One thing that I've discovered in recent months is that there are very strong opinions about replacing Rosenblatt Stadium for the College World Series. The problem is that those strong opinions are on both sides of the issue, and consider the other side to be completely out of touch with reality and not to be trusted.
Today, KOZN radio's Kevin Kugler discussed a Baseball America blog entry where NCAA head honcho Dennis Poppe told the American Baseball Coaches Association that city of Omaha officials initiated discussions of building a new ballpark to replace Rosenblatt, conflicting with Omaha World-Herald reports that the NCAA brought up the idea of a new stadium.
So who's right? Well, maybe both to some degree. The Baseball America blog doesn't contain quotes, so we don't know exactly what Poppe said to the coaches. Poppe did tell USA Today last summer that Omaha "initiated the process", but that the NCAA responded with the idea of a new stadium. So who's right about who first request a new stadium: USA Today and the Omaha World-Herald with quotes, or Baseball America as an aside?
Or maybe we should blame the Omaha Royals, who brought up the whole new stadium idea in the first place and planted the seeds in the NCAA's mind.
In any event, people are choosing who to believe. Personally, I believe Mayor Mike Fahey and the NCAA folks who are saying that it doesn't make sense to renovate Rosenblatt. However, it's clear to me that many people are not trusting the mayor. They feel the Mayor is ramrodding the stadium down the throats of Omahans to build his legacy. Is he? I'm not sure there's a lot of evidence in that corner. In fact, even David Sokol agreed that Fahey was working on remodeling Rosenblatt a year ago.
If anything, I think the politics of this situation are actually working against the Mayor, with political opponents of the Mayor trying to capitalize on the emotional tie Omahans have for Rosenblatt.
One thing is clear... Omaha's civic leaders need to come to an agreement on how important they consider the College World Series to Omaha and what the NCAA is asking for, if anything. It's inconceivable that some civic leaders are holding up a 20 year contract with the NCAA because of a parking lot (hint: when people need more parking, they build parking garages) or because of a perceived need to expand a struggling convention center (And even then, some folks at eomahaforums.com used Google Earth to show how a Rosenblatt-sized stadium could be placed on lot D and still accomodate a 50% expansion of the convention center! So even that argument doesn't hold water.).
To that extent, the NCAA might need to be the organization that comes out and makes their demands clear to all of the citizens of Omaha. Some people don't believe the Mayor, and some people don't believe his opponents. I don't think the NCAA likes coming out and giving ultimatums, but in this case, we're not going anywhere fast and the only way this appears to get resolved is if the NCAA comes out and makes their demands public. If it turns out the NCAA would be just fine with a dressed-up Rosenblatt, then the Mayor will have some serious explaining to do. On the other hand, if the NCAA did tell the city that Rosenblatt needs to be replaced, then the members of MECA should resign in disgrace for placing their own political agenda ahead of the city's needs.
Somebody is playing a very risky game of chicken with the NCAA and the citizens of Omaha.