CSTV’s main stitch-head Eric Sorenson was forced to cover the NCAA basketball tourney, taking in some games at the Qwest in Omaha. When he wasn’t watching basketball, he snuck down to Lincoln for a couple games at Haymarket Park during the Arkansas series.
As he has this dream job that involves sitting around watching college baseball at different parks throughout the nation while getting his feet massaged by co-eds (it’s part of his expense account, really it is, he told me so, I wouldn’t make that up, would I?), I asked him if he’d be kind enough to give us a review of our own beloved Haymarket Park as it compares to other venues.
We thank Eric for his kind review and breaking our streak of going nearly two years without a "Sword of Damocles" reference.
- Your first impression of Haymarket Park?
First class joint. No doubt about it. I've been to a lot of college baseball stadiums in my day and this is easily one of my favorites. I haven't been to Arkansas' stadium on a game day, but Haymarket's layout and look is almost exactly like' Baum Stadium, and that place was rated the No. 1 on-campus stadium according to Baseball America a few years ago.
I even got to sit in one of those fancy-smancy suites for a few innings, and believe me, no amenities were left on the drawing board.
Only downfall was probably the big nasty support beam that blocked my view from the press area of the press box. But that's nit-picking.
- How does it compare to other college parks around the nation?
Again, incredibly well. I was there to see a conference game against Oklahoma and a mid-week game against Arkansas and both times, despite mid-40s temps, it was a great crowd out to watch the game. I don't think you'd get that kind of support from a mid-40s day in Baton Rouge or Tempe or even, dare I say, Austin. (though mid-40s temps are rare in those locales)
Besides Pepperdine and BYU, I can't imagine Nebraska's Haymarket is far behind those two on my list of college faves. I'd like to see this place rockin' during a post-season game. I'm sure it's a very football-like crowd for baseball... if that makes sense.
- Turn-ons (as it relates to baseball parks, that is)?
Not a bad seat in the house. Love, love, love the pine trees in center field that act as the batter's eye out there. Also love the very underrated fact of having grass berms down each foul line. I saw that a few years ago Arkansas put seats in where the grass berms used to be, and I thought that was a bad faux pas. The kids still need somewhere to maniacally chase foul balls and get stains on their pants. That's an underrated part of the game experience to me.
Oh yeah, and loved the scoreboard/videoboard too. Nice, first class touch.
- Turn-offs ?
You mean besides that horrible dot race you see at every park nowadays? I thought the fact that they left a "wind tunnel" effect behind home plate was a little short-sighted. There's a big "hole" in the outer brick facade directly behind home plate that would allow a strong wind coming from behind home plate to funnel through and blow straight out to center field. Don't know if that was by design, but I'm sure the pitchers aren't too happy about it. Plus, we all know how windy land-locked Lincoln, Nebraska can be.
-Are you one of these guys who has to have a hot dog at every park they go to so they can write a book on it later? (If you are, how did the concessions at Nebraska compare to what you’ve had around the nation?)
Naw, not a big hot dog guy... too many pig "parts" if you know what I mean. While I was in that rich-guy's suite, I had a hamburger with all the trimmings, which was nice. But I didn't get to have any of the concessions, unfortunately.
Wait... did they have a Runza stand there? Damn.
- Save Rosenblatt or Build a new stadium for the CWS? (no doubt you heard an earful in Omaha).
Oh, I've always been a Save Rosenblatt guy.
But this is a two part answer:
I grew up skinning my knees at that old stadium, so I'm biased. Plus, I think people have become wusses about baseball stadiums lately. Sorry Rosenblatt doesn't have ass-massagers in its seats or a swimming pool for rich people to lounge in out beyond right field. Boo-hoo, people. I'm playing a sad, slow song on the violin for you.
Okay, sure I'd change a lot of things about Rosenblatt, like make wider walkways, more bathrooms and a faster press elevator.
BUT - and this is a big but here - that being said... as an Omaha native, my main objective is keeping the College World Series in Omaha. I don't care if they have to do it inside a grain elevator, for God's sake don't lose the CWS to Orlando, Florida's Mickey Mouse-infested sweat box. Or to We've-stolen-the-Colts-we'll-steal-the-CWS-too Indianapolis.
So, if the NCAA is holding the new stadium issue for the CWS over our heads like the Sword of Damocles, then just go ahead and build the new stadium and stop all the bitchin'. Gah! (Why do I suddenly feel so dirty for saying that?)
Really, you know Rosenblatt is going to have to meet the wrecking ball sometime, so it can't last forever, though most of us would like it to.
Oh, and I'm sure I'm going to be excommunicated from the Cornhusker family for this one, but a new downtown stadium would be a nice new facility for Creighton to play in. I say good riddance to that damned CU Sports Complex. What a piece of junk that joint is. Again, I'm a fan of both Creighton AND Nebraska... so sue me.
- How many "Children of the Corn" references do you think we can get away with before God decides to blow the world away (or just Nebraska) and start over?
I loved the Children of the Corn movie, so I can't hear that phrase enough. Then again, I don't live in Omaha any longer, so maybe people there are getting tired of hearing the phrase.