28 Feb 2008 @ 8:50 PM 

I am going to cut this down to a “read more” so you’re not forced to sit through it as you scroll down.

I have been in Omaha for more than 10 years now and there has been a trend in this city to blow up and mow down our city’s heritage in favor of new and shiny.  I came from San Antonio Texas, where most every old building that was in the downtown area was handled with the respect and reverence that it deserved.  They built around, over, behind, and even under these buildings trying to preserve what once was.  It was amazing to be 10 – 15 feet below the ground level of the Alamo on the river walk.  There was glass windows encasing history and incorporation of the past into every structure.  It truly made me proud of San Antonio.

Now contrast that with Omaha.  You had a wealth of old buildings downtown.  There were beautiful brick warehouses and office buildings all over down town.  You can see from some of the pictorial books showing Omaha’s history that these hand crafted artworks littered downtown.  They are gone.  There are only a handful of these beautiful relics left.  Some have been turned into loft apartments while others are called “The Old Market”.  It’s a sad excuse for what used to be the joy of downtown.  Now we have gleaming glass buildings, huge parks, and that monstrosity: The ConAgra campus which has single handedly nuked more beautiful buildings in Omaha than any other project.

That rant aside, lets take a moment to reflect on what this means from a purely sentimental perspective.  The term hasn’t always been “Road to Omaha” it has also been called the “Road to Rosenblatt”.  Taking that into account, what’s being said for tradition?  Next item up is accessibility.  Currently, Rosenblatt is located right off of I-80.  it doesn’t share it’s access with anything but the Henry Doorly Zoo.  Compare that with the proposed site: Right next to the Qwest Center.  It will take up some of the parking spaces that have been allotted to the Qwest center which already has traffic congestion issues.  If there is an event at the Qwest AND the new stadium on the same night (which is rather likely) there will be no parking to be found as well as complete gridlock if they got out at or close to the same time.  If there is an emergency, it will be complete mayhem trying to get in or out. There will not be any parking for businesses downtown as there will be a great many people huffing it from one of the parking garages down town.  I really believe that this will be a bad idea.

Our next point deals with neighborhoods.  There has been a big push to move businesses back downtown.  There has been tons of money (tax payer dollars) spent on revitalizing it.  That has left North Omaha and South Omaha becoming poorer and poorer.  No jobs = less hope = more drugs = more crime = etc… So all the businesses that have looked to the traffic from Rosenblatt to support them and the money spent in that area will be gone.  Again, this town would lose some more of it heritage. We would then complain that there is too much crime in South Omaha and then we would have to spend more tax dollars combating that.  Did anyone even think of the economic impact that this would have on the South Omaha community?  Did the news even mention that?  It makes me sick really.  More for the new and shiny than preserving who we are as a city.

The people of Omaha have bent over barrels and taken it in the shorts time and time again for someone else’s desire to lay their name in the history books or “memorializing plaques” that sit out front of these new “toys”.  It’s the corporate mindset that I find most people in this city complain about, but nobody does anything to stop.  Everything has to be modern.  Everything has to “lead the way to the future”.  How about, as a city, we hold onto the gems, the anchors, the pillars, and examples of who and what Omaha is about.  I’m no economic genius, but I’m sure that anyone can spin numbers any way they like to make it look good on paper.  How about we just do what’s truly right for the people of Omaha.  Heck, lets just let the people of Omaha decide for themselves instead of letting a few power mongers decide for us.

That’s my 2 cents.

Thank you and good night!

~The Omaha Critic

Posted By: The Omaha Critic
Last Edit: 28 Feb 2008 @ 08:50 PM

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  1. Rusty says:

    As much as I respect your opinion, and as valid as your points are, I have to disagree with a few.

    First, I think that San Antonio has a much better opportunity to relish in their history because of the way the city was built up. It is a much older city, and contrasted with most other major cities in Texas, it is unique in it’s established historical sectors.

    Second, aside from Rosenblatt, that part of town really doesn’t have anything of historical significance. As comes with any big city, in any part of the world, underdeveloped, and underprivileged portions of large cities just exist. I grew up in North Omaha, a few blocks Northeast of Miller Park (30th and Redick). It might not be Compton, but at far as Omaha is concerned, it’s close enough. It takes more than a 2 week project and a stadium to revitalize an entire sector of a city.

    I don’t feel Rosenblatt has a major impact on the area, save for the few thousand dollars independent citizens make in raping CWS attendees for parking spots in their yards. The business owners of places like Zesto’s and King Kong (tough break on THAT one) more than likely don’t live in the area. Although, obviously, I could be wrong. My point being that although Rosenblatt might draw in the attendance of a few rich folks and a few extra police officers for a few weeks out of the year doesn’t convince me that any of those people think about that part of town the other 350 days.

    I also think that Omaha isn’t an established city. Is it expanding? Of course. Does it have potential? Loads. But, right now, we are competing with other mid major cities to make it over that next threshold. Whether or not any one person wants that isn’t the argument at hand. Omaha is on the move. Every major city has a developed downtown area. The downtown area has to be a draw. Here is one way to show how the downtown area is expanding at a successful rate, albeit a minor one, that is appropriate for this website: sushi restaurants. In this city and state, seafood is viewed as out of the ordinary. And, why shouldn’t it be? It’s expensive, the taste isn’t exactly incorporated into the culture of the people who live here, and for the last few years, nationally, it’s been trendy. Where are the two best known sushi restaurants in town moving in the next year? Downtown. Both are shelling out millions of dollars for prime real estate in an to attempt to claim the throne at the top of their respective business ventures. The downtown area is moving forward. In 15 years we will have accomplished some pretty nice feats.

    Most importantly, and this would/could/should be the selling point for anyone, is the lockup of the CWS for an extended period of time. If we lock up the CWS for 25-35 years, we are putting Omaha in the unique position to host an NCAA championship for not only the time we’ve already had it, which is more than any city can say about any other NCAA national championship event, but we will continue that streak for decades to come. All NCAA title games rotate, except for baseball. This could be the last chance for any city to be able to lock the CWS up after a stadium change. Right now, the NCAA is giving us the benefit of the doubt because it’s been here so long. What in the world do we do with the stadium when the NCAA decides it has better options? We are bidding for the event, we aren’t entitled to it.

    All stadiums come down. Mile High in Denver coming down broke my heart. And, when Yankee stadium comes down at the end of next season, I’m sure there are some Yankee fans who will lose an entire piece of their souls. Even that stadium down in Lincoln is going to come down someday.

    Another piece of our great city, one that is far more important in my opinion, and for a lot of reasons, is the Henry Doorly Zoo. It is effectively being collapsed under it’s own weight. It has to share parking, it has no room to expand, and two weeks of it’s busiest time of the year are cut down by a neighboring event.

    Both the Zoo and the CWS can grow, the downtown area continues much anticipated and well received development, and we get to keep the last stationary NCAA championship event here for another quarter decade. Sounds like the next generations of Omaha have a lot to look forward to to me.

  2. Thanks for the comment Rusty – it’s nice to see well-informed and well-written dissenting opinions!

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