Showing posts with label Rosenblatt Stadium. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Rosenblatt Stadium. Show all posts

Sunday, June 23, 2013

What would they know of such things?

This is the view from Omaha's TD Ameritrade Park just north of downtown.

One sportswriter from Baton Rouge, home of the LSU Tigers, apparently finds this as surprising as he finds the new home of the College World Series lacking in charm.

While I will admit that, with the dismantling and redevelopment of the Union Pacific repair yard and the ASARCO lead smelter, NoDo doesn't have the "gritty" charm of, say, a vista dominated by refineries, chemical plants and a crumbling working man's paradise, you sometimes have to wonder how willfully insular some people -- and places -- can be.

Scott Rabalais writes in The Advocate:
As for the College World Series’ new home, there is no question the ballpark is an upgrade over old Rosenblatt Stadium, a collection of jigsaw pieces the NCAA and the city of Omaha assembled into a 24,000-seat ballpark over the years.

TDAPO is clean, has a broad, sweeping main concourse that allows you to keep up with the lack of offense on the field from any concession or souvenir stand, much improved locker room facilities, indoor batting tunnels and state-of-the-art media facilities.

What it doesn’t have is charm, something the College World Series has lost in the quest to be bigger and better.

Rosenblatt wasn’t the best ballpark in America. It had claustrophobic, dark concourses, few of the all-important club seats and cramped clubhouses for the participating teams. It was the kind of place where you had to go outside to change your mind.

But what it lacked in modern amenities it made up for with buckets of homey ambiance. It fit into the slightly gritty South Omaha neighborhood that grew up around it like a ball in a well broken in baseball glove. The ballpark was like a beloved weekend retreat on False River — not the place where you would want to entertain heads of state, but where you wanted to visit over and over again.

TD Ameritrade Park shiny and new and is surrounded by shiny new restaurants, watering holes and eateries. As an example of urban renewal, it’s top notch. Who knew Omaha could look so slick and refined?

But the new ballpark has the feel of something valuable behind glass that is to be admired but not touched, and certainly not a place where you would feel comfortable putting your feet up on the furniture. It’s a place you would like to visit, but sort of like going to the White House. You’re afraid if you sit on a chair the Secret Service is going to come repelling out of the rafters and hoist you away.

Another thing TD Ameritrade Park probably has over Rosenblatt: big walk-in freezers. In that respect, the new CWS ballpark is in keeping with the warm and fuzzy feeling that everyone gets from the NCAA.

At least TDAPO accomplishes one very important thing: it kept the College World Series in Omaha with an unprecedented 25-year contract. If a new home that leaves everyone with a bit of a chill is the Faustian bargain necessary to guarantee that the city which nurtured the CWS – which loved it before rest of the country figured out it was cool — then it’s worth the loss of rough-hewn folksiness that was Rosenblatt. But just barely.
WHO KNEW it would take a downtown stadium for a sportswriter who's been following LSU to Omaha for years to notice the city's progression toward "slick and refined" over the last couple of decades?

As someone who happily left Baton Rouge for Omaha before it became "so slick and refined," my inner snarkster muses that Rabalais' profound revelation about my city is kind of like a resident of South Sudan proclaiming his disbelief at how "slick and refined" were the Norwegian aid workers. Get out much?

THEN AGAIN, when this is your ballpark just north of downtown, maybe people should just consider the source. Though I'm sure Pete Goldsby Field is loaded with charm. Tell 'em the story again about how Felipe Alou wasn't allowed to play in an Evangeline League game there against the Baton Rouge Rebels in the late '50s because of . . .  you know.

I always find it amazing, though not necessarily surprising, when folks from places that rarely even try give left-handed "compliments" to places that bust their asses to excel. Is where I'm coming from.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

It is (pretty much) finished

In a few weeks, you'd never guess there ever was a baseball stadium on the hill.

Except for the last bits of its torn-down and blown-up carcass, the demolition men have relegated Omaha's Rosenblatt Stadium to blessed memory for those of us who loved it.

The missus and I didn't go back to Rosenblatt in June when zoo officials opened it up during the College World Series for fans to say goodbye. We did that during the last baseball game to be played there in 2010.

