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04/23/2017 - From The Press Box: Southeast Baseball Climbs Into Rankings, New Facilities Planned At Buell, Burke Stadiums
From The Press Box

Montana Jones knows how much baseball tradition there is at Lincoln Southeast.  
The 2011 Southeast graduate played baseball for the Knights, as well as their Legion baseball team sponsored by JC Brager.  In Jones' senior year, Southeast made the state tournament, only to be eliminated after two games (losses to Millard North and Papillion-LaVista South).

Now as their head coach, Jones has Southeast playing (perhaps) better baseball than most teams in the state.

In the past week, the Knights defeated 2nd-ranked Millard South 6-1, then beat No. 8 Lincoln Northeast 4-1, and won the Monarch Invite by beating Class B No. 2 Lincoln Pius X, Class A No. 5 Millard West and Class B No. 7 Gretna to claim first place.

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Southeast has relied on veterans like Garrett Olson, Brian Meyer and Nate Trenhaile to be key components in the team's success.  

One thing that may be helpful for the Knights is they have weathered much of their schedule of high-powered teams.  On Monday, they will face a Lincoln North Star team that put a scare into Creighton Prep a few weeks back before the Junior Jays rallied to win.

Fremont Bergan is scrappy, but 1-21 Norfolk may be a cakewalk and a 5-15 Lincoln High team could cause some fits for Southeast.

Still......anything is possible.  

Jones has this team playing good baseball at the right time.  It's a matter of sustaining that momentum through districts and toward State.


They finally listened to me!

Kidding aside, there's no question that two of the premier football facilities in the Omaha metro area were in dire need of big time upgrades.

In trips to Buell Stadium at Millard South and Burke Stadium at Omaha Burke over the last few years to cover football games, I kept telling my colleagues and press box personnel that everything needed face lifts.

Let's take Buell first.  When the stadium was built in 1969, it was made for a Class B to small Class A-sized school.  At the time Millard High (now Millard South) was by itself off of 144th and "Q" Streets before Omaha officially annex the Millard community into the big city.

With the boom of westward development through major companies and manufacturers relocating to the western edge of Omaha, it seemed inevitable that Millard would blossom into a major area of the metro for residential and leisure purposes.

It surpassed that, probably 40 years ago.

The press box at Buell Stadium needs more space for media, since you have radio, print, web and TV all requesting space for game coverage.  It's tight quarters, but you still have a tremendous view of the game!

Concession stand needs expansion to help accommodate crowds, as do the restrooms.  Seating on the west side needs upgrades, too.

Buell Stadium is home now to three Millard high schools, plus the annual Nebraska State Bandmasters Association Marching contest.  Total cost of the renovation would be around $10-million, which would be funded with private dollars.

Burke Stadium, though, would be worth nearly $11-million in upgrades, with $2-million coming from Omaha Public Schools for a new track and field turf.  But the utilization of Burke has become more in demand in recent years.

In 2013, covering a playoff game there, I didn't realize how cramped and limited the spacing was in the press box.  I forgotten how limited we were in spacing when I made the trip back up last fall for the Lincoln East/Omaha Burke playoff game.

Action needed to be done right away or there may have been a risk of losing the State Track Meet.  Ultimately, that's highly unlikely.

Not only is it home to Burke High's football games, but it's also the new home for Creighton Prep football and it's hosted the State High School Track Meet for about 45 years.  

Much of the improvements to Burke Stadium revolve around the fact that more than 27,000 people show up each year to watch the State Track meet.  Like Buell, the stadium needs massive upgrades to the press box, expanded restrooms, new lights, more bleachers, and concession stands.  Only thing different would be a paved parking lot on the west side.

Aside from the stadium, Burke's baseball field would get upgrades, plus adding an indoor baseball/softball practice facility.  Practice fields for soccer, lacrosse and marching band with lighting available for nighttime workouts.    

Let's hope that both Omaha Public Schools and Millard Public Schools take a page out of the Lincoln Public Schools notebook, when it comes to press box upgrades.

Not being biased, but Seacrest Field's press box accommodations are probably the best in Class A when it comes to spacing.  

I just hope those two Omaha district follow through on a similar path.

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