[Information provided by: LSU Athletics]
National Freshman of the Year Alex Bregman stepped onto the field at TD Ameritrade Park on Friday and had one word to best sum up his experience -- "awesome."
He and the rest of the Tigers got their first look at the three-year-old $128 million exclusive home of the NCAA Men's College World Series with a practice day, autograph session and opening ceremonies to officially kickoff the 67th year of college baseball's main event.
LSU head coach Paul Mainieri participated in a press conference earlier in the day with the three other coaches who will play on Sunday. Three seasons removed from a 2009 national championship in historic Rosenblatt Stadium, Mainieri soaked in the sights of the new ballpark, walked through the concourse and greeted the hundreds of LSU fans seeking autographs.
"This is the mecca," he said. "This is the pinnacle of college baseball to be in Omaha now and to be in this beautiful new ballpark."
No. 4 national seed LSU (57-9) plays its first ever game in TD Ameritrade Park at 7 p.m. CT Sunday against UCLA (44-17) in a nationally televised game on ESPN2. The Bruins are the only team in the field who experienced the ballpark last season.
Upon arrival on Friday, the Tigers drew a crowd to take a team portrait and individual photos in front of the famed "Road to Omaha" statue. What once was a monument for fans at old Rosenblatt Stadium now stands proudly at the corner of Cuming and North 13th Streets. The statue made its move to the new park in April 2011.
LSU then made its way through the bowels of the stadium, touring the new locker room before meeting with ESPN and NCAA.com reporters at the expansive club level, which features a pavilion with a panoramic view of the stadium.
The ballpark has a Major League like feel to it. Batting cages are just steps away from each dugout, enabling teams to hit in inclement conditions or allowing a pinch hitter to get ready with some swings before he is called upon. The old organ, playing the notes of Lambert Bartak at Rosenblatt, even made its way over to the new venue.