I prefer to remember the old gal like this (above). We hold closed-casket funerals for a reason.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

This is the end. My only friend, the end.

Knowing the end is coming, knowing why it must be the end . . . the knowing does not lessen the hurt when the end finally arrives.

The Grim Reaper is a giant mechanical shovel. The Grim Reaper would be more poetic if we still called him a steam shovel. The Grim Reaper is just as merciless by any name.

And the Grim Reaper came for Omaha's old Rosenblatt Stadium today.

I've spent a fair chunk of my adult life, seen amazing things, communed with amazing friends in a place soon to be but a memory. Thanks be to God, steam shovels can't touch the ballpark in my mind.

THE ONE where I was sitting high above the first-base line. 1996. College World Series championship game. Bottom of the ninth. LSU down 8-7 to Miami. Two out. Head in hands. Knee jumping. Praying that Warren Morris just doesn't strike out. That he just gets on base somehow.
"The stretch by Morrison, the pitch. Swung on and hit to right field. That's way back there, way back there . . . HOME RUN! TIGERS WIN! TIGERS WIN! WARREN MORRIS! IT'S A TWO-RUN HOME RUN, AND THE TIGERS ARE THE NATIONAL CHAMPS! I DON'T BELIEVE IT!"
STEAM SHOVEL can't take that away from me.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Ghost in the machine

There's a ghost at the College World Series.

That is, apart from all the phantom home runs still flying out of the ballyard and into some fifth dimension amid this brave new era where real baseballs -- the ones made of leather, twine, rubber and cork -- tend to stay well within the outfield walls of Omaha's brand-new TD Ameritrade Park.

No, it seems to me the ghost haunting the College World Series this year -- haunting baseball's new digs in the River City -- is baseball's old digs in the River City. That old stadium perched atop a hill in south Omaha.

Johnny Rosenblatt Stadium.

OVER AND OVER, its specter appears out of nowhere. The Ghost of Rosenblatt Past horns into casual conversations in the new park.

Into announcers' remarks on ESPN.

Over and over into the pages of the Omaha World-Herald's sports section.

It even interrupts your regularly scheduled video-screen programming.

And even though the new digs compare more than favorably with the old in every way, the ancient, cobbled-together haunt still haunts our hearts and our memories. I wonder whether TD Ameritrade -- shiny and new and sexy in every way . . . all made up with a long future to go -- feels like its competing with an old flame.

I wonder whether that's any easier to take when the old flame is a ghost.

Saturday, September 04, 2010

The last out

That's it.

The Omaha Royals played their last home game of the season Thursday night, and that means those of us who were at Rosenblatt Stadium saw the last baseball game played at the beloved old ballyard.


After 62 years and thousands and thousands of games, Rosenblatt will be torn down, and the baseball legacy of Omaha will shift to the new downtown T.D. Ameritrade Park.

But we Omahans have spent a lot of the big moments of our lives in that old stadium on the hill, and there a piece of our heart
will remain.

And as longtime groundskeeper Jesse Cuevas told the crowd Thursday -- in ceremonies after the last out had been made -- they can tear down Rosenblatt, but it will stand forever in our memories.

Goodbye, old friend.

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.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Take me out to the . . . rain delay?

Take me out to the ball game,

Take me out with the crowd,

Let's buy some tickets -- we'll pass the hat,

'Cause after this year there's no more Rosenblatt,

And it's root, root, root for the strange birds,

If the weather don't break, it's a shame,

For it's one . . .

Two . . .

Three strikes he's out (infrontofthewrongrestroom) . . .

At the old (lastCollegeWorldSeriesatRosenblattStadiumever) . . .

Ball (Ithinkitgotlostinthemudsomewhereonthewarningtrack) . . .


(Which, by the way, ended up with Oklahoma beating South Carolina 4-3 after 6 hours and 16 minutes of rain delays and just under three hours of actually playing ball.)

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Don't let the sun go down on me

In about three weeks, Omaha's Rosenblatt Stadium will play host to its final College World Series, an event that has made its home there since 1950.

