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Rosenblatt Stadium demolition
It took months of labor to build the press box at Rosenblatt Stadium.
It took but a heartbeat to bring it down Wednesday morning.
Twenty-five pounds of explosives, placed in 103 locations throughout the steel girders that made up the press box's superstructure, were ignited at 6:56 a.m. about four minutes earlier than planned.
The massive boom produced a thick cloud of smoke and dust that enveloped the structure. When the air cleared, the mostly intact press box rested on the ground below.
Wednesday's event, which drew a small crowd of onlookers to a hill northwest of the stadium, marked the latest step in the demolition of the iconic, 64-year-old stadium.
Dan Goers, managing the project for Anderson Excavating, said the demolition that began in earnest late last month is ahead of schedule.
“Give us another eight or nine weeks,'' he said, “and it's going to look pretty sick.''
“Substantially completed,'' he replied in clarification.
Anderson's crew had removed all the grandstand seating and the Plaza View Club prior to Wednesday's blast. That left the press box, built between the fall of 1995 and the spring of 1996, as the most recognizable feature remaining at the stadium.
Goers had said when work began July 25 that explosives probably would not be used in the demolition. Anderson officials reconsidered, he said, mainly because of safety concerns.
“We were concerned that once we started cutting the steel that part of the structure might roll the wrong way,'' he said. “We just felt this would be the safest way.''
Workers will now begin cutting the steel that supported the press box into pieces to be recycled. With the press box on the ground, other workers will begin demolishing the structure.
“They'll start going after it like they've done with the rest of the stadium,'' said Calvin Sisson, executive director of the Omaha Zoo Foundation.
The stadium, which has sat idle since the last event was held there in November 2010, is being razed to make room for additional parking for the Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium.
The zoo foundation will construct a commemorative park, Johnny Rosenblatt's Infield at the Zoo, on the site of what had been the stadium's infield. Parts of the stadium -- foul poles, some of the colorful seating, pavers and the arched Rosenblatt sign -- will be incorporated into the new area, which will resemble a smaller-scale baseball field.
The demolition to this point has been concentrated on the grandstand portion of the stadium in order for the zoo to move forward with the construction of a new entrance to the parking lot.
Sisson said the outfield bleachers, light towers and signage on the back side of the scoreboard would probably be the last portion of the stadium to be razed.
The zoo foundation has retained ownership of the arched “Rosenblatt Stadium” sign that rested on the top of the scoreboard visible from Interstate 80. The remainder of the signage proclaiming the stadium as the home to the College World Series was purchased by Omaha businessman at an auction in 2011.
“We don't want it to get damaged and we don't want it to disappear,'' Sisson said of the sign. “The safest place for it right now is where it stands. It's out of everyone's way.''