Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Blowing up the Civic to Save the College World Series

Today's Omaha World-Herald reports that Omaha's stadium comittee is now looking at the Civic Auditorium site for building a new stadium to replace the obsolete Rosenblatt Stadium.

My first choice still is the parking lot north of the Qwest Center Omaha. Plenty of parking already exists, and the Qwest Center facilities could be utilized for some of the amenities. It has everything with one sticking point: the current managers of the city-owned Qwest Center don't want to give up control of the parking lot.

So now two more locations have popped up, the Civic and a parking lot northwest of the Qwest Center. I'm less in favor of the northwest parking lot option as it eliminates some of the aesthetics of the original lot; it could work however.

The Civic is an intriguing idea, as it has become functionally obsolete as well. It's still in fine shape physically, but without any tenants and any modern amenities, it's future looks bleak. Some people continue to push for UNO to move hockey and now basketball to the Civic, but that too is a money losing proposition long-term for both sides. So why not replace one obsolete facility with a needed facility?

The Civic does have some questions: is it too close to the interstate for an event like the College World Series? Will the NCAA accept putting some of their fan-frenzy events underneath the Interstate? (Downside: aesthetics. Upsides: guaranteed cover from the summer sun and inclement weather.) Is the stadium too close to the 22 and 40 story First National buildings across the street? With that location already in a developed area, is there much incremental development benefits to this location. And in a location surrounded by office buildings, how can parking be accommodated for 30,000 baseball fans on a weekday afternoon?

It's certainly an intriguing idea, and if it were to be selected, would eliminate a lot of questions about the future direction of both the College World Series and UNO hockey.

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