Next year, the CWS will move to the brand-new downtown TD Ameritrade Park, and the sun will set on South Omaha's old ballyard on the hill, which will give way to expansion of the Henry Doorly Zoo next door.

For now, though, the Memorial Day sun sets on the new stadium being built in NoDo -- Omaha speak for North Downtown.

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Give me some peanuts and Cracker Jack

Old Rosenblatt Stadium ain't dead yet, but the family's thinking about the wake.

The wake, of course, will be the 2010 College World Series -- an oddity, being that the wake will precede the old baseball stadium's actual demise sometime in September, with the end of the Omaha Royals season.

MEANTIME, Omaha already can see the flashy downtown slickster that's going to replace the old girl in South O, starting with the 2011 CWS. At left is the view from 13th and Cuming streets of the new TD Ameritrade Park.

What's amazing -- at least to me -- is how quickly the site has gone from a Qwest Center Omaha parking lot to an excavation site . . . to this. "This thing really is gonna happen" quickly has gone from an intellectual exercise to a concrete-and-steel reality.

AND HERE'S the view from beyond what will be the right-field seats, while below is a close up of the work on the grandstands and luxury suites.

YOU KNOW, it's starting to look like a real city around these parts. Play ball!

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.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Lies, damn lies and TV 'exclusives'

An NCAA letter that Campaign for Boorish Dignity head Garry Gernandt touts as proof that Rosenblatt Stadium can be saved and still ensure Omaha's future as the long-term host of the College World Series proves only one thing.

IT PROVES that Garry Gernandt is a numbskull, and that the loudmouthed, ill-mannered and sartorially challenged civic lynch mob he leads is on the verge of costing the city the series -- a blow that might well dwarf the shot Omaha took when Enron packed up and moved out in the 1980s.

Here's what KMTV television reporter Joe Jordan, desperate for a "gotcha,"
unveiled as his "big scoop" on today's 5 p.m. newscast:
Action 3 News has uncovered a letter from the NCAA that sheds new light on the stadium battle and could give the city a way out of the current uproar over plans for a new downtown stadium.

The letter was written two weeks before Mayor Fahey took his sales pitch for a new downtown ballpark to the NCAA in Indianapolis, telling the city a one to five year contract extension is possible when the current contract expires in 2008.

In the letter the NCAA clearly noted that, "The NCAA does not have a preference for any specific proposal." The letter was written before several angry public hearings where the Mayor was almost on trial, "You sir should lose your job for this," criticized one angry citizen.

In the letter to College World Series Inc. President jack Deising
[sic], the NCAA may have given the city an out, "If the local community is not of one mind regarding a long-term proposal for the College World Series, the NCAA would consider a traditional hosting term of five or fewer years."
IF YOU READ the actual letter, it's clear than the NCAA might not have a preference for any specific proposal for building a new ballpark. At least not before Omaha made its official pitch in Indianapolis last month. But what is clear from the letter is the NCAA does have a "preference" for -- at a bare minimum -- the kind of radical remake of Rosenblatt Stadium and the surrounding hardscrabble neighborhood that makes absolutely, positively no economic sense when compared to building anew downtown . . . and that it's quite ready to start looking elsewhere for what it demands.

Furthermore, the kind of renovation it's clear the NCAA would like to see at Rosenblatt would displace the Omaha Royals Triple-A baseball team for most of two seasons (likely to another city) and would take virtually the same amount of city revenues to pull off as would building anew in North Downtown next to the Qwest Center.

And if tax-phobic Omaha residents hate the thought that city fathers are plotting to soak them -- despite leaders' repeated denials -- to build a new downtown stadium, logic dictates that they ought to hate a renovation of Rosenblatt with the same level of paranoid, white-hot passion.

LET'S LOOK at what the letter actually says, as opposed to what Gernandt and Channel 3 have been touting.

does the National Collegiate Athletic Association mean when the letter, by baseball director Dennis Poppe, refers to its "expectations of an atmosphere and venue that is befitting the College World Series"?

To get an idea of that, let's go back to what has been reported thus far in the press. First, we go back to Oct. 12 of last year
and open the pages of the Omaha World-Herald:
The details, found in private memos and letters reviewed by The World-Herald, support Mayor Mike Fahey's contention that the NCAA, not the mayor himself, is the driving force behind building a new $100 million stadium in north downtown.

