Johnny Rosenblatt Stadium is 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.

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. Now that both series have been concluded, the Omaha Nighthawks will play their 2010 season at Rosenblatt; Creighton Prep plans to play a football game there as well. Following those, Rosenblatt will be replaced by TD Ameritrade Park Omaha.

Professional baseball history[edit | edit source]

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 | edit source]

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 [1] 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 1999-2001.

Rosenblatt and the College World Series[edit | edit source]

Since 1950, Rosenblatt Stadium has 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 recent growth in the sports, the City of Omaha has 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 an Omaha native 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.[2]

With the anticipated opening of TD Ameritrade Park Omaha in 2011, the College World Series will be moving to this new stadium[3], and the renamed Storm Chasers will move to a new stadium in Sarpy County[1].

Rosenblatt and the Omaha Royals[edit | edit source]

Although the stadium's size is not an issue for the World Series, the high capacity leaves the Royals struggling to fill it for its regular season games. There had been discussion since 2003 of building a separate venue for the Omaha Royals, which also could have been shared by Creighton University and/or the University of Nebraska at Omaha. Alan Stein, the President and part owner of the Omaha Royals had stated he would be willing to invest $10 million into a new 7,500 seat stadium for the Royals. He said a 30,000 seat CWS stadium downtown with removable seats down to 12,000 would not be a viable alternative. 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 their new ballpark.

Efforts to save Rosenblatt Stadium[edit | edit source]

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 | edit source]

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.[4] A formal contract must still be negotiated and the Omaha City Council must sign off on all parts of the proposal, but neither procedural step is expected to impede construction of the new stadium.

Omaha Nighthawks[edit | edit source]

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

The Nighthawks played four games Rosenblatt stadium during the 2010 UFL season, selling out all four. 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 | edit source]

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.[5] 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. [6]

Atmosphere[edit | edit source]

Johnny Rosenblatt Stadium was one of the few stadiums to still use live music instead of prerecorded music.[7] Lambert Bartak, an organist for the Royals, is one of only two organists ever to be ejected during a game, the other being Wilbur Snapp.[8]

The playing field in Rosenblatt Stadium had the ability to stay playable with even an 8.5 inch per hour rainfall.[9]

Note on dimensions[edit | edit source]

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

Gallery[edit | edit source]

See also[edit | edit source]

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

References[edit | edit source]

External links[edit | edit source]

Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.