.

But with all the things the electronic marketplace can do, and with all the convenience and immediacy it offers, there are some things -- important things -- that get lost in translation. One thing is magical, musical places like The Antiquarium record store on the edge of Omaha's Old Market.

Another thing is the kind, curmudgeonly, opinionated presence of someone like Dave Sink -- the grandfather of the Omaha indie scene and purveyor of great old LPs, CDs and punk 45s. I know. I left much of my money there, then brought many of those LPs , CDs and 45s here.

And for a while there, I probably saw Dave every single week. So did a bunch of young kids with big dreams -- like Conor Oberst of Bright Eyes fame.

That won't be happening anymore. Some years back, Dave retired, and then The Antiquarium record store moved around the corner after its longtime home was sold. And now Dave is dead.

ON THE Hear Nebraska website, Oberst (one of the kids I used to see around the record store) explains what iTunes will never be, not in a million years:
I don’t remember the first time I went to the Antiquarium or met Dave Sink. It all just kind of happened. I suppose I would have been 12 or so, just tagging along with my brothers and the older kids from the neighborhood. Whenever that was I know I could not have known then that that place would become the epicenter of discovery for my musical life (and life in general) and probably the single most sacred place of my adolescence. Dave was a rare bird. He had a way of making you feel good even as he insulted you. He was especially kind to misfits and oddballs. Hence him nearly always being surrounded in the shop by a small enclave of disaffected youth. Boys mostly, but girls too, who would sit hour after hour listening to him pontificate about punk rock, baseball, local politics, French literature, chess, philosophy, modern art or whatever was the topic of the day. The thing about Dave that gave him such a loyal following was not just the way he talked to us but also the way he listened. At a time in life when most all adults are to be seen as the enemy it was strange to meet one who was on your side. He treated us as peers, like our ideas and ambitions were worth something. He wasn’t always pleasant or polite, but he wasn’t a fake. And it is that quality that cuts through the angst and straight to the teenage heart.

He made me feel like my dreams and plans mattered, encouraging me to pursue them even as he talked trash on my latest recording or most recent show. It is true you had to be a bit of a masochist to be friends with Dave, but despite his sarcasm and argumentative nature he had a soft heart and generous spirit. He gave me a lot of good advice over the years, as well as my first real stereo and turntable. He said he couldn’t stand watching me waste my money on the inferior formats of CDs and cassettes.
NEITHER will radio be, not anymore, what Dave Sink and his little record store (down the stairs and to the basement of the old building on Harney Street) were to its city. Maybe radio once was . . . kind of. That was a long time ago -- a generation or more ago -- back before dull men in pricey suits began to erase all the "Dave" out of their now-sinking industry.

Antiquarium Records was a social network digital eons before
MySpace and Facebook. It got the word out when radio wouldn't, and this nascent Internet thing couldn't.

Kevin Coffey picks up the story in the
Omaha World-Herald:
Sink loved vinyl, underground and obscure music, baseball and talking to customers, often recommending something or flat-out criticizing their purchases.

He also started One Hour Records, which released music from local bands such as Mousetrap, Ritual Device and Simon Joyner, among others.

When Gary Dean Davis' band, Frontier Trust, wanted to put out a record, Sink was their man. Davis, owner of SPEED! Nebraska Records and a Catholic school principal, recalled getting the first pressing of the band's record and racing to the Antiquarium to play it.

"We didn't have a radio station, so the Antiquarium kind of became that because there were kids hanging down there," Davis said. "We'd play our record and they'd immediately come down to the counter and say, 'How can I get that?'"

Davis recalled him as a local music booster who made kids in bands feel like they were doing something legitimate.

Sink's death left many to wonder what Omaha's nationally-recognized music scene would be without him.

"Dave was neither subtle nor short of opinion," said Robb Nansel, president of Saddle Creek Records. "I shudder to think of what this city would look like if there had been no Dave and no Antiquarium. It's safe to say there would be one less record label and one less music venue calling Omaha home."
YOU KNOW those records by Frontier Trust and The Monroes (another Davis "tractor punk" band) you sometimes hear on 3 Chords & the Truth? Where the hell do you think I got many of them?

