- Associated Press - Thursday, June 23, 2011

OMAHA, NEB. (AP) - The NCAA administrator in charge of baseball is pleased so far with the new TD Ameritrade Park through the first five days of the College World Series.

“I’m not going to celebrate yet,” Dennis Poppe said. “We might be at halftime starting the second half.”

Poppe, the NCAA vice president for football and baseball, said other than a few minor glitches, the first CWS at the $131 million stadium has run smoothly.

The facility was built to enhance the fan experience _ Rosenblatt Stadium was cramped and run down _ but Poppe wanted to place the emphasis on the players’ experience too.

“We put a lot of time and effort into the playing conditions,” Poppe said, “and I have not heard one complaint. And that’s the most important thing.”

The only issue that has come up is the placement of fencing above the yellow line on the outfield wall. Florida’s Brian Johnson hit a ball Saturday that struck the fence and bounced back onto the field. Johnson was held to a double, but the NCAA umpiring supervisor said after the game that the hit should have been ruled a home run.

Texas coach Augie Garrido said the fencing atop the wall _ in place to diminish the opportunity for fans to interfere _ “creates confusion.”

Creighton hosted 18 games at the stadium before the CWS, and Poppe relied on Bluejays coach Ed Servais to point out any flaws.

“They fixed a bad spot on the infield dirt near third base,” Poppe said, “and corrected a lighting issue that affected balls hit to left field.”

Players have given the surface high marks, and there didn’t appear to be many bad hops.

Poppe said fans seem to be embracing the stadium. He said two longtime season ticket-holders made an interesting comment to him.

“They looked up and said, ‘Mr. Poppe, we came up here just wanting to hate this stadium, but it’s pretty nice.’”

Poppe understands why some fans might feel the same way after Rosenblatt Stadium was the home for the CWS from 1950 until last year.

“I have a lot of fond memories and love Rosenblatt,” Poppe said, “but I’m very quickly having an affinity for this place. I think it’s an appropriate place for college baseball.”


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