But the letters also help explain why David Sokol, chairman of the Metropolitan Entertainment and Convention Authority, says that Fahey missed his chance early this year to strike a deal that would have retained the series with a much cheaper renovation of Rosenblatt Stadium.

Fahey disputes Sokol's contention, which the businessman made Thursday at a MECA meeting.

Both sides agree on one thing: the moment for a lower-cost renovation of Rosenblatt has passed.

A spokesman from the NCAA echoed that sentiment.

Bob Williams, managing director of media and public relations for the NCAA, said late Thursday: "If you keep Rosenblatt the way it is, it is not going to garner you a long-term agreement."
THERE WE HAVE from the horse's mouth that Rosenblatt as is is unacceptable as a long-term home for the CWS. So what does the NCAA want?

Again, from the World-Herald article from last fall:

On Feb. 23, city officials and Diesing made a formal Rosenblatt proposal to Dennis Poppe, the NCAA's managing director for football and baseball, in Fahey's office. The presentation was complete with flip charts and spread sheets, and Fahey and Diesing believed that it went well.

Then came the NCAA's response on March 12. The NCAA had a totally different concept:

"Build a new state-of-the-art facility to host the Men's College World Series in a location near downtown Omaha," the NCAA wrote in a memo to CWS Inc. "Not doing so amounts to putting an expensive band-aid over what ails aging Rosenblatt Stadium."

Sokol said his reading of the memo was that it was a suggestion to "think outside the box."

The memo points to the age of the stadium, which was built in 1948, as well as its services and amenities.

Rosenblatt has history, according to the NCAA memo, but what makes the CWS different from any other major championship is the affordability of tickets for families. And, according to the memo, affordability is what "makes the CWS so special, not the stadium."

The memo says some of Rosenblatt's character could be incorporated into a new downtown stadium, including moving the Road to Omaha statue to a brick plaza reminiscent of Rosenblatt's entrance.

The NCAA memo put a price tag on a new downtown stadium: $50 million.

The March memo from the NCAA concludes: "It is unlikely the proposed $26 million investment by the Omaha community for Rosenblatt will be the end of major capital improvement needs at the stadium in the next decade."

After receiving the memo, CWS Inc. and city officials brought in an architect to look at a downtown stadium plan. Fahey saw an opportunity to lock in a 20-year contract to ensure that the CWS would stay in Omaha through 2030. The initial downtown plan was presented to the NCAA in May.

On June 24, the NCAA wrote another memo, this time addressing both the downtown stadium plan and the proposed $26 million Rosenblatt renovation.

On Rosenblatt, the NCAA wrote: "There are limitations to Rosenblatt Stadium that are not addressed by the proposed renovation plan." The NCAA then gave an extensive list of problems from narrow concourses to the lack of a drug-testing area.

The NCAA asked whether the city was willing "to commit significantly more than the $26 million to the immediate and long-term needs of the facility."

The NCAA also raised its estimated cost of a new stadium to $100 million, noting that industry contacts consider it "more cost-effective to build a new facility rather than attempt to renovate an aging venue."

"Why would we not pursue the construction of a new stadium given this opinion from the industry?" the NCAA asked in the memo.

Then, on Aug. 28, a more detailed plan for a new stadium north of the convention center and arena was presented to a team of NCAA officials.

On Sept. 14, the NCAA response arrived. While taking no position on where a new stadium should be situated, the NCAA endorsed Omaha's plans. The city and CWS Inc. "have listened to the NCAA's stated needs for the College World Series," it said.

The mayor has formed a seven-person committee to look at all issues related to the ballpark, including rebuilding Rosenblatt.

Sokol, who will sit on that committee, believes that the $26 million renovation would have been enough to satisfy the NCAA had the mayor acted early this year. Now, Sokol believes, it will be much more expensive to keep the CWS.

Diesing, president of CWS Inc., said the process didn't break down, and there's no going back.
PLEASE, DO WE NEED any more evidence to the extent of Gernandt's and the Campaign for Boorish Dignity's utter disingenuousness, not to mention the extent to which TV journalism has become dumbed down and memory-challenged?

