Friday, October 29, 2010

Friday Night Beer: Royals Move to Southwest Sarpy County Discourages Omahans

The Omaha World-Herald announced the results of their poll of people throughout the second congressional district about whether they plan to follow the Omaha Royals to their new home southwest of Omaha along highway 370. No surprise that 23% of Omahans plan to attend fewer Royals games as a result. Overall, the poll shows that attendance is likely to stay about the same, as 58% of respondents say the new location won't affect the number of games they attend.  The percentage of people who will attend more or less is about the same and within the margin of error.

That poll comes with a minor flaw as to gauge the overall effect on attendance, as the poll was conducted only in the second congressional district, which included Gretna and other areas of southwest Sarpy County.  Those are among the locations most likely to increase their attendance, meaning that there is a good chance that attendance will increase early on.

But some of the comments indicate to me that many people are still unfamiliar with where the stadium is going; one respondent mentioned that it'll make the "west end of town happy."  Well, maybe.  I live in West Omaha, and the distance between Rosenblatt, TD Ameritrade Park, and the new BFE Park along highway 370 is about the same.  Most people don't realize just how far south (110 blocks south of Dodge) the new stadium is.  I predict that next spring, many people won't realize just how far south it is until they actually go to attend a game and realize they underestimated just where it is.

I fully expect Royals attendance to increase in 2011, but that's not the question.  It's where Royals attendance will be in 2015, once the "new ballpark smell" has worn off.

Speaking of TD Ameritrade Park, the sod is going in, and the field is finally starting to look like a baseball stadium.

Now it's time to turn our attention to tomorrow's Nebraska/Missouri game. I must say that the games of the last couple of weeks have changed my opinion on this game quite a bit.  Namely, I was disappointed in how the Huskers played, and surprised at how Missouri played Oklahoma.  I'm still leaning towards a Husker win, but I see plenty of question marks on both sides.  Which Nebraska team will show up?  The one that dispatched Washington and Kansas State easily, or the one that messed around with South Dakota State?  Which Missouri team will show up?  The one that trailed Illinois and needed a last-minute bomb to defeat San Diego State, or the one that defeated Oklahoma?

The Missouri team I saw last Saturday night was different than the one I've seen previously. Earlier this season, I saw a Missouri offense that was afraid to run the ball inside.  In last year's bowl game against Navy, ESPN commentator Bob Davie criticized Missouri for failing to take advantage of Navy's defense.  Navy cleared out the middle of the field and dared Missouri to run up the gut, and Mizzou offensive coordinator Dave Yost didn't bite, preferring to pass and run sweeps into the teeth of the Midshipmen.  Against the Sooners, the Tigers ran up the middle with success. Add in Blaine Gabbert looking poised and spreading the ball around his receivers, and you had a much different looking Missouri team on the field.

If that team shows up in Lincoln tomorrow, Nebraska could be in for all it wants and then some.  But since it was just one game, that doesn't mean it's automatic.  In fact, it's also possible that Missouri could still be celebrating their victory and mail it in tomorrow.

In other words, I wouldn't be completely surprised by a 30 point victory --- by either team.  If Nebraska doesn't tackle, doesn't run, and doesn't catch the ball (see two weeks ago against Texas), Nebraska could lose, and lose badly.  But if they do that, they could dominate.

In other words, I have no idea what to expect tomorrow.  I think Nebraska will play better than they have played the last two weeks, and Missouri won't play as well as they did last week.  I think that means a three-point Husker victory, but I'm anything but confident in that assessment.

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