Johnny Rosenblatt Stadium

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Johnny Rosenblatt Stadium
The Blatt
Johnny Rosenblatt Stadium
Former names Omaha Municipal Stadium (1947-1964)
Location 1202 Bert Murphy Avenue, Omaha, Nebraska
Coordinates 41°13′33″N 95°55′52″W / 41.22583°N 95.93111°W / 41.22583; -95.93111Coordinates: 41°13′33″N 95°55′52″W / 41.22583°N 95.93111°W / 41.22583; -95.93111
Owner Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium
Capacity 23,145 (College World Series)
8,859 (Omaha Royals Games)
24,000 (Omaha Nighthawks) [1]
Field size Left Field - 335 feet (102 m)
Left-Center - 375 feet (114 m)
Center Field - 408 feet (124 m)
Right-Center - 375 feet (114 m)
Right Field - 335 feet (102 m)
Fence height
Left and Right Fields - 10 feet (3 m)
Center Field - 12 feet (4 m)
Surface Grass
Scoreboard Yes
Construction
Broke ground 1947
Opened 1948
Closed 2010
Demolished Started July 25, 2012
Pressbox Implosion August 22, 2012[2]
Architect Leo A Daly
General contractor Peter Kiewit Company
Tenants
Omaha Cardinals (WL / AA) (1949–1959)
Omaha Dodgers (AA) (1961–1962)
Omaha Royals (AAA / PCL) (1969–2010)
Omaha Nighthawks (UFL) (2010)
College World Series (NCAA) (1950–2010) [3]

Johnny Rosenblatt Stadium was a baseball stadium in Omaha, Nebraska, the former home to the annual NCAA Division I College World Series and the minor league Omaha Royals, now known as the Omaha Storm Chasers. Rosenblatt Stadium was the largest minor league baseball stadium in the United States (a distinction now held by Buffalo, New York's Coca-Cola Field).[4]

The final College World Series game at Rosenblatt Stadium was played on June 29, 2010; with the South Carolina Gamecocks defeating the UCLA Bruins to win the 2010 College World Series. The final game for the Royals in the stadium, and under the Royals name, was played on September 2, 2010, with the Royals defeating the Round Rock Express. The Omaha Nighthawks played their 2010 season at Rosenblatt; Creighton Prep played a football game there as well.[citation needed] Following those events, Rosenblatt was replaced by TD Ameritrade Park Omaha. Rosenblatt Stadium began demolition in late July (after being reopened during the 2012 College World Series for fans to visit again). The pressbox girders were imploded on the morning of August 22, 2012. The site is currently owned by the Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium.[2]

Professional baseball history[edit]

Omaha Municipal Stadium was built in 1947, ready to host the single-A Omaha Cardinals for the 1948 season. The St. Louis Cardinals farm team was the first professional baseball team to call Omaha its home. Over the next few years Rosenblatt hosted several different teams. In 1969, the Kansas City Royals moved their triple-A franchise here, which played at Rosenblatt through the 2010 season.

In 1964, the stadium was renamed to honor former Omaha mayor Johnny Rosenblatt, who was instrumental in bringing professional baseball as well as the College World Series to Omaha.

Omaha teams[edit]

Seasons Team League Class MLB Affiliate
1949–1954 Omaha Cardinals Western A St. Louis Cardinals
1955–1959 Omaha Cardinals Amer. Assn. AAA St. Louis Cardinals
1961–1962 Omaha Dodgers Amer. Assn. AAA Los Angeles Dodgers
1969-2010 [5] Omaha Royals Amer. Assn. - PCL AAA Kansas City Royals

Team moved into PCL in 1998 after AA folded.

Team was named "Omaha Golden Spikes" during 1998-2001.

Rosenblatt and the College World Series[edit]

From 1950 to 2010 Rosenblatt Stadium was been home to the College World Series. After the initial contract between the NCAA and the City of Omaha expired, the parties quickly agreed to renew. Currently, the NCAA and the city of Omaha have agreed to continue hosting the Men's College World Series in Omaha through the 2035 season.

