What Happened to Rosenblatt Stadium?

January 5, 2011
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Collegebaseball360.com Blogger Paul Fiarkoski  takes a swing at this trending question.

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It’s 2011 and people are starting to ask, “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 memories and photos with other fans on the Rosenblatt Stadium fan page on Facebook

RELATED ARTICLES
A Letter of Thanks to Johnny Rosenblatt
College World Series 2010: The 10-Day Funeral
Top Ten Memories from 2010 College World Series
Rosenblatt Neighborhood Ready For Final College World Series

Paul Fiarkoski grew up in the South Omaha neighborhood west of Rosenblatt Stadium. He has been chronicling Rosenblatt Stadium’s final year via blogs here and on Facebook and Twitter. (Cover photo by Mike Machian.)

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