Joe Jordan and Garry Gernandt's "gotcha" letter from the NCAA concludes:

IT DOESN'T TAKE a rocket scientist to interpret "would consider a traditional hosting term of five or fewer years following the current agreement's conclusion in 2010." And, no, it does not mean
"Never mind, Omaha. We love you just the way you are."

It doesn't even mean Omaha will get a second chance to get its act together to save the series. It means what it says -- if the city can't come to a prompt agreement on giving the NCAA exactly what it wants -- in effect, a brand-new stadium in a better location or the virtual equivalent thereof -- the NCAA might give Omaha a very few years (or less) to give it exactly what it wants.

Then again, maybe not.

The one thing we do know for certain is there are other cities out there that want the College World Series, and they can give the NCAA exactly what it wants right now. Not in a decade or more . . . or never, if Garry Gernandt and his angry band of ill-mannered louts succeed in bullying the city government into hanging on to a stadium the NCAA no longer sees as fit for its second-largest championship event.

For that matter, a stadium the Omaha Royals aren't too keen on, either.

PERHAPS, in order to buck up city councilmen in the face of insurrection by the Campaign for Boorish Dignity, we can turn to the comments the Save Rosenblatt Committee has seen fit to post on
its own website. I think that would be pretty instructive:
* I have been to many a game there over the last few years and Rosenblatt contains a lot of my memories. My husband is against the demise also. Rosenblatt is a perfectly good stadium. We do not need to demise it and build another just to say we did. Thanks.

* Who wants to go to gun play area omaha to watch a game. NO Thanks




Don't gid rid of Rosenblatt!!! No matter how nice the new stadium would be, it would NOT be the same. SAVE ROSENBLATT!!!

Screw the zoo interests that want Rosenblatt to go away - this is the reality of the situation. The friggin' monkeys, lions and tigers want room to expand. Wrigley Field and Fenway exude the same aura that make Rosenblatt a special place during the CWS.

This is a stupid idea to have it close to Creighton and the Qwest as if traffic on Cumming is not bad enough during Bluejay games and I'm not keen on paying for parking for the Royals!!!!!

The NCAA is always talking about keeping the integrity in athletics, so put your money were your mouth is, LEAVE ROSENBLATT AND THE SERIES WERE IT IS, it's not broken, but the Bowl system is in football is, so FIX THAT!!!!!!!!
ON ONE SIDE of this colossal civic argument, you have facts, figures and a stack of correspondence from the NCAA outlining exactly what it wants for the CWS to stay in Omaha -- and that Rosenblatt ain't it.

On the other side, you have sentimentality, anger, some South Omahans worried their yard-parking franchise is about to disappear . . . and a deluded few who think the CWS will go away
if anybody changes Rosenblatt one iota.

In short, on the one side you have informed opinion -- opinion based on engineering, economics, financials and the NCAA's stated desires for the CWS -- while on the other, the Save Rosenblatt people are counting on the ill-informed to out-holler people who actually know what the hell they're talking about.

Sadly, the louts look like they might win in a rout.

I had thought Omaha was better than that. That's because I had forgotten exactly how good Omahans can be at shooting themselves in the foot . . . and deluding themselves about how manifest to the rest of America are the charms of a midsized city with an intemperate climate in the middle of "flyover country."

Who let the clods out?

Garry Gernandt and Jason Smith brought their "Save Rosenblatt" dial-a-mob to Omaha's Westside High on Monday night, showing the rest of the city that what might pass for "democracy" in South O is cut from the same cloth that gets 15-year-olds sent home for three days at your average secondary school.

BUT THEN AGAIN, out here in Not South O, democracy ideally is a little more nuanced than the lynch-mob tactics by "activists" who think screaming constitutes a rebuttal, rudeness fosters debate and that keeping an old stadium that can't offer the NCAA what it wants will keep the College World Series here forever.

Ideally. Because last night, somebody gave Gernandt's Campaign for Boorish Dignity a map to my neighborhood, and all hell broke loose.