Due to growth in the event, the City of Omaha devoted resources to the stadium to accommodate teams and fans. In 2001, for example, more than $7 million was spent on the stadium. One of the major additions was 10,000 new seats, bringing the total capacity to 23,145.

The record for most consecutive sellouts at Rosenblatt stands at 82 consecutive games.[citation needed] In 2002, the College World Series surpassed the 5,000,000 spectator mark in all-time attendance.

In 1999, the local event organizers, College World Series of Omaha, Inc., placed the sculpture "Road to Omaha" in front of the main entrance. Created by local artist John Lajba, the sculpture shows three players celebrating by lifting one of their teammates in the air. One of the players whose likeness was used to create the statue (far right) is the current University of Virginia head coach Brian O'Connor. O'Connor is a native of Council Bluffs, Iowa and was a CWS participant as a pitcher for Creighton in '91, as an assistant with Notre Dame in '02, and with Virginia in 2009 and 2011.[6]

With the anticipated opening of TD Ameritrade Park Omaha in 2011, the College World Series moved to this new stadium,[3] and the renamed Storm Chasers moved to Werner Park in Sarpy County.[5]

Rosenblatt and the Omaha Royals[edit]

Although the stadium's size was not an issue for the College World Series, expansions over the years made it far too large for a Triple-A team. In its final configuration, it had over 5,000 more seats than the next-largest stadium, Buffalo's Coca-Cola Field. The Royals struggled for years to fill it for regular season games. In the stadium's final years, capacity was reduced to 8,500 for Royals games. During the CWS, the Royals were forced to go on an extended road trip.

There had been discussion since 2003 of building a separate venue for the Royals, which also could have been shared by Creighton University and/or the University of Nebraska at Omaha. Royals president and part owner Alan Stein stated he would be willing to invest $10 million into a new 7,500 seat stadium for the Royals. Although initial plans called for TD Ameritrade Park to be reduced to 12,000 seats for Royals games, Stein said that would not be a viable alternative, presumably because the Royals would have still had to go on an extended road trip in June during the CWS. The Royals believed that a smaller, more intimate stadium would double annual attendance up to 500,000 - 600,000. According to Stein, that increase would have been unlikely at either Rosenblatt or a large downtown stadium.

The Royals had named multiple other cities with whom they have discussed stadium relocation, but decided to stay in greater Omaha with the construction of Werner Park in Sarpy County.

Efforts to save Rosenblatt Stadium[edit]

In May 2007 a grassroots organization called "Save Rosenblatt" tried to save the stadium for the use by College World Series. The group aired a TV commercial with actor Kevin Costner and proposed architectural plans for a renovation of Rosenblatt. The group also created an informational website. The group was composed primarily of governmental spending critics and homeowners near Rosenblatt Stadium who stood to lose money from the loss of proximity of the College World Series.

The members of "Save Rosenblatt" believed that Rosenblatt Stadium should be retained and enhanced, saying that the CWS and the City of Omaha would have been better served by a remodeled Rosenblatt and modified area around the stadium. However, on February 27, 2008, after nearly five months of deliberation, Omaha Mayor Mike Fahey and the stadium committee made a public recommendation for a new downtown stadium. This proposal included plans for the demolition of Rosenblatt Stadium. Many citizens of South Omaha responded with disappointment and frustration over the lack of public participation in the project planning and a lack of a public vote on a multimillion dollar project. Other concerns focused on the financing and certainty of the construction costs of the new stadium.[citation needed]

In response, fans have begun a movement to build an online museum of Rosenblatt Stadium and have formed a special interest group on the social networking site Facebook.

New agreement[edit]

On April 30, 2009, the city and the NCAA agreed on a memorandum of understanding, outlining a preliminary agreement to keep the World Series in Omaha for another 25 years through 2035. The agreement stipulated that the series be moved to the new downtown stadium by 2011.[7]

Omaha Nighthawks[edit]

On April 15, 2010, it was announced that Rosenblatt Stadium would be home to the Omaha Nighthawks in the United Football League for its inaugural 2010 season. For 2011 and beyond, the Nighthawks will move into the new TD Ameritrade Park.