Where the hell do you think I heard about the Monroes?

We live in a cynical world, one that loves money, breeds alienation and waits for a hero . . . in that Godot-esque sort of way.

Heroes we have. They dwell in out-of-the-way places like smoky basements filled with musty vinyl. They're so close, yet so far away.

Kind of like our hopes and dreams.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Busted. Trapped. In their sights. Over. Out.

It had to happen. I turn 50 this month, and the AARP has caught up to me.

AARP is the American Association of Retired Persons. You get this mailing -- kind of like a draft notice back in the day, only worse, because the military only wants young people -- just before you turn 50.

That's when this bunch of old-fart
, bloodsucking bastards starts chasing you down like a crazed redneck with a 12-gauge and a spotlight on his head chases down a scared, helpless raccoon in the dead of the night. Only worse.

They try to trap you, using senior-citizen discounts and cheap auto insurance as bait. Then, when you open the envelope, thinking "Gee, that's interesting. What could it hurt?" . . . WHAM!

You got your head deep in an open jar of peanut butter when you hear the click of the metaphorical hammer being pulled back on the proverbial shotgun, and it's too late for you, podna.


Next thing you know, you're heading out to the Old Country Buffet for a 5:15 supper, dressed to the nines in your "Old Fart" T-shirt, garish Bermuda shorts, calf-high black dress socks and K-mart store-brand tennis shoes. Kill me now.

I didn't take 40 well, and I suspect I'll take 50 even less well. If you want to do me a favor, send booze.

Lots of it.


Tuesday, July 13, 2010

If the Big Easy doesn't want its musicians. . . .

Some people think Omaha is dull.

Unlike places like, oh . . . New Orleans.

But while the City That Care Forgot has been making news by trying to roll up the sidewalks -- at least for street musicians -- by 8, here's what I found Sunday night in boring ol' Omaha's Old Market. The top shot was taken at 8:31 p.m.

THIS WAS at 8:44 p.m. . . . on a really slow night for Old Market buskers.

AND THIS was at 8:52.

In New Orleans, this would be nearly an hour past "music curfew."

THERE IS a term for this kind of thing in a city that lives (and dies) by tourism and music. I think it's "nuts."

In fact, it might be the craziest damn thing you hear this year.

Now if New Orleans
-- prone to occasional hissy fits in which it bites the musical hand that feeds it . . . probably some sort of subconscious rebellion against having "always depended on the kindness of strangers" -- doesn't appreciate its wealth of musical talent, we'd be happy to take some of it off the Big Easy's hands.

They could play on Old Market street corners (
or, for that matter, in up-and-coming NoDo) until, say, 11 without getting busted. And I'm guessing they could do pretty good business, especially on weekends.

In fact, I'm thinking the Omaha Convention and Visitors Bureau ought to bring New Orleans' most-harassed group, the To Be Continued Brass Band, up here this fall to lead a jazz funeral for Rosenblatt Stadium after the Omaha Central-Creighton Prep football game there -- one of its last events. Just second line all the way up 10th Street from the old ballpark to the new place in NoDo.

And get
ESPN to cover it for SportsCenter.

I'm seeing,
in my mind's eye, a weekend "celebration of life" for Rosenblatt and a "welcome your baby" shower for TD Ameritrade Park. Then, To Be Continued could play a Saturday-evening show in the Omaha Chamber of Commerce courtyard at 13th and Howard streets.

Go ahead. Pass the hat.

Because Omaha is that kind of town.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

No nothing on the sidewalk

Dude! If you can't skateboard or roller-skate on the sidewalk in the Old Market, it's not like you can do it on the century-old brick streets!

That would be, like, fatal!




Thursday, May 01, 2008

Making wishes into horses . . . or stadiums

Whenever a city aims to do something big -- or something as simple as small but different -- there will be squabbles.

