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Werner Park / Omaha Storm Chasers

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Sometimes, it seems, we overthink what goes on in a ballpark. At the end of the day, baseball is a simple game: You throw the ball, you hit the ball, you catch the ball. And, at the end of the day, a ballpark is simply a place to have fun. That realization is on full display at Werner Park, the new home of the Omaha Storm Chasers (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League): it’s a place for the family to hang out, watch some baseball and have lots of fun.

Werner Park

Fast Facts

Year Opened: 2011
: 9,023 (includes 6,434 fixed seats)
: 14
: $26 million
Naming Rights
: Werner Enterprises, a national trucking company whose headquarters are just down the road from the ballpark, is paying $305,000 annually over five years, with an option for a five-year renewal.
: Sarpy County
: DLR Group
: The Weitz Company
: 310L, 402C, 315R
: Omaha Storm Chasers
: Class AAA
: Pacific Coast League
: Kansas City Royals
Home Dugout
: Third-base side
Ticket Prices (2011)
: The Storm Chasers have a variable-ticketing scheme; in general weekend tickets are more expensive than weekday tickets. Club, $16.50/$15.50; Field Box, $12.50/$11.50; Box, $10/$9; Homerun Porch, $6.50; Berm, $6.
: Free on gravel lot, $2 on paved lots.
: 12356 Ballpark Way, Papillion, NE 68046. The ballpark is located on Highway 370, a major throughway running east-west through Papillion. From Omaha, take I-80 south and exit on Hwy. 370; head east to the ballpark, which will be on your left and hard to miss. The freeway exit is marked.

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With a huge play area, lots of open spaces and plenty of hospitality spots big and small, Werner Park is pretty much the opposite of the former home of the Storm Chasers, Rosenblatt Stadium, where things were small and cramped. The Storm Chasers management – led by President Alan Stein and Vice President/General Manager Martie Cordaro – had a game plan early on: create a ballpark friendly to groups and families, with enough flourishes to keep the fans coming out throughout the season.

It is a success, by any measure. Build for a relatively modest $26 million, Werner Park is an inviting place to take in a game and should serve the team well for decades to come.

First off, the ballpark design. You’d think a baseball facility comprising 15 separate buildings would be an older ballpark retrofitted over the years, but that’s not the case here: there was a conscious decision by architect DLR Group to build a modular ballpark. Now, we’re seen plenty of talk over the year about the notion of a modular ballpark, but this is the first case of one being successfully completed. Some of the buildings were built on-site; others prefabricated and trucked in. The buildings constructed on-site use some local materials – they’re the ones built with Nebraska limestone on the exterior – but all feature the same design aesthetic: a vaguely prairie style with lots of corrugated steel and limestone.