Of course, a reporter for the Omaha World-Herald was there
to document a case study in why America is a republic and not a direct democracy:
During an hourlong question-and-answer period that was interrupted several times by jeers and shouting, residents questioned everything from the financing plan for the proposed $140 million stadium to whether the NCAA would move the College World Series to another city.

Some of the exchanges were more heated than at the previous forums, with attendees interrupting to chant for a vote on the stadium.

Omahan Gary Tevis told Fahey he is worried that the stadium is an unnecessary cost when the city is already facing an expensive overhaul of its sewer system and the debt for the Qwest Center Omaha.

"There is no way that the city is ever going to be able to afford this," Tevis said. "There's more holes in this plan than Swiss cheese."

Omahan Ryan Chappelear told Fahey that he should lose his job over his handling of the stadium issue.

Westside High freshman Troy Green asked why the city was pushing for a new stadium now.

"Why don't you take five years and save up for the new stadium?" Green asked to a round of applause.

Jack Diesing, president of College World Series of Omaha Inc., responded that the city has a "once in a lifetime opportunity" to keep the CWS here, and it has to take it.

"It's not called the road to Rosenblatt, it's called the road to Omaha," said Diesing, who earlier warned that Omaha has a real chance of losing the CWS if the city doesn't move forward with a new stadium.

While many people at the forum loudly opposed the stadium, the plan had supporters. Some were shouted down when they praised Fahey and the baseball stadium oversight committee, while others simply clapped to show support.
SO FAR, the city's stadium study committee -- the body that studied the options, ran the numbers and hired the consultants -- has reams of data supporting its conclusion that a new downtown stadium is the way to go to make the National Collegiate Athletic Association happy and keep the CWS in Omaha for decades to come. And, so far, the Campaign for Boorish Dignity has no studies, no data, no specifics and no clue.

What it does have is a bunch of disruptive boobs and yahoos skilled at shouting down those who are trying to cite studies, share data, give specifics and make a cogent argument.

This is supposed to be persuasive. Well, perhaps that is persuasion in a community where economic development is sending your teen-age daughter out to the curb -- in a bikini -- the third week of June with a sign that says "Park Hear -- $20 CHEEP!"

BUT I GUESS that Omaha -- after
H.L. Mencken's "booboisie" costs it the CWS and the $41 million a year it generates for the city -- will just have to get by on its regular tourist trade. You know, all those millions of people who flock here for the mountains, the sea breezes, the waters and the favorable climate year round.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Campaign for Boorish Dignity

I always used to think of "A Confederacy of Dunces" as a New Orleans thing. A fabulously hilarious, rooted-in-people-I-know, only in New Orleans -- or at least South Louisiana -- thing.

place the likes of Ignatius P. Reilly anywhere else? Squabbling with Mama in front of D.H. Holmeses on Canal Street. Ravenous -- and, unsuprisingly, failed -- vendor of Lucky Dogs in da Quarter. Wearer of a wool hunting cap and plagued by a problematic "valve."

Filler of Big Chief tablets and owner of a soiled bed sheet. Abysmally unsuited leader of a worker rebellion at the Levy Pants factory, soiled-sheeted standard bearer for the Campaign for Moorish Dignity.

Could such a quixotic character, such a comically oblivious lost-causer, exist anywhere outside the Crescent City?

Well, come to think of it . . . yeah.

Enter Omaha City Councilman Garry Gernandt, leader of the fight to save Rosenblatt Stadium and defender of South O residents' right to shake down hapless College World Series fans for ad hoc parking spots on their well-worn lawns.

Concrete blocks optional.

Gernandt and the bedraggled masses behind his Campaign for Boorish Dignity standard stand unalterably and vocally opposed to Mayor Mike Fahey's plan to move the baseball series to a brand-new, state-of-the-art downtown stadium.

Yes, it would cost city coffers just as much to renovate the 60-year-old Rosenblatt to less than what the National Collegiate Athletic Association wants in a CWS venue as it would to build new downtown. And no, down in South O, there still wouldn't be many hotel rooms within walking distance of the CWS site -- so Omaha would have to stiff the NCAA on that point, too.

