One reason for building Rosenblatt Stadium back in the 1940s was so that it could be the home for an MLB franchise’s Triple-A team. With the help of former Omaha Mayor, Johnny Rosenblatt, construction began in 1947, and Rosenblatt stadium opened in 1948. Over the next 62 years, the stadium hosted a number of prestigious events. Rosenblatt was most known for hosting the College World Series (CWS) every summer. However, it was also home to the Kansas City Royals AAA minor baseball league team, the Omaha Royals (Omaha Storm Chasers), as well as a few other minor league teams. The stadium operated as a multi-use field and was also used by the National Football League for developmental football league games.
Remembering Omaha’s Rosenblatt Stadium
History of Rosenblatt
The stadium changed name three times before becoming Rosenblatt Stadium, fondly referred to as the “Blatt.” The first ball was pitched before the stadium was fully completed. In 1955, the St Louis Cardinals became the then Municipal Stadium minor league MLB franchise team. The Dodgers replaced the Cardinals in 1959. The stadium was finally named Rosenblatt Stadium in 1969 in honor of co-founder and former Omaha mayor, Johnny Rosenblatt.
The CWS moved to Rosenblatt Stadium in 1950. Over the years, Rosenblatt Stadium visitors saw many baseball games just steps from the world-famous Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium. It didn’t seem to matter to the fans which of the eight teams were playing. For years, the city of Omaha and fans across the nation would come to enjoy any and all games at Rosenblatt. Fans would even stand in line for hours to get the best general admission outfield seats. The tradition of waiting in line for outfield seating has even carried over to the new stadium, TD Ameritrade Park, in downtown Omaha, NE.
In addition to college baseball, minor league players also graced the stadium. Rosenblatt was home to the Omaha Royals from 1969 until the stadium closed in 2010. Spectators saw many Major League Hall of Fame players, Richie Ashburn among them, play at Rosenblatt, leaving behind a host of memories.
The Chicago Bears of 1950 defeated the New York Yankees in a preseason game at Rosenblatt Stadium. In 1951, San Francisco played an exhibition game against the Chicago Cardinals. In 1962, the exhibition series returned as a charity bowl. The Charity Pro Bowl raised nearly $70,000 for the Children’s Hospital over the years.
High school football teams across the state of Nebraska also played at Rosenblatt Stadium. Future Heisman Trophy winner Johnny “The Jet” Rodgers played twice at the stadium, before going on to star for the University of Nebraska for three years. The Omaha Nighthawks of the United Football League also played at Rosenblatt Stadium until 2010.
Over the years, Rosenblatt saw renovations including a new press box, a modified system for lighting, and new bleachers. In 1987, a campaign was conducted to upgrade the stadium resulting in the extension of the 1st base stand and paving of the south parking lot.
During the course of the next 20 years, restrooms underwent renovations, a new scoreboard was installed, more concession stands opened, clubhouse seats were glassed-in, and a new sound system and video screens were introduced.
In celebration of hosting the CWS for 50 years, a sculpture by John Lajba was erected in front of the gates. Called “The Road to Omaha,” the sculpture depicts four grinning players at home plate, a fitting tribute to the spirit of the game of baseball.
Additional Reading: Men’s College World Series (CWS) History
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