First of all, let's provide some background. I was opposed to the idea of building a new stadium downtown originally, but I changed my position much like our city fathers did. Why the shift in opinion? Look at the NCAA's list of demands:
- Open concourses
- Nearby Practice Fields
- New Locker Rooms
- Surrounding Clean Zone to eliminate the Mardi Gras zone outside
- Nearby Hotels and Restaurants
The other demands from the NCAA also demand that the College World Series move downtown. The NCAA wants nearby hotels and restaurants. Nothing around Rosenblatt, but there are plenty downtown with even more under construction. Nearby practice fields? None there, but Creighton is planning to build baseball facilities downtown as well.
I understand the history and tradition at Rosenblatt, but the history and tradition isn't the stadium. It's a patchwork of renovations and expansions. The real history and tradition revolves around the people who attend the games, and that won't change if you move it 3 miles north.
The College World Series keeps on changing to fit the needs of the NCAA. Next year it starts a day later. They've eliminated Dingerville, and want to eliminate the Mardi Gras atmosphere outside that wasn't there in the past. Now, they want these changes, and it sounds like they've asked for more than is possible at Rosenblatt Stadium. Is that too bad? Yes...and no.
Yes, because replacing Rosenblatt is going to be expensive. Yes, because it's decisive and emotional.
But also No, because the NCAA is considering an unprecedented long-term commitment to Omaha. Mayor Fahey is pushing hard for a 20 year guarantee with automatic renewals based on meeting certain performance measurements. If successful, this will mean that the College World Series will stay in Omaha for generations to come.
It's not an automatic decision to replace Rosenblatt. We still don't know the price tag. But the benefits are oh-so-tempting... a guarantee that the CWS stays in Omaha for many, many years. Land for the Henry Doorly Zoo to expand, creating a new South Omaha anchor. A centerpiece for north downtown redevelopment.
I see the SaveRosenblatt folks are planning their own counterproposal for an expensive alternative that addresses a few things at Rosenblatt but fails to address most of the NCAA's requests. Perhaps they need to try it for themselves and fail; that's certainly their prerogative, but it doesn't change my opinion that Mayor Fahey's plan is exactly what Omaha and the College World Series needs.