True, the NCAA has a lengthy list of wants for its fast-growing championship event. And, no, Omaha wouldn't be able to satisfy a lot of those wants at the old park that's been the CWS' home since 1950.

And yes, a new downtown park -- Have I mentioned it would cost the city no more than trying to fix up the aging 'Blatt? -- would meet all those NCAA demands and likely earn the city a 20- to 25-year contract extension as host of the Series. Meanwhile, failure to build a new downtown park likely would cost Omaha the CWS forever and ever, amen.

After 60 years.

But that's not important now. Not to Garry Gernandt and his foot soldiers in the Campaign for Boorish Dignity.

Some of the campaign's
well-researched counterarguments were reported in Friday's Omaha World-Herald:
"Rosenblatt is Omaha. Rosenblatt is the College World Series. Rosenblatt is the tradition of baseball in Omaha," said Al Italia, 75, who has attended CWS games at the old stadium for 58 years.

Mary Ehrhart summed it up: "We are angry, and we are frustrated."
HOW CAN economic-development rationales and financial spreadsheets refute that? Not that CWS of Omaha, Inc., chief Jack Diesing Jr. didn't try . . . when he could get a word in edgewise amid the revolutionary hecklers and boobirds:
Diesing appeared to have the most trouble balancing the emotional attachment to Rosenblatt and the decision to move downtown. He acknowledged several friends in the audience he had spent hours with enjoying the CWS over the past four decades.

"It's been the crown jewel for Omaha for 59 years," Diesing said. "But the decision is not about the past. It's about the future."

"Change is hard," Diesing said, "but change is good."

But Diesing also was heckled when he told the crowd that the NCAA was presented with only the downtown option and not an alternative of a renovated Rosenblatt. After the uproar subsided, Diesing explained that the NCAA asked Omaha to bring its single best proposal and not a stack of options.

AH, but the Good Book sayeth "Let not thy mind be troubled by facts and logic when you think The Man is out to screweth thou overeth and smiteth thy annual lawn-parking windfall."

I'm not sure what book and chapter, but it's somewhere near the back, I think. Right in there between Revelation and Zesto.

No, the important thing to remember is "Rosenblatt is Omaha. Rosenblatt is the College World Series." And if making that point means the actual CWS picks up and moves to Indianapolis . . . or Oklahoma City . . . or Orlando, then so be it. Right?

Thing is, the only other permanent tenant for beloved Rosenblatt Stadium is the Omaha Royals, the Triple-A baseball team whose management really, really would rather play somewhere else than in a ballpark that's three quarters empty just about every time those not-ready-for-prime-time boys of summer take the field.

Without the CWS to justify the existence of -- and forcing the Royals to play in -- a too-big hilltop ballyard, you can bet your last kolache that the club's owners will build their own smaller stadium downtown or extort the city to build one for them. Or else.

Of course, the Campaign for Boorish Dignity could gear up to "save Rosenblatt" one more time, but success would just be telling the O Royals not to let the door hit them in the arse on their way out of town. And where would that leave Rosenblatt Stadium, not to mention South Omaha yard-parking economics?

SEE, THAT'S THE PROBLEM with fired-up mobs of loud people with small brains. They can't see past their slogans, and they never wonder "Who is that odd man with the banner made out of a soiled bedsheet?"

That man would be Garry ("Extra 'R' for sale! Five dolla . . . cheap!") Gernandt. And the thing Gernandt won't tell his 'Blatt mob -- probably because he hasn't figured it out himself -- is that Rosenblatt Stadium is toast, no matter what.

It might be sooner, or it might be later, but the 'Blatt has had it. The only question still open is whether Omaha will lose the 'Blatt and keep the College World Series, or whether it will lose them both.

Now, if it would smooth the path toward building a new baseball stadium in North Downtown, maybe the city could meet the Campaign for Boorish Dignity halfway. Rosenblatt still would come down, and the Henry Doorly Zoo still would get the property, but the city could funnel all the CWS overflow traffic down 13th Street to South O residents' front yards.

Councilman Gernandt would be in charge of the free hayrack shuttle to the new ballpark, and the parking hucksters in the old neighborhood still could soak the out-of-towners for whatever the parking market will bear.

Concrete blocks extra.