TD Ameritrade Park hosted its first College World Series after Rosenblatt Stadium hosted it for the last 61 seasons over the last two weeks with the South Carolina Gamecocks winning the 2011 College World Series title over Florida. Overall, I came away pretty impressed by the overall atmosphere of the new digs. Here are some thoughts on the new ballpark.
There’s really not much to complain about the stadium, but my main beef is the actual visibility from the concourse level, particularly in the outfield. Walking around the concourse and park during the Texas/Florida 6 PM matchup, I noticed a few things I didn’t like about the park. First of all, looking in from the outfield concourses all around the outfield was near impossible for a good half hour due to the sunset. At Rosenblatt, this was less of a problem do to the concourse being closer to the actual fence. Also with the concourse, it’s pretty hard to see over the seats on the corners, which could have been easily avoidable.
As far as the atmosphere outside the park is concerned, it’s a real give and take. The tailgate scene that’s synonymous with the parking lot is definitely tempered down quite a bit. Last year, you didn’t have to go very far to take a beer bong. This year, it’s got a bit more corporate feel as you’re able to drink at sectioned off beer tents around the stadium, but 16 oz. of domestics are $5 rather than a friendly LSU fan who’s out here just to party giving you one from their cooler. There’s more bars around the stadium that you can get your fix at, but I know that a complaint for years to come will be the change in the tailgating atmosphere.
The good news is Zesto’s is still there, practically in a shack in the parking lot but still good and fast as ever. Dugout Hats has a pretty sweet location right across the street from the ballpark in an actual structure, not a tent anymore. I was able to pick up a Size 8 blue and white UCONN hat, and it actually fit (Yes, I wear a Size 8). If you’re here for a specific team in the field, they have you covered, men and women, on practically any apparel you need, and have hats from Lehigh to North Carolina and anything inbetween.
There’s been quite a few people making a big deal about it not being in the old neighborhood. While I agree the series has more of a corporate feel to it, this is still Omaha, and at it’s core, about what happens on the field. All the games have had the normal components. North Carolina used a bunch of pitchers in Game 1 even though the game was getting out of hand just to get players used to Omaha. We’ve saw teams overcoming huge errors, and have even had a walkoff in the first couple days, which is became synonymous with South Carolina as they won their second straight national title.
The changes to seating are remarkable, other than having to deal with looking directly into the sun in the outfield, I don’t get the feeling that there’s an uncomfortable seat in the house. I do miss the blue, yellow and red seating colors that gave Rosenblatt some of its flair, but at the same time, it’s good to keep that feature distinct with that stadium. The concourses are wide and not underneath the stadium like they used to be, so when you exit the stadium the smell of urinals, B.O., and hot dog water has decreased about 99%. If you’re lucky enough to sit behind home plate, you’ll be in the shade most of the time or have easy access to it without having to miss too much gameplay. The friendliness of the park is still there; it’s never been hard to start up a conversation with the people around you, and it wasn’t hard this year either. Most people I’ve talked to haven’t strayed too far from the middle; people either like the new stadium but miss Rosenblatt, or have objections to the new stadium but still have good things to say about it.
If you attended the 2011 CWS, feel free to leave your comments below on your experience.