touring TD Ameritrade Park to Facebook on Friday, including an image proclaiming the stadium as the "Home of the Omaha Nighthawks". That's all well and good, but there's still no word about ticket sales or whether MECA has agreed to a deal with the Nighthawks. We haven't heard about the start of training camp or even whether any players are signed, yet the first game is less than two weeks away. (It's a road game; the first home game is still four weeks away, so that's not quite as imminent.) I'll keep saying it...the UFL is not convincing anybody this is a viable league with how the 2012 season is rolling out.
Speaking of MECA and tickets, supposedly tickets to the outdoor hockey doubleheader in February are supposed to go on sale on October 1st. And information about those tickets is non-existent as well, other than the prices start at $30. It would be nice to have some heads up as to how this is going to work. The silence is starting to become deafening in this regard; you'd like to start building some buzz about the outdoor game between the UNO Mavericks and North Dakota not-called-the-Sioux-per-NCAA-decree. This could be a great event, but not if it's run haphazardly. And this one appears to be on it's way towards being an afterthought. The Omaha Sports Commission seems to have put all of their promotional effort into next year's Senior US Open at the Omaha Country Club. That's all well and good; that is a bigger event. But that's not until next July; the outdoor hockey game is less than five months away.
UNO did announce this week that five Maverick hockey games will be televised on the NBC Sports Network (formerly Versus), starting with the Icebreaker tournament in Kansas City. If UNO plays in the championship game of the Icebraker, that game will also be nationally televised. Home games against Colorado College (Friday, January 4th at 6:30 pm), North Dakota (Friday, February 8th at 6:30 pm), and Wisconsin (Friday, March 1st at 6:30 pm) will also be broadcast. A road game at Denver on Friday, January 11th will be televised at 9 pm. That's big news to have such national coverage, but I wish more road games were on the schedule.
UNO also announced that their hockey broadcasts were moving from 96.1 FM to 1180 AM this year. That's a huge step backward for UNO; 96.1 FM's signal covers a 75 mile plus radius around the Omaha area. 1180's AM signal barely reaches the western city limits of Omaha. This change might have been forced by 96.1's format change from 80's rock to Top 40 hits earlier this morning, but it's still a bad move. Heck, moving the games back to 1290 AM would have been better.
Another concern about the broadcasts is the status of Terry Leahy as color commentator. Earlier this spring, Leahy was laid off by NRG, the owners of 1180 as well as KOIL 1290 AM and 1620 the Zone. Since then, Leahy has found part-time work with competitor KFAB - 1110 AM; would NRG allow Leahy back on their airwaves. Would KFAB allow Leahy to take the time off to travel on road games? The loss of Leahy on the UNO hockey broadcasts would be an even bigger loss than the downgrading of the station.
The only upside to the 1180 deal is the potential of bringing 1620's Gary Sharp on-board as the voice of UNO hockey. Dave Ahlers, while he has a background as professional hockey broadcaster, just isn't very good at play-by-play. If UNO can manage to put a team of Sharp and Leahy together, that would be the best way to deal with a bad station arrangement.