Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Tuesday Night Beer: Lancers Want No Part of BFE

The situation in BFE Sarpy County just keeps getting more difficult to figure out. It's been long reported that the plans for the highway 370 site included an ice rink, but Saturday, the World-Herald reported that the owner of the Des Moines USHL team is planning to build a 4500 seat arena for skating and hockey there.

Which was rather concerning to the Omaha Lancers since they have no plans to play outside of Omaha. The Lancers learned the hard way the risks of moving away from the population base, and moved back.
“There is a strong sense of excitement in Omaha that we are coming back home. I have no clue what their plans are (in Sarpy County). I want people to know that the Lancers are going to be in Omaha.”
So now not only do we have the boondoggle of the Sarpy County stadium...but also a 4500 seat arena with no tenant. Not to suggest that there isn't a need for ice in Sarpy County, there is. There just isn't a need for a 4500 seat arena, what with UNO planning an arena and Creighton opening their own this fall.

Speaking of UNO's arena, Dean Blais talked this weekend about growing UNO's attendance average five digits...perhaps as high as 14,000 fans. Sounds unrealistic? Ten years ago, if you would have told me that Creighton would be averaging 16,000 fans for basketball, I would have been rolling on the floor laughing at the suggestion. But winning and making a few NCAA tournament appearances turned a program that struggled to sell out the Civic Auditorium (unless the Huskers were the opponent) into one of the top schools in college basketbal in terms of attendance. And winning and NCAA berths is the expectation Blais is bringing to UNO.

If UNO does manage to get attendance up to that level, it'll finally bury forever the idea of UNO hockey playing at the Civic ever again. On the other hand, the cost of a UNO campus arena just went up since now the minimum size just jumped to five figures.

Blais also sounds the warning alert for the out of control monster called recruiting that is killing college athletics:
"But no, the big changes are the rules and regulations, and the NCAA with (more and more) early commitments. I think it really has to change. I don't think it's good and healthy for schools to be promising scholarships, and a kid doesn't turn out. Usually a verbal commitment is verbal -- in ninth grade, you don't know what that kid is going to be in four years. As coaches, we're created a monster and we have to change it. I don't have all the answers, but I don't think it's good, for the kid or the colleges.
"But the early commitments, I said this five years ago -- it's gotten too young. It's not healthy. If you don't do it, you fall behind. If you do do it, someone's going to get in trouble sooner or later."
Husker offensive coordinator Shawn Watson might be a victim of an out-of-control recruitnik who's impersonating him in e-mails to high school coaches. I'd be curious to find out if this simply a Husker fan who's either (a) too curious or (b) thinking that he's actually helping... or whether he's trying to discredit Watson on the recruiting trail.

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