Hollywood actor Kevin Costner will appear in a commercial starting on Wednesday that seeks support to keep the series at Rosenblatt Stadium instead of the city's plan to build a bigger facility. Even though corn does not line the outfield at the city's ballpark, Costner calls it a "field of dreams" for baseball fans who gather there each summer for the College World Series.
"The College World Series calls Rosenblatt its home," Costner says in the commercial, which he made for free. "It's a tradition as strong as baseball itself."
The stadium - which seats 23,145 - is in need of at least USD25 million in improvements, according to CWS Inc., the local organizing body for the event. NCAA officials - who want the summer contest to keep growing - suggested that if Omaha were going to spend that much to renovate Rosenblatt, they should consider a new stadium.
Omaha officials want to keep the series in the city no matter what it takes, and are worried that tradition alone won't convince the NCAA. Omaha Mayor Mike Fahey agreed last month to back a proposal for building a new 25,000- to 30,000-seat ballpark.
An Omaha group that wants to preserve the series' tradition called "Save Rosenblatt" hopes Costner's star power can change the tide.
The "Field of Dreams" star attended the series in 1995, 1999 and 2001 to support his alma mater, Cal State-Fullerton. Although the Titans were in the eight-team field this year, he didn't make it.
Jason Smith, one of the organizers for Save Rosenblatt, said the group spent about USD5,000 (EUR3,605) making the commercial and another USD5,000 (EUR3,605) to air it in the Omaha market during programming on cable channels including CNN, TNT and ESPN2. The group is raising money to pay for more commercial spots.
Joe Gudenrath, Fahey's spokesman, said the city respects the opinion of those concerned about Rosenblatt.
But, he said, "Mayor Fahey must do what is in the best interest of all Omaha citizens, and most importantly, must ensure a long term relationship with the College World Series."
Rosenblatt has been home to the College World Series for more than 50 years, and also is home to the Triple-A Omaha Royals. More than 300,000 people attended the college tournament games this year over a 10-day span in June.