PARRISH ALFORD: Omaha experience delivers on expectations

PARRISH ALFORD

PARRISH ALFORD

TUPELO

The years roll on, but I still do not consider myself to be the “get off my lawn” guy.

Nor do I take everything at face value all the time. Cynicism is often a handy tool for sports writers.

So when my Omaha time came, I was eager to see all that has inspired the positive College World Series reviews I’ve heard for years.

My Mississippi State nephew calls the CWS the trip of his life, and I’ve heard many other glowing reports.

I’m not here to dismantle those notions, but I will offer a suggestion.

First the good news.

TD Ameritrade Park is phenomenal.

There’s a lot of angst about the lack of home runs and offense in general. The park could be tweaked to improve those things, if that’s what the powers-that-be decide.

From a standpoint of sight lines, amenities and a big-time feel TD Ameritrade Park is five stars.

The sparkling Century Link Center, an arena and conference center, is next to the park. I wouldn’t mind landing there for the NCAA basketball tournament.

Downtown Omaha is vibrant and clean.

When I saw the Mutual of Omaha building I couldn’t help but think of Marlin Perkins, host of Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom. That gets back to that age thing I referenced at the beginning, I reckon.

People were friendly and welcoming. It was fun to be part of the local culture, especially “The Drover,” a throwback no-frills steakhouse of excellent quality.

I’ve always heard that the city of Omaha really embraces the CWS, and I found that to be true.

For any municipality, there’s a lot to love when an event brings in between $40 and $50 million each year.

Omaha has become synonymous with college baseball.

That being said, it would be nice if the city leaders and hotel owners could get together and do something nice for the people – many of them repeat visitors whether their team is playing or not – who pump that cash into the economy.

Curtailing the over-charging of hotel rooms would be a good start. A downtown hotel room that went for $279 during the series is now being offered for $149. There were many rooms during the CWS that cost a lot more than $279.

I get the whole “special event pricing” thing. We see it during football season, although a weekend football trip doesn’t have 10-day potential – or more – as does the CWS.

Economics wasn’t my strong suit, but I understand supply and demand. That price structure can sustain itself as long as rooms are being sold, but there’s profit to be had at a lower pricetag.

Just because you can charge that much doesn’t mean you should, and if Omaha enjoys the attention of the college baseball nation and the adoration of its guests, what better place to say thank you than in the wallet.

Parrish Alford (parrish.alford@journaliinc.com) covers Ole Miss for the Daily Journal. He blogs daily at Djournal.com.