Located in beautiful downtown Omaha, adjacent to hotels, restaurants and coffee houses, TD Ameritrade Park provides a professional baseball atmosphere for college baseball, except minus the drunken fools you find stumbling around most MLB ballparks. The park replaces beloved Rosenblatt Stadium as the home of the College World Series, and is also the home of Creighton Blue Jays baseball.
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Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
The food here is pretty good for a ballpark. They carry Hebrew National hot dogs and that is always good. They have a boatload of outside vendors including, Cabana Coffee, Alexander's BBQ, Famous Dave's BBQ, Katie's Gyros, Mini Donuts (a favorite of mine, and fat people everywhere), Maui Wowi smoothies and the world-famous Dippin' Dots. The prices here are a little steep, but not over-the-top. The quality is good.
They serve beer at Creighton games, but not at College World Series games.
I went with the basics. Here's a rundown of what was on my menu. Hot dogs: ($4.50) A very good dog with a nice blend of spices and a warm, soft bun. Rating: A
Large popcorn: ($4.50) Barely warm, but salty with a slight hint of butter taste. Rating: A-
Nachos w/ cheese: ($4.75) Great chips that were whole, not broken and spicy cheese. Rating: B
Pepsi: 32 oz plastic cup ($4.75).
This ballpark has the amenities of a Major League park, which includes an impressive and very vivid 34' x 54'scoreboard/video board. There are 26 suites, 2400 club seats, plenty of restrooms and concession stands, spacious 30 foot wide concourses and something I like, the concession stands are set back into the wall about five feet so the lines do not stretch out in the concourse. There are 170 concession registers to keep the lines moving and 250 flat screen TVs so no one in line misses the action. Oh, and I can't forget the hard-back, dark plastic blue seats with cup-holders that are 21'inches wide, which is big enough to accommodate most fans, as well as a very impressive 36 inches of room between rows.
The concourse circles the field and almost all the concession stands are within view of the field. All four street entrances lead directly to the concourse.
The fans are a lively bunch. They cheer and make noise throughout the game. Of course, a winning team helps too.
Right on the edge of downtown Omaha, there are plenty of fun things to encounter within walking distance. Right across from the ballpark there is Goodnight's Pizza. Also close by you will find, Union Pizzeria and Sports Bar, Rick's Cafe Boatyard (known for seafood) , Barley's Tip Top (which has pub food), as well as the Old Mattress Factory Bar and Grill.
About a 10 minute walk is the Old Market area which is a big-time entertainment area featuring restaurants, bars, and shops. This includes fine steakhouses, Asian, Italian, fast food, ice cream, adult bars, student-type bars and my favorite, the Havana Garage where you can smoke a fine cigar, hear some good jazz music and have an adult beverage. I will not even attempt to name any other of the establishments because there are so many, but you will find something that you like in Omaha's Old Market.
When you walk up to TD Ameritrade Park and see Creighton fans tailgating before the game, you get an idea that these are pretty good fans. In fact, Creighton is in the top 10 in college baseball attendance and top 15 in regular season college basketball attendance. That is really something remarkable for a small private school. Omaha supports the Blue Jays and although there were only a little over 6,000 fans in this big ballpark at the noon time Thursday game I attended, how many BCS conference schools would love to have 6,000 fans at a weekday game? The answer: All of them.
Get off of the North Freeway at the Cummins Street exit and it is just a few blocks from there or take I-480 and get off when you see the ballpark and you are pretty much there. This ballpark is easy to get to.
There is plenty of parking near the ballpark. Parking runs $8 and $6 at lots within two blocks of the stadium. There also is plenty of free street parking that can be found all over the downtown area after business hours.
Creighton tickets are $10 and $6 for students 18 and under. So you can get a ticket, hot dog and a coke for under $20. If you do not like to walk four or more blocks then you will be paying to park too. So the costs are pretty good compared to most professional sporting events and a little higher than many Division I baseball games. Now if you are going to TD Ameritrade Park for the College World Series, tickets and parking will be in great demand, and more expensive.
Let me describe the field. After the game I walked out on the field and it is like a golf course fairway. Since the CWS must play out in a limited window and rainouts cannot be allowed to halt the CWS, how much rain falls isn't the most important thing to this turf. As long as the rain stops, the field is designed to be ready for baseball. Underneath the Kentucky Bluegrass is a reservoir of stones that serve as a retention basin and it can hold up to 71/2 inches of water. Underground, there is an air system with 8,000 feet of piping that can vacuum water off the field or circulate warm air to help the turf stay fresh in the spring and fall when it can get cool. So that is worth a star!
The friendliness of the fans and the people of Omaha are worth a star.
Being so close to the Old Market (and I cannot stress enough how fun the Old Market is). That is worth a star.
And finally, Creighton is 39-13 at the time I am writing this (May 2011) and Missouri Valley Conference regular season champions. In other words, they are a very good team, and fun to watch. I give them two stars for that!
Most college baseball stadiums seat 1,000 or so fans and are usually located on the edge of campus. This is located just off the campus but also right on the edge of a city downtown. It has the feel of a small MLB ballpark. You will not find another college baseball experience like this.
If you can get here for a Creighton game or CWS games, you cannot help but have a great time. Seeing a game at TD Ameritrade Park is worth a road trip.
*Photos courtesy of Creighton Sports Information Department and Eric Francis.
feels like an MLB park
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