OK, there will be knockdown, drag-out fights. Blood in the streets, even. That's the nature of what happens when a city full of non-Stepford Wives tries to combine a thing called "development" with a thing called "democracy."

THE SAD FACT of the human condition is that some people are less visionary than others. And some people are less intelligent, too. And some people just flat-out don't like to work and play well with others.

Furthermore, this "democracy" thing gives contrarians (of whatever stripe) plenty of leeway to create plenty of mischief. Not to mention strife. Mayors can even get shouted down at public forums.

For many cities, that contrarian-democracy interface can be enough to keep a city in the minor leagues forever, if not mire its citizens in an inescapable backwater hellhole. The Bell Curve being what it is most everywhere -- though some areas can be more or less blessed than average -- what is the difference between thriving, developing municipality and "Oh my God, you live where!?"

I don't know that anyone is exactly sure, but I suspect it has something to do with being slightly above average on the Bell Curve populationwise, an effective chief executive and active, visionary civic and business leadership.

For Omaha, it would seem the stars are aligning. After a civic donnybrook, the dust has cleared and there's going to be a new downtown baseball stadium right here in River City. And the College World Series will remain in the Big O until at least 2030.

And the city might be getting a brand-new streetcar system as part of the bargain. With the price of oil climbing into the stratosphere, that's not only cool, but practical.

WE READ the World-Herald today, oh boy. About a lucky city that made the grade:

Fresh from reaching an agreement with the NCAA to play the College World Series at a new downtown stadium, Mayor Mike Fahey is turning his attention to what's next.

Out of his drawer, Fahey pulled plans for a $55 million streetcar loop that would join the Old Market and Creighton University to north downtown. That loop would go by the front entrance of the new stadium on Webster Street.

"It's incumbent on any mayor to continually think about the next move," Fahey said today. "We want the momentum to continue."

Fahey has been talking about a streetcar system for several years and received a privately funded proposal in the fall of 2006. But the streetcar plan sat on the back burner as Fahey fired up the effort to land a long-term agreement to keep the CWS in Omaha.

That 18-month effort is now close to completion with the NCAA agreeing Wednesday to keep the CWS in Omaha for at least 20 years after the current contract expires at the end of the 2010 championship.

"It seems to make sense economically," Fahey said of the streetcar system. "If you look around the country at progressive cities, better mass transportation systems are part of the equation."

The city may need to move quickly, perhaps this summer, to come up with a financing plan to fund the cost of a streetcar, Fahey said.


The downtown streetcar loop was proposed as the first phase of a more extensive system that could connect downtown with the new Midtown Crossing residential and commercial development and the University of Nebraska Medical Center. Another branch could run south from downtown to the Henry Doorly Zoo.

Mutual of Omaha, the developer of Midtown Crossing, has talked with the city about opening the western branch sooner rather than later, Fahey said.

While the stadium and streetcar are separate projects, they complement each other, said Fahey and Doug Bisson, a community planner with Omaha-based HDR.

"One project by itself is cool," Bisson said, "but the two together are really amazing."

Bisson, who suggested a downtown ballpark in a 2005 study of north downtown and worked on the streetcar project, said the new stadium linked to other downtown attractions would create "that wow factor."

"What it would do is turn our downtown into a true downtown," Bisson said.

But first things first. Fahey wants to turn the CWS agreement into a firm contract. That's likely to happen before the series opens at Rosenblatt Stadium on June 14.

CWS Inc. President Jack Diesing said a championship contract that runs through at least 2030 is an unprecedented feat of which Omaha should be proud. The city has hosted the CWS since 1950 with a series of one-year to five-year contracts.

"The NCAA does not have any agreements that are five years, let alone the 20-year deal we have," Diesing said.

The exact length of the contract is still being negotiated — it's possible that the final contract could be for 25 years.

I COME FROM BATON ROUGE. To me, this kind of civic competence and rapid development is disconcerting. For all the charms Louisiana possesses -- and there are many -- organizational ability and indomitable civic spirit are not among them.

