Monday, May 19, 2014

How Many Husker Fans Will Attend the Big Ten Baseball Tournament?

The Big Ten baseball tournament begins Wednesday in Omaha, starting at 9 am.  The Huskers play Ohio State at 1 pm that day.  Somewhat surprised by the spaced out scheduling, with games starting so early and going so late.  The last game of the day probably won't finish until about midnight.

It'll be interesting to see how many Husker fans will be in attendance.  A few weeks ago, they announced that over 4,000 all-session passes had been sold, and earlier tonight, a quick scan of Ticketmaster indicated that most of the seats between the dugouts have been sold.  I didn't count the numbers, but I suspect that's ticket sales of around six or seven thousand.

I suspect a large number will walk up on Wednesday, and if the Huskers make it to Saturday, I'd be disappointed if attendance doesn't top 10,000.  If over 11,000 fans bought tickets for a midweek game between Nebraska and Creighton, I would think at least that many would want to be at the ballpark on a weekend with a championship on the line.

And if that happens, it'll finally end one media talking point that periodically bubbles up. The cozy relationship between many sportswriters and the former Omaha Royals has resulted in periodic suggestions that Sarpy County's new ballpark would be perfect for the B1G tournament.

They have a point if you think that the same number of fans will attend in Omaha as they did last year in Minneapolis.  Of course, all you have to do is compare Nebraska baseball attendance to the rest of the Big Ten to realize that isn't going to happen.  I fully expect Omaha to set Big Ten baseball tournament attendance records this week.

File Photo - April 2013
There are other reasons why TD Ameritrade Park is better for the Big Ten Baseball tournament.  Let's start with the schedule, which features 15 hours of baseball on Wednesday and Thursday...and maybe Saturday.  Maybe some people will sit through every game, but they'll be relatively few in number.   Most people will come and go, and all of the nearby hotels, restaurants, and bars provide plenty of opportunities for fans to do something other than watch baseball.  (Heck, those fans who DO sit through 15 hours of baseball probably will appreciate having one of the 1,000 hotel rooms within a five minute walk of the ballpark.)

In Sarpy County, it's a ten minute drive to just about anything else. Last fall, Drafthouse Cinema was rumored to be building out at Pennant Place, but there hasn't been another update on that since then.  In fact, a Facebook page for the project that launched last fall has since been been deleted.  Based on the lack of updates, I suspect that not much has changed out in BFE Sarpy County in the last year.

So no, the Trailer Park in BFE wouldn't be a good location at all for the Big Ten baseball tournament.  Does the Trailer Park even have locker facilities to allow teams to get ready for a game while another is underway?

Right now, it's all speculation on my part.  I could easily be wrong.  It'll be up to Husker fans to pack TD Ameritrade Park this weekend to give us a definitive statement on which ballpark makes the most sense.

And if Nebraska fans want more Big Ten tournaments to come to Omaha (like basketball), they'll want to support baseball this week.

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