The Nighthawks played four games at Rosenblatt Stadium during the 2010 UFL season, selling out all four, the only UFL team to do so. The league was so impressed by the attendance that they awarded the 2010 UFL Championship Game to Rosenblatt, which was the last event ever held there.

Future use[edit]

Plans call for the site of Rosenblatt Stadium to be sold to pay off the debt remaining from the stadium's multi-million dollar renovations. The adjacent Henry Doorly Zoo is set to take control of the land and demolish Rosenblatt once the new downtown stadium is completed.[8] While the stadium land itself will only be used for parking, it will be part of an overall expansion of the zoo that will include a new visitor's center and a new Arctic exhibit on what is now the Zoo's primary parking area east of 10th Street. A tribute to Rosenblatt, sized to Little League standards, will be created within the new parking space created by the stadium's demolition.[9] On March 8, 2011, the Omaha City Council formally approved the sale of Rosenblatt to the Zoo for $12 million. Demolition of Rosenblatt began in July 2012; the city of Omaha will use the money gained from Rosenblatt's sale, to pay off debts which had been incurred in the stadium's renovations over the years.[10][11]

Atmosphere[edit]

Johnny Rosenblatt Stadium was one of the few stadiums to still use live music instead of prerecorded music.[12] Lambert Bartak, an organist for the Royals, is one of only three organists ever to be ejected during a game, the others being Wilbur Snapp and Derek Dye.[13]

The playing field in Rosenblatt Stadium had the ability to stay playable with even an 8.5 inch per hour rainfall.[14]

Note on dimensions[edit]

Before remodeling and reconfiguration for the 2002 season, the foul lines were 343 (later 335) and the power alleys were 370 (later 375). Centerfield was 420 (later 408).

Gallery[edit]

See also[edit]

  • TD Ameritrade Park Omaha - ballpark that replaced Rosenblatt Stadium as home of the College World Series and the Nighthawks in 2011
  • Werner Park - ballpark that replaced Rosenblatt Stadium as home of the Royals in 2011

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Omaha Nighthawks Announce First-Ever Sellout in United Football League History for Home Opener". UFL. 2010-09-21. Retrieved 2010-09-21. 
  2. ^ a b "Rosenblatt comes down; fans mourn stadium's loss". Omaha World Herald. Retrieved 23 August 2012. 
  3. ^ a b "Welcome to TD Ameritrade Park". Omaha World Herald. 2009-06-09. Retrieved 2009-06-09. 
  4. ^ "Coca-Cola Field". BaseballPilgrimages.com. Archived from the original on 2012-02-17. Retrieved 18 February 2012. 
  5. ^ a b "ROYALS' NEW BALLPARK: Sarpy's funding plan is complex". Omaha World Herald. 2009-06-02. Retrieved 2009-06-02. 
  6. ^ http://www.ketv.com/sports/19719830/detail.html
  7. ^ NCAA.com
  8. ^ Omaha.com Metro/Region Section
  9. ^ Bicak, Carol (June 11, 2010). "Zoo to memorialize Rosenblatt". Omaha World-Herald. Retrieved July 22, 2010. 
  10. ^ O'Brien, Maggie (March 8, 2011). "Council OKs Rosenblatt sale". Omaha World-Herald. Retrieved March 16, 2011. 
  11. ^ Ruggles, Rick (November 26, 2011). "Rosenblatt seats cross the river". Omaha World-Herald. Retrieved November 26, 2011. 
  12. ^ Bohls, Kirk (2004-06-22). "This player at CWS knows all the scores". Cox News Service. Retrieved 2006-06-19. 
  13. ^ Associated Press (1988-05-29). "Organist Hits Wrong Note". The New York Times. Retrieved 2006-06-19. 
  14. ^ "NCAA Men's College World Series 2008". CWS Omaha, Inc. 2008-06-24. Retrieved 2008-06-24. 

External links[edit]