It’s been nearly one year since the last baseball game was played at Omaha’s legendary Rosenblatt Stadium, but already it’s hard to tell that this sleepy little enclave in South Omaha once was the host of college baseball’s “greatest show on dirt.”
Neighbors have adjusted. Some like the peace and quiet. Others long for the circus atmosphere.
Joe Belek lives directly across 13th Street from Rosenblatt’s third baseline stands. “It is weird looking at an empty Rosenblatt, knowing the series is somewhere else,” Belek said. “I miss hanging with my friends right across the street.”.
That doesn’t keep Belek from participating in the new College World Series experience. He was at the first CWS game at the new ballpark. ”I enjoy downtown and the new park is only 5-10 minutes away from Rosenblatt.,” he said. “It is a great facility, very fan accomodating.”
Cheiree Newell and her family live on 10th Street, about a quarter-mile north of the centerfield concession stand of Rosenblatt. “The neighborhood is so quiet that we actually forgot about College World Series starting,” Newell said. ”Last year we were excited. The whole family picked their favorite team and we prepared for the ‘people-watching’ we would do from our front porch. This year, only my husband knows all of the teams.
“We used to look forward to talking to the people who would park in our yard to see where they were from and what team they were supporting. Even if we weren’t going to a game, we looked forward to walking down and checking out all the tents.”
The customarily long, late June lines at the Zesto ice cream and burger shack made famous by the College World Series are virtually non-existent this year. However, business at the 13th Street Zesto location remains pretty good according to store manager Teresa Simonetti. “We’re seeing a lot of locals and zoo visitors, plus the Series fans that are driving here from downtown,” Simonetti said.
Even without the College World Series crowds, business is brisk enough that Simonetti keeps seven regular employees on the payroll (just like in 2010). But this year she only needs seven extra summer-time employees, compared with 15 in 2010.
Thursday morning’s auction of Rosenblatt signs, dugout benches and other memoirs drew a small crowd in person and online. A much bigger turnout is expected when the stadium seats go on sale.
The change in venue hasn’t meant a change in plans for Starsky’s Bar and Grill across 13th Street from Zesto. They’re offering free parking and a shuttle for CWS fans, with bands scheduled and drinks specials offered throughout the series.
PLUG TIME for a CB360 sponsor: Remember the good folks with The Dugout who operated the huge merchandise tent caddy-corner from Zesto? They now have an awesomely cool permanent store downtown directly across the street from the Road to Omaha statue. You will find all the hats, tee-shirts and other gear to help you support your favorite CWS team. (While supporting the Dugout, you’re also supporting the free content you get on this site.)
Neighbors here expect to see plenty of activity at Rosenblatt this year with demolition teams coming and going, as well as people parking to visit the adjacent zoo. Other than that, things remain pretty quiet.
One thing is for sure: absent of baseball, Omaha’s Rosenblatt Stadium neighborhood has changed forever.