Thursday, May 22, 2014

10,424 Reasons Why Sarpy County's Werner Park Isn't B1G Enough

Back when TD Ameritrade Park was bidding for the Big Ten baseball tournament, there was a perception by some that Sarpy County's Werner Park would have been a better venue.  I've long disagreed on multiple counts:  nearby amenities such as restaurants, bars, and hotels, but also more importantly, the tournament would draw better in Omaha than anywhere else.

Sure, almost nobody showed up last year in Minneapolis.  Not many people showed up in Columbus, Ohio either. But those are different markets.  Omaha likes college baseball.  More importantly, Omaha loves the Huskers.  Even old-pal AJ the Huskerh8er recognizes it, in this backhanded compliment:

This week, Tom Shatel of the Omaha World-Herald was the latest to suggest that Werner Park would be better in terms of venue earlier this week.  6400 seats, with the capability to seat up to 9,000 on the berms, would be enough in Minneapolis.  Or Columbus.

He will be the last to ever suggest that.  Day One of the Big Ten baseball tournament at TD Ameritrade Park drew 10,424 fans.  Yeah, the vast majority of those were Husker fans who only stayed for the afternoon matinee.  Doesn't change the fact that yesterday's crowd was bigger than what Werner Park is capable of accommodating.

Now the question is what the crowds will be like today, after yesterday's thrilling 7-6 victory over Ohio State.  First pitch is at 5 pm, and some people may be able to sneak out of work an hour or two early to get to the game.  Is 12,000 possible today?  I think so.

And if Nebraska wins today, they'll play one - or two - games on Saturday.  How many will show up that day?  CornNation's David McGee told me earlier this week he thought it would be over 15,000.  Maybe even 20,000.  On Monday, I thought that might be overly optimistic.

Now, I'm thinking David had a better read on this than I did.

Two years ago, Martie Cordaro tried to sell his ballpark as being "right-sized."  Well, day one made it clear that wasn't true.

Werner Park simply isn't B1G enough.

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