Ten things we’ll miss about Rosenblatt Stadium
Plenty of Americans continue to partake in Fourth of July festivities. It’s only fitting the College World Series – one of the nation’s more pure and historic sporting events – just finished.
By now, everyone is aware the CWS will move from its 13th street location three miles south of downtown Omaha to a 13th street location just north of downtown. But that realization hasn’t and probably never will come without at least some debate.
Some have memories of attending the CWS at Rosenblatt Stadium as children. Others only have recently had the opportunity to attend the glorious event as adults.
No matter your background, there are a multitude of things to have loved about the CWS being played on the hallowed grounds of what passionately is known as “The Blatt”.
As the door has closed on another campaign and the last season at Rosenblatt, we take an inside look at ten things we’ll miss most about the cathedral of college baseball.
When you’re driving east toward the Iowa border, the last exit on Interstate 80 always will be known as the exit to Rosenblatt Stadium. To your right upon exiting the freeway is a large hill. Rosenblatt tops that hill. The sight is great during the day. But at night when the stadium lights are shining bright, the sight of Rosenblatt will leave you awestruck. Unlike the old ballpark, the new downtown ballpark sits on flat ground with no special layout. It won’t be the same.
The red, yellow and blue seats
One of the first things I noticed in my first CWS experience in 1999, the red, blue and yellow seats provide fans, players and media alike with a spectacle when the stadium is nearly empty on the first practice day. You always knew you were in the midst of the big time when you walked through the tunnel behind home plate and saw the tricolor seats. The new ballpark, of course, will not carry that tradition downtown. The new park, sources say, will have blue seats. There is, of course, plenty of time for that to change. Perhaps the NCAA will make it happen. The red, blue and yellow seats were a special part of Rosenblatt.
The new downtown ballpark certainly will have many more amenities than Rosenblatt. But there was something about walking into an old ballpark that made it special. Perhaps it was the smell of the old structure and the different foods in the air. It also was the feeling that you were surrounded by memories of the old. Anyone that has been to Fenway Park or the old Yankee Stadium has felt that feeling before, too. Rosenblatt wasn’t a plush and modern stadium. Heck, the concourses after games were an adventure of their own. But Rosenblatt truly identified with the progress of college baseball. Though some areas of the stadium lacked, others flourished. Everything will flourish in the new ballpark.
From the first day I attended the CWS, I’ve always been amazed at just how many people can pack into the different rows in the main parking areas to tailgate. The number of tailgaters had dwindled over the years because of limited parking and stricter late-night rules against tailgating. But no matter what, you still saw many of the same faces in the same spots each summer. There was something about that aspect of the event at Rosenblatt that made it extra special. The City of Omaha and NCAA still haven’t figured out of the tailgating situation at the new ballpark. Each person, though, should agree that further limiting tailgating will hurt the game day atmosphere.
The bleacher creatures
Chances are good the outfield seats at the new ballpark will have the same type of feeling and atmosphere with the areas expected to be general admission. But you wonder if the atmosphere will equal that of the way it was at Rosenblatt. For instance, will the beach balls be aplenty between innings and the fans continue the childish, yet funny, chants? Those are questions that will have to be answered at the new ballpark. Additionally, I always thought it was cool to see the fans wrapped around the large hill to get into the general admission seats. Somehow, seeing folks lined up on the pavement in a huge parking lot won’t spur the same feeling of excitement.
Henry Doorly Zoo/Desert Dome
Anyone that has ever been to the CWS makes a point to head to the famous Omaha Zoo at some point during their trip. I made a point to check out the zoo a few years ago, and there’s absolutely no question it’s one of the best in the business. Though the zoo being next to the ballpark was a cool attraction, the zoo’s “Desert Dome” in right field became part of the Rosenblatt landscape during the two-week long event. Obviously, the Desert Dome will not be in view when the event moves downtown. The cool view of the Desert Dome will be missed.
The outside vendors
The status of outdoor vendors at the downtown ballpark is still unclear, but there was something special about having several vendors across 13th street at the old ballpark. Along with the plethora of clothing and hat choices at each tent, the presence of several tents also kept apparel prices at a reasonable level. That could change at the downtown ballpark if the NCAA has total control of the vendors in the immediate area. Besides the normal CWS apparel, several vendors also offered clothing outside of the CWS box. Their presence made for a cool street atmosphere.
The infield lights
Many of you might have never noticed this. Though the stadium light standards in the outfield at Rosenblatt had a modern look, the lights around the backside and down each foul line were of the old “crisscross” pattern seen in many of America’s old ballparks, including Fenway Park. The new lights at the downtown ballpark are impressive, but are of modern architecture. I always felt like I was walking into a historic ballpark when I saw the infield lights at Rosenblatt. That look and feel certainly will be missed.
I recall a story that was published in the Omaha World Herald about a neighborhood resident around Rosenblatt that paid for his children’s college tuitions with the money he raised from charging for parking in his driveway. Things like that are over with when the new ballpark is finished. The area around the new ballpark is either owned by the city or private property, i.e., large downtown buildings. There was something extra special about driving through a neighborhood to get to Rosenblatt. That feeling is gone. Starsky’s Lounge, a favorite bar of many that attended the CWS, also will be missed.
Iowa is one of the least picturesque states in the country, but from the top rows of the stadium and in the press box/suites level, you could stare for miles at the bluffs and farmlands around Council Bluffs, Iowa. This might be the least missed thing about Rosenblatt, but there was something cool about being provided a view during a five-hour marathon during the CWS. The new downtown ballpark will have a beautiful (note the sarcasm) view of the Qwest Center out to left field.