Thursday, November 13, 2014

TD Ameritrade Park's B1G Win Offset by Loss of FXFL

This week brought both good news and some not-so-good news for TD Ameritrade Park. After the overwhelming success of the Big Ten Baseball Tournament in May, you knew it was only a matter of time before it returned to Omaha. So the Big Ten signed up to return in 2016 and 2018.  Why not 2017?  Some speculate that Jim Delany wants the Big Ten tournament at Yankee Stadium, but the real reason is that Creighton already reserved the ballpark for the 2017 Big East Tournament. Creighton has first dibs on the ballpark since it's their home field, so if Creighton wants to rent the place, it's theirs.

That's unfortunate for Omaha and TD Ameritrade Park, as the Big Ten tournament will be far bigger than the Big East tournament.  Creighton might want to pretend that they are "Omaha's Team", but that really only applies to men's basketball. (UNO's Trev Alberts would even take offense to that claim...) If you've been to any Nebraska/Creighton baseball game in Omaha, you know that Husker fans take over the ballpark like they took over Kansas State's football stadium before Bill Snyder turned things around in the Little Apple.

All hope is not lost on 2017, though.  Unless the Big Ten can work out a deal for Yankee Stadium, I suspect they'll wait until after the 2015 Big East tournament finishes in Omaha to see whether the Big East is going to re-up for 2017 or not. In the meantime, the businesses around the ballpark need to plan for a double CWS in 2015.  This year, they were not, and that left money on the table. Heck, prior to the event, most media members thought that the 6k-capacity Trailer Park in Sarpy County was a better choice.  That talk was over after the first day when over 10,000 showed up.  The Big Ten pretty much indicated that the only reason 2017 wasn't part of the deal was that those dates weren't available to the Big Ten.

So what's the no-so-good news?  The FXFL cancelled this week's season finale between the Omaha Mammoths and Brooklyn Bolts.  Supposedly the game is now being rescheduled in New York as an "FXFL Championship Game"...except there isn't a date or time for it. The players on the Omaha roster are already leaving town, meaning that it may be difficult to reassemble a team in a couple of weeks should a final game actually materialize.

But the real problem of this move by the FXFL is that cancelling a game is the type of stunt that the now-defunct UFL pulled over and over. I do believe that a league like the FXFL could work in Omaha, but only if they convinced the fans that it was viable.

Cancelling games does just the opposite.

I'd love to see the FXFL return in 2015. But they've got a lot of work to do in proving that the league is viable.  Now it's more work than it was going to be.  The first step is to establish some sort of formal relationship with the NFL; it's the one thing that will convince people that the league is viable. Schedule games on Friday nights instead of Wednesdays.  Make it enticing for fans to attend.  Heck, last week's game should have been scheduled for Saturday night, since the Huskers were on a bye.  Start ticket sales as soon as the NFL arrangement is finalized.  And promote the heck out of the fact that no matter what fans thought of the 2014 season, the NFL pursued these players.

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