Ever since talk of a new ballpark began to surface a few years back, the Rosenblatt Stadium faithful have worried that the soul might be ripped out of the College World Series experience.
Not if cousins Jay and Jeff Rybin can help it. They have been a part of the College World Series experience at 13th and Deer Park in Omaha for a couple decades and they know what people want. Now they’re aiming to keep some of the old traditions alive just north of downtown.
The Rybins have been working hard to add even more soul to the College World Series experience. To them, soul means camping, tailgating, live bands and sipping an adult beverage or two just beyond the tightly controlled “red zone” surrounding the new stadium.
Jay is working to convert his twenty acres of partially wooded land along the Missouri River into a sort of revived Dingerville. Dingerville was the name given to the small RV community that formed in the late 1980s on the Rosenblatt Stadium grounds. The City of Omaha closed the original Dingerville a few years later.
Jay’s vision for his campground, officially named Meriwether Campground for the famous explorer Meriwether Lewis of Lewis & Clark fame, is 150 sites with electrical and plumbing hookups. He also has plans a convenience store, modern restrooms, volleyball and basketball courts, bike trails and more.
Next to Jay’s campground is the Anchor Inn owned by his cousin Jeff Rybin. It’s a legendary Omaha riverfront tavern popular for poker runs, outdoor concerts, tasty grub and watermelon drinks.
“We’ve been out here on the river since the seventies. My roots are here,” Jay said proudly when I spoke to him recently. “I’m here for the long haul. My and Jeff’s fathers began investing in this area long before anybody thought of revitalizing north downtown. We’re real close to Freedom Park. The city has done a heck of a job with it. I think visitors will be really impressed!”
There are still a few spots available in the campgroung for what Jay refers to as overnight parking. Since he has yet to be granted all the permits needed to build out his dream, the 2011 season will resemble the earliest days of Dingerville: a loosely organized arrangement of self-contained RVs. No concrete slabs. No plumbing hookups. Just people who love college baseball and the great outdoors.
Campers have the choice between spots along the riverfront or “field” parking. Yep, parking in a field – well mowed of course.
FREE PARKING AND SHUTTLE
Throughout the College World Series, the Rybins are running a free shuttle for folks camping at the new Dingerville, as well as anyone else who takes advantage of the free (car) parking they’re offering on site. Tailgating is not only allowed, it’s encouraged.
The shuttle will drop off and pick up at the new Baseball Village near the stadium. Fans age twenty-one and over are invited to stick around the Anchor Inn and listen to local cover bands they have scheduled each night during the College World Series.
Meriwether Campground and Anchor Inn are located just five minutes northeast of downtown Omaha. To get there take Abbott Drive away from the ballpark, then go right on Gallup Drive. Take a quick left on Freedom Park Road and follow it to the end.
WHAT IT COSTS
- Riverfront (w/ electrical hookup): $750 for the duration of the College World Series or $75 per night
- Field (no electrial): $300 for the duration of the series or $30 per night.
- Day parking (i.e. tailgating): Free while spots last. Lot opens at 7 am on a first come, first served basis.
Jay says that people coming downtown to the new stadium from the west should bypass the Cuming Street exit and take I-480 past the airport to Gallup Drive. “Take a left, then another left and you’re there.”
WRITER’S TIP: bypass all of the downtown parking shenanigans and park for free at the Meriwether Campground – the new Dingerville – then ride their complimentary shuttle to the game. One more tip: go see the Fishheads at Anchor Inn on Sunday, June 19 for a night of raw, island-style party music you will never forget!
CB360 blogger Paul Fiarkoski grew up in Omaha’s Rosenblatt Stadium neighborhood and will be bringing a local’s perspective to our coverage of the 2011 College World Series.