Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Omaha Announces New CWS Park

You can read all about the new College World Series ballpark online, so there isn't much of a need to cover all the details. But there are a few highlights that are intriguing:

The World-Herald previously reported that the NCAA first brought up the idea of the new stadium. Now the stadium committee stadium says that the NCAA hasn't expressed a preference. Was the World-Herald wrong