The trial run is finished. There are no more practice swings. This is it.
Starting with Friday's opening ceremonies, Omaha's new baseball stadium, TD Ameritrade Park, will open its doors to 24,000 fans in Omaha for the College World Series.
After a few early problems that came up during Creighton baseball games there earlier this spring, the ballpark is ready for the craziness, said Roger Dixon, president of the Metropolitan Entertainment and Convention Authority, which runs the stadium.
“It's gonna be fun,” he said.
And despite some water worries around the new ballpark, Aida Amoura, a spokeswoman for Mayor Jim Suttle, said the series is expected to go as planned.
On Tuesday, MECA officials announced that standing water in Lot D east of the ballpark will make about 200 parking spots unusable for the series. Officials also have expressed concern about the possibility of water pooling along the eastern edge of the stadium if there is heavy rain.
Inside the ballpark, preparations continue in an effort to ensure a smooth series.
Dixon said he considered the Creighton games earlier this spring to be a warm-up.
Baseball fans noticed that there were no ATMs inside the ballpark. During the Creighton-Nebraska game in April, long lines bogged down the concession stands.
Dixon said that since then, two First National Bank ATM machines have been installed.
Levy Restaurants, the food service company for the ballpark, axed a few menu items that took too long to prepare and contributed to the long waits. The company even tweaked the popular chili dog so it could be prepared more quickly and no longer required a knife and fork to eat, Dixon said.
When the Qwest Center Omaha opened in 2004, some concertgoers also complained of long lines for concessions. Dixon equates the opening of a new venue to the debut of a restaurant, with last kinks being worked out.
Dixon asks that fans be patient. A new menu may mean that some people take a bit longer to decide what they want to eat or drink.
And at some games, volunteers from dance troupes, little league teams and other nonprofit organizations could be behind the concession counters. Such groups often work the stands to earn money for their causes. While the volunteer workers are trained, they may need a bit more time to ring up orders because they don't do it every day.
Dixon recommends that people arrive at the games early and that they have a plan once they get there. For example, don't go to the concession stands at peak times, such as just before the game starts.
It's pretty much the same advice officials gave fans when the series was held at Rosenblatt Stadium. But this year, record attendance is predicted for the CWS' inaugural year at TD Ameritrade.
Adding to the potential chaos this weekend is a visit by former President George W. Bush, who is expected to throw out the first pitch at Saturday's 1 p.m. opening game. MECA spokeswoman Rebecca Kleeman said the same rules will apply — in terms of what fans can bring to the stadium and other guidelines — whether Bush is there or not.
Joe Menaugh, marketing and event manager for College World Series of Omaha Inc., said CWS fans will notice a few other changes. CWS banners, signage and other decor inside and around the stadium will reflect the series' history.
“It's going to look and feel like the CWS,” he said.
Dixon said sight-line barriers could still be an concern for fans who sit in about eight seats in the upper grandstands, where hand rails partially block the view. Because of safety requirements, there wasn't much that could be done to address that problem, he said, but fans should still have a great time.
After all, he said, “this is baseball.”
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