- Associated Press - Saturday, June 18, 2011

OMAHA, NEB. (AP) - TD Ameritrade Park drew high marks from North Carolina and Vanderbilt fans.

The $131 million stadium replaces Rosenblatt Stadium, which hosted the College World Series from 1950-2010.

Chris Nash, a 28-year-old Vanderbilt graduate from Chicago, made his first trip to Omaha and was impressed with the new venue but wished he had seen his alma mater play once at Rosenblatt.

“It would have been nice to see the old stadium,” Nash said, “but this is very nice. It’s big. I like everything I’ve seen so far.”

Steve Bunting and his wife, Christi, are in Omaha to cheer on son Ben, a senior outfielder for North Carolina. Ben Bunting played at Rosenblatt with the Tar Heels in 2008-09.

Steve Bunting said he didn’t quite know what to expect Saturday.

“I thought Rosenblatt had a lot of character,” he said. “But this is a beautiful facility. It doesn’t look like there’s a bad seat anywhere.”

Bunting said he likes that the bullpens at the new stadium are located beyond the outfield fence rather than near the foul lines, like at Rosenblatt.

But he said he misses the old ballpark smell of Rosenblatt.

Bunting and his wife said they just recently became aware of the Missouri River flooding. The river flows just a few blocks east of the stadium. Officials say the floodwaters won’t reach the stadium. Out-of-town visitors who flew to Omaha have remarked that they are amazed at the view from the air of the flood devastation.

“It’s very sad for the people,” Steve Bunting said. “I feel so sorry for all these people who have lost what they had in the flood.”


BUSH ZIPS PITCH: Former President George W. Bush tossed the ceremonial first pitch before the first game between Vanderbilt and North Carolina. The 43rd president stood at the base of the mound and put some zip on his toss before quickly exiting the field.

“It was a fastball, but a really slow fastball,” Bush said later.

Asked if the catcher gave him a good sign, Bush answered: “He gave me a good sign. The catcher could have caught it barehanded.”

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