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TD Ameritrade Park: Better than Rosenblatt

by: TRIBUNE PHOTO: KERRY EGGERS - TD Ameritrade Park gives the College World Series a modern home.OMAHA, Neb. -- TD Ameritrade Park is not Rosenblatt Stadium.

To some people, that's a good thing. To others, not so much.

I've always been one who appreciated nostalgic baseball parks. Wrigley Park comes to mind.

But then you watch a game at a "retro" or "throwback" park such as Camden Yards of Safeco Field, with all the state-of-the-art amenities, and facilities such as Fenway Park just seem old.

Rosenblatt was the home of the College World Series from 1950-2010, a slice of baseball Americana located adjacent to the Doorly Zoo and Aquarium.

The CWS outgrew Rosenblatt, though, and TD Ameritrade Park opened in 2011, bringing the college game's premier event into the 21st century.

Interesting thing is, Rosenblatt and TD Ameritrade are roughly the same capacity -- 24,000, though the latter was built expandable to 35,000. TD Ameritrade's dimensions -- 335 feet down the foul lines, 408 to straightaway center field -- are close to that of Rosenblatt's. Nothing much else is similar.

TD Ameritrade (an online stock brokerage, by the way) Park, constructed at a cost of $131 million, has most of the bells and whistles you'll see at big-league parks, including a 54-by-34-foot Jumbotron and 30 luxury suites. If Rosenblatt had suites, they weren't luxurious, I'm pretty sure.

There's no comparison between the former CWS home and its predecessor in terms of space in the entrance, concession and bathroom areas. Congestion at the old barn was stifling. Not so at TD Ameritrade.

There's plenty of room all the way around the concourse, which rings the park and features a variety of food and drink offerings. Nothing austentacious, but plenty good for the average baseball fan.

I walked the park prior to Oregon State's CWS opener against Mississippi State and solicited opinions from baseball fans milling around the concourse.

First up is Gary Johnson, 52, a Philomath resident who falls into the bound-and-determined category in terms of making it to Saturday's game. Johnson, whose job has taken him to Minneapolis, was going to make the 5 1/2-hour drive from there to Omaha Saturday morning. He left his Minneapolis apartment at 2:15 a.m. in a 2012 Toyota Camry he had bought a month earlier for his wife, who had not yet even seen it.

"Here comes a car coming at me from behind going 90 miles per hour, a driver asleep and drunk," Johnson says. "Rams into the back of my car, sends me into a NASCAR fishtail, basically KOs the car permanently."

Shaken and bruised but not hurt, Johnson called Hertz, caught a taxi to the airport, picked up a rental car and got to TD Ameritrade with two hours to spare.

"I love any baseball park, but this is a great park," says Johnson, who watched games at Rosenblatt, though not CWS games. "Every seat is a good seat here. It's better than Rosenblatt."

Buddy Warnock is wearing orange, but it's Clemson orange.

"I like watching the Beavers, though," says Warnock, 58, a Belton, S.C., resident who visited Corvallis on vacation more than 15 years ago. "Stopped by the stadium -- it was Parker Stadium then. Nice country. Great baseball program."

Warnock attended CWS games in 2010, the final year of Rosenblatt, and has returned to Omaha for all three series held at TD Ameritrade.

"This stadium is far better than Rosenblatt," Warnock says. "It doesn't have as much charm, but it doesn't have the crowded restrooms and concourses, and the concessions are better."

Rick Ecklund, 59, of Genoa City, Wisc., is in the stands wearing a Beaver baseball cap, showing support for catcher Jake Rodriguez. Ecklund was Rodriguez's Little League coach before the Rodriguez family moved to Elk Grove, Calif., when Jake was 7.

"This is fantastic," Ecklund says. "I like it a lot. The seating, the field ... it's just wonderful. It's the real deal. Wow. Very nice."

Yamhill's Dennis Conway, 55, who attended the CWS when the Beavers last won in 2007, begs to differ.

"I liked Rosenblatt better," Conway says. "It was an old stadium and seemed to have more charm. This is beautiful, but Rosenblatt was cool because of its age and history. And (TD Ameritrade) is located in downtown, so it's not easy to get in and out of here."

I liked the atmosphere, the ambience at Rosenblatt, which incidentally, has been razed to make way for parking for the zoo. But TD Ameritrade, contracted with the CWS through 2035, has its advantages. I'll take modern conveniences over nostalgia any day.

Now if the new place could do something about that humidity …

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Twitter: @kerryeggers