Growing up in Baton Rouge, I observed many people come up with many grand civic schemes. In fact, there is a veritable Mardi Gras parade of cool stuff that either never got off the drawing board, got shot down by flak from the short-sighted contrarian brigades or actually got developed but then died on the vine for lack of public interest.

The thing is, my hometown has all kinds of transportation, natural-resource, climate and geographical advantages that cities like Omaha could only lust after. Perhaps that's part of Baton Rouge's problem.

When the pioneers started settling the Nebraska Territory more than 150 years ago, there were two basic options for the newcomers: 1) Be industrious, hardy and civic minded, or 2) die. On occasion, the civic-minded part hit a rough patch in that rough-and-tumble pioneer era but, fortunately, industrious and hardy always were enough to carry the day.

In case you hadn't noticed, winter can be cold, long and brutal on the Great Plains. Summer can be dry and hotter than a blast furnace. And wherever you see a tree that's not in a river valley or along a creek, you can be assured that the pioneers or their descendants planted it there.

Likewise, out in western Nebraska long, long ago, there used to be another description for the Sandhills -- which lie squarely within America's present-day grain- and cattle belts. That would be sand dunes.

CIVIC LEADERS from my hometown like to take road trips -- junkets to study some big-time place or another to collect ideas on how to turn Baton Rouge into America's Next Great City (TM). Likewise, there have been any number of grand plans, blueprints that surface long enough to make a splash in the news media before slowly sinking into the primordial muck of the Bluebonnet Swamp, never to be heard of again.

So, what is the deal with that beautiful downtown park that's supposed to be built on piers above the Mississippi River?

And why, exactly, is Baton Rouge prevented from being the abandoned-building, civic-dishabille capital of the United States only by the existence of New Orleans and a few unfortunate Northeastern hellholes?

What does studying Austin . . . or Nashville . . . or Portland have to do with fixing stuff like that? What do those cities today have in common with my hometown?

IF STUDY A CITY they must, I'd suggest Red Stick's poobahs come to Omaha not for a few days, but for a few months. Spend some time in its public schools, and see exactly how much taxpayers have to spend to keep them in a hell of a lot better shape than Baton Rouge's.

And stay until they understand why people in my mid-city school district repeatedly raise their own property taxes to make sure their schools stay that way. Let's just say the physical difference between Omaha's Westside High School and my alma mater, Baton Rouge Magnet High, is akin to the difference between midtown Manhattan and Port-au-Prince.

The Omaha metropolitan area is similar in size to the Baton Rouge metro, though Omaha itself is a good deal larger than Louisiana's capital. Both are river cities, with Omaha hugging the Missouri while Baton Rouge is a major port on the Mississippi.

Likewise, the downtowns of both cities used to be dumpy and largely desolate after 5 p.m. Baton Rouge's is getting past the dumpiness and desolation (and one plan-become-reality, the Shaw Center for the Arts, is magnificent) but -- as evidenced by the kind of development epitomized by the planned baseball stadium and the present Qwest Center -- Omaha's is approaching "Wow!"

IF A BATON ROUGE delegation came to Omaha, they'd learn that what now is "Wow!" was, a decade ago, a lead smelter. And a scrap yard.

But I guess there's nothing to be learned from that little fact. Or from how that little fact came to be . . . fact. As opposed to just another fancy plan.

UPDATE: Omaha's new deal to keep the College World Series -- at the new downtown stadium -- isn't for 20 years.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Go to bat for Omaha

We're in the middle of an epic debate here in Omaha, the kind that only comes around every decade or three. We're trying to decide how to best keep the College World Series in town.

Do we build a new baseball stadium downtown? Or do we completely redo 60-year-old Rosenblatt Stadium . . . which lies Not Downtown.

HERE'S A FEW WORDS of wisdom to ponder before we proceed to disemboweling one another: You don't tug on Superman's cape; you don't spit into the wind.

You don't put lipstick on a pig, and you don't do yet another patchwork redesign of a stadium. Omaha has done that once -- remember the Civic Auditorium remodel? -- and we still ended up building the Qwest Center Omaha arena and convention center.

