Originally created 06/08/01

Bush, Husker draw could leave some fans outside



OMAHA, Neb. -- The friendly confines of Rosenblatt Stadium were expected to be stretched beyond capacity Friday with a presidential visit and Nebraska's first-ever game in the College World Series.

The combination could leave many baseball fans frustrated and listening to cheers from the parking lot.

All 120,000 general admission tickets to the series have been sold, yet the stadium's general admission bleachers hold only about 5,000.

Those tickets do not guarantee entrance to any game, and fans will be allowed in on a first-come, first-served basis. Most of the tickets to the other 20,000 reserved seats at Rosenblatt were purchased in advance.

That means that some of the Cornhusker faithful expected to turn out in droves for Nebraska's 6 p.m. matchup with top-seeded Cal State-Fullerton will not get through the gates. Georgia begins play Saturday afternoon, facing Southern Cal.

"Fans with general admission tickets will find it difficult to get a seat for any of the Nebraska games, but that has always been the case for the more popular games during any College World Series," said Jack Diesing, president of College World Series Inc.

A few hours before the Nebraska game, President Bush is scheduled to throw out the first pitch before the series-opening Stanford-Tulane game.

The required Secret Service precautions for the president's visit combined with the crowds of Nebraska fans are sure to slow things down.

"Hopefully, everyone knows that it's probably going to take a little more time to get into the stadium - I would say 30 to 45 minutes longer," said Jim Wright, NCAA statistics director.

Slowing the process more, Wright said, will be Husker fans trying to get into Friday's early game to ensure a seat for the later Nebraska-Cal State-Fullerton matchup. Once fan find seats, they can stay for both games in a session.

"There are a lot factors to make it insanity, but hopefully it will be a good insanity," Wright said.

No one will be asked to give up their seats for presidential security reasons, but it will take fans longer to reach their seats, said Paul Johnson, the Secret Service's agent-in-charge in Omaha.

Metal detectors will be set up at all entrances and agents will inspect all bags, cameras and other items.

"There is a little delay, but we fly in some highly skilled officers who do this everyday and know how to get crowds through in a hurry," Johnson said.

The president's motorcade could also snarl traffic when the Secret Service closes a street next to the stadium for Bush's arrival and departure.

All that has not deterred fans, the first of whom started lining up Tuesday evening for the remaining 1,000 reserved tickets that were scheduled to go on sale Friday morning. Because of crowds camped outside the box office, the tickets instead went on sale Thursday afternoon.

City officials plan to keep a running head count of people waiting to get into the stadium's general admission section after Thursday night's opening ceremonies so they can let any arriving fans know whether it would be futile to join the line. ---

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