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Rosenblatt Stadium's outfield bleachers came down Saturday but will reincarnate next year at Council Bluffs St. Albert's Al Leber Field.
An army of well-organized St. Albert School students, parents, graduates and supporters went to work in teams of four and five, detaching the bleachers, carrying them down to the field and placing them into trucks.
“Can you hear me out there?” St. Albert President Joe Connolly said through a makeshift public address system. Many workers had already begun removing the bleachers. “Thank you! Keep working!”
The whir of power tools and the clanking of metal on metal sounded the end, for now, of the bleachers that held fans for College World Series and Omaha Royals baseball games, fireworks shows, concerts and other events.
Sean Mahoney, who graduated this year from St. Albert, said he was happy to help his alma mater but sad to see Rosenblatt taken apart. Mahoney, who now attends Iowa Western Community College, had been a batboy for the Royals and an usher for the College World Series.
“I spent a lot of time here,” Mahoney said.
The chilly, windy morning called for stocking caps and gloves, and the gray day contributed to a dour setting.
Much of the outfield grass at the South Omaha ballpark is gone and some of the seats along the first-base line have been removed. Piece by piece, Rosenblatt Stadium, now owned by the Omaha Zoo Foundation, is going away.
“It looks like it's been deserted for 10 years,” said St. Albert sophomore Eric Johnson, who helped lift bleachers into the trucks parked on the field.
The gloom was countered by the exuberance with which the St. Albert volunteers worked.
“If you keep moving, you stay warm,” said Cathy Nielsen, who graduated from St. Albert more than 30 years ago. She carried metal pieces from the bleacher area to the trucks.
St. Albert, a coed school with day care, early childhood programs and all grade levels, is known for sound academics and strong sports programs.
“It's a pride thing,” Nielsen said. She has three children who graduated from the Catholic school and a niece and two nephews in the St. Albert system now. “It's kind of neat to say you're from St. Albert.”
St. Albert acquired the bleachers from the zoo foundation for a price that Joe Connolly and the foundation declined to disclose.
The foundation continues to sell items, including seats, lights, light poles, speakers and eventually doors and windows. Inquiries may be made to the zoo foundation, 402-738-2073.
The St. Albert crews' breaks for coffee and hot chocolate in the outfield were brief. They had planned to work all day if that's what it took to take the bleachers down, but they wrapped up their task by midafternoon.
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