And a good thing we did.

Now, we're supposed to think fixing up old Rosenblatt Stadium is the way to go to keep the College World Series in Omaha forever and ever, amen. That probably would work OK if we didn't have to worry about a few things.

One, that the National Collegiate Athletic Association is a demanding mistress. A very, very demanding mistress. You give her a Buick, and she's gonna want a Mercedes as soon as she can get away with demanding another new car -- which, in the case of the NCAA, would be when the new "extended" contract is up for renewal in 15 years or so.

Just like when it's time to buy a new home computer, buying less than what you need never is a wise long-term decision. And for so many reasons, losing the CWS is not an option for the Big O.

Another consideration -- a big one -- is economic development. Where is the boost to the region's economic development in fixing up Rosenblatt Stadium?

Bueller . . . ? Bueller . . . ? Bueller . . . ? Bueller . . . ?

THE FACT IS, there is no boost. Renovating Rosenblatt and keeping the College World Series down on 13th Street -- assuming that fixing up the old stadium can keep the CWS down on 13th Street for the long term -- is, at best, a status quo proposition economically.

The prospects for economic development down on South 13th lie not in an old municipal baseball stadium, but instead in the nationally acclaimed Henry Doorly Zoo. There, we find the state's No. 1 paid attraction hemmed in by the old ball yard -- unable to expand and short of parking when the CWS is in town.

For the average fan seeking to kill time before, after or between CWS games, there is no shopping or sit-down dining within walking distance of the stadium. Hotel rooms are few near the venue.

You do have a couple of bars, a beer garden and some otherwise vacant old houses turned into whatever for two weeks out of the year. Parking, naturally, is a nightmare, and South 13th isn't exactly a mass-transit hub for the greater Omaha area.

Nor could it be made into a mass-transit hub, assuming anyone wanted to. And why? For two weeks a year?

Building downtown . . . even building downtown at twice the cost of renovation, you have the probability of collateral development and business growth far outpacing the extra money the city shells out. I think someone once dubbed that phenomemon "You gotta spend money to make money."

The impact on downtown Omaha would rival that of replacing a century-old lead smelter with a riverfront park and the Qwest Center Omaha. A new stadium would be a natural anchor for new retail and restaurant development, while serving as a boost to existing downtown businesses.

And a lot of visiting fans who formerly had to load up the car and drive to the Series would instead walk out of their hotel, saunter down the street a ways and walk in the stadium gate. As would a lot of people already downtown . . . because they work there.

SPEAKING OF DOWNTOWN, how'd you like Omaha's "King Corn" image from the recent American Idol episode taped here?

With the CWS at Rosenblatt, ESPN's exterior shots on game broadcasts can center on a congested 13th Street lined by repurposed, semi-dumpy old houses. Or you can get a shot or three of the zoo. Or fans grabbing some burgers and malts at Zesto's.

Perhaps a nice shot of fans milling around the parking lot.

Did I mention the zoo and Zesto's?

How, pray tell, does that advance Omaha's "branding," shifting it toward the cosmopolitan and away from cows and corn? Or corn and cows?

Short answer: It doesn't.

The easy, natural visuals from downtown would belie the stereotype, no matter how hard network crews might try to perpetuate it. Every wide shot would include Omaha's growing skyline.

And surrounding the new stadium, within range of roving camera crews, would lie the spruced-up Missouri River landing. The towering new pedestrian bridge across the Missouri. The charming Old Market. The emerging North Downtown (NoDo) entertainment district, including Saddle Creek Records' Slowdown club, with all its indie-rock cred.

What else could the TV cameras show the nation, without crews much breaking a sweat?

How about street musicians, pub crawlers and people solving the problems of the Free World at cafes and coffee shops?

The green space and lagoon of the Gene Leahy Mall. Horse-drawn carriages filled with young lovers and smiling tourists. Century-old Central High School.

The Joslyn Art Museum and the Durham Western Heritage Museum.

An emerging cosmopolitan city.

No cows. No corn.

