BOB:  CWS stadium news and Nationals Park

Nationals Park rush to meet Opening Day deadline

Despite having just two years to get Nationals Park completed, it looks like contractors will finish the stadium in time for the Washington Nationals’ first home game. The stadium will go through two test runs, with the first coming on Mar. 22, 2008 when George Washington University plays a game there against Saint Joseph’s University. There will also be an exhibition game between the Nationals and the Baltimore Orioles just one day before the Nationals open their season on Mar. 30, 2008.

In the meantime, Washington, D.C. will keep a close eye on these final few weeks because if the stadium isn’t completed, they’ll be on the hook for some large penalties to the Nationals. Another concern with the ballpark is the lack of parking. Season ticket holders appear to be taken care of but those with single game tickets might not be as lucky.

Omaha announces ballpark plans

Omaha, Nebraska is trying to keep the College World Series. It’s been played there since 1950 but the current home, Rosenblatt Stadium, has been open since 1948. Improvements have been made on the stadium over the years but the NCAA has said they’d like a new stadium if they’re going to renew after the current deal expires in 2010. To accommodate that, city officials announced the plans for a $140 million downtown ballpark that would open in time to host the College World Series in 2011.

Getting the deal passed won’t be easy though. They still need approval to build the stadium on a pair of parking lots, and they also expect the “Save Rosenblatt Committee” to try to block any deal. The cost to renovate the stadium and still meet NCAA specifications would have an estimated cost of just under $85 million. The problem with renovating is that they’ll have to move the CWS for one year and the Omaha Royals for two seasons while the modifications are made.

If the new stadium deal passes, $59 million will come from the public through a one percent increase in the hotel tax as well a $2 surcharges on car rentals and lottery funds. The rest would come from private donors or it’d be paid for from stadium revenues. Prior to a vote, the city has asked the NCAA for a 20 year extension to ensure they’re completely on board.

Gesa Stadium gets more box seats

Gesa Stadium, home of the Tri-City Dust Devils in the city of Pasco, Washington has installed 600 new box seats that will be located in the upper reserved section of the stadium. The new seats are nearly identical to those used in two major league ballparks, and the installation allowed the team to then move 400 seats with backs on them into the bleacher section. The team’s general manager said that the renovations were done to accommodate what he hopes will be a high number of sellouts during the season.

Rules committee begins experimenting

Major League Baseball’s Playing Rules Committee adopted a number of minor changes to the rule book, as well as several experimental initiatives that will be tried out in the minor leagues in 2008. The big experiment is shortening the amount of time between pitches, and we’ll see those rules go into effect in the New York-Penn League and the Northwest League. Also going into effect are new rules that regulate how often a team can visit the pitcher on the mound, as well as a new rule stating where base coaches are allowed to stand on the field.

MLB cracks down on online reporting

MLB recently announced that they’ll be limiting the amount of photos, audio and video that they allowed to post, which is something similar to what the NFL did back in 2007. Online outlets will get no more then seven photos and only those with deals with MLB Advanced Media will be allowed to have audio or video. It’ll be interesting to see whether anyone challenges this like CDC challenged MLBAM with regard to fantasy baseball statistics.

Baseball in the Detroit suburbs

The northwest suburbs of Detroit, Michigan are already getting a Frontier League team in 2009 and if another gentleman had his way, the area would get a second team, as one Nikco Riesgo is looking to bring baseball to the Ponitac Silverdome, the former home of the Detroit Lions. There are plenty of loose ends though. The international league that Riesgo hopes to bring to the city hasn’t even been formed yet. The Silverdome has been vacant since 2002, when the Lions moved back to Detroit to play at Ford Field.

Fenway Park’s Coca Cola Corner Unveiled

Fenway Park continually sells out so since they’re at peak capacity, the only way to increase revenues is to either increase ticket prices or add more seats. They did the later this season as the Coca Cola Corner was unveiled. This new section of 412 seats sits just outside the Green Monster seats and the new section includes picnic tables. They’re not cheap as the price tag is $75 a seat. The corner previously had luxury box seats that were built to accomodate the 1999 All Star Game.

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