Unless, of course, the Nebraska Cornhuskers made it to college baseball's big dance. Then you might see a few "cornheads."

I think most marketing types would call a downtown stadium's PR value to Omaha a "home run."

I CAN ENVISION a new stadium somewhere in NoDo giving the whole district a big dose of NoDoz. Imagine a stadium busy year round because it would have "storefront" eateries and retail incorporated into its design. A public plaza, too. And a Zesto's.

Picture Johnny Rosenblatt Field at . . . Cabela's Stadium. With a scaled-down Cabela's as the anchor storefront retail tenant, specializing in jerseys, fan apparel and basic sporting goods. Like balls, bats and gloves.

Imagine the marketing tie-in potential . . . and the growth potential for a Nebraska corporation. As in "Official Retailer of the NCAA's Men's College World Series."

Not too bad, eh? Or if Cabela's didn't want to go there, "there" being far afield from the "outdoorsman" thing, what about Dick's? Or whatever?

Being that Omaha now has a choice to make, it's useful -- necessary, actually -- to give the possibilities of What Might Be equal consideration to the nostalgia Rosenblatt backers Wish Still Was.

BUT HERE'S THE THING. The College World Series of Mom, apple pie, hot dogs, the "Twizzler Man" and a big small town has been all but killed dead by the Two Horsemen of the Apocalypse -- Progress and Money.

Yes, I know you THINK there's supposed to be a full Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. But when you have Progress and Money on the horizon, riding at you, any more would just be overkill.

So, trust me. The CWS my father-in-law helped bring to Omaha, the one he tirelessly promoted for more than three decades . . . that CWS is part of Omaha's history. Already, it's been written out of this city's future, Rosenblatt or no Rosenblatt.

Long gone are the days when my wife and her siblings helped her dad put up CWS posters in store windows and big promotional signs in hotel lobbies.

There is no more "Dingerville," the ad-hoc summertime small town of recreational vehicles, cold beer and good cheer. Its mayor, die-hard Louisiana State fan Glenarp Allmendinger died some years back, and what was left of his "municipality" got relocated and, finally, evicted for good.

Likewise, the Twizzler Man now roams the left-field bleachers only in our memories. Only in our sweet dreams of bright June afternoons do we still hear his credo, recited by all after another of his dozens of bags of red Twizzers had been passed among the sunburned baseball faithful:

"Share with your neighbor, and don't be stingy."

SEE, you can't bring food into the stadium anymore. Not even Twizzlers. Cops search your stuff to make sure. That, and to make sure you're not toting a "dirty bomb" in this post-9/11 world.

And bottled water is three bucks. That's enough to make a person stingy.

It's also enough to make clear that what we loved about the College World Series, and Rosenblatt Stadium, hasn't existed for some years now. At least not within the NCAA-governed confines of the old ballpark. What we have inside the concourses and below the grandstands has come to more closely resemble the big-time, big-money, Big Media worlds of college football's BCS Championship Game and college basketball's Final Four.

There, there's no room for the Twizzler Man. No accomodation for a Midwestern city's nostalgia for the more innocent days of a cherished local institution.

My father-in-law -- Mr. CWS if ever there was a Mr. CWS -- died before my alma mater, LSU, won the second of its five national titles in 1993 . . . an eternity ago. There are no more signs in hotel lobbies, and my wife slapped her last CWS poster in her last storefront window more than three decades ago.

Money and Progress are telling us, in all likelihood, that we can hold on to the relic that is Rosenblatt or we can hold on to the College World Series. The NCAA can't take the memories we hold so close to our hearts as Omahans, but it can pack up the series and move it to Money's new favorite getaway.

It's time to do what we must. Let the College World Series become what it's bound to become, but let it do it at a shiny new home in cosmopolitan downtown Omaha. As opposed to cosmopolitan downtown Indianapolis . . . or wherever.

The venue may change, but that can't stop Omahans from still being who they are, or from making brand-new memories in a brand-new ballyard. Memories, one hopes, just as sweet as the ones we have from the old place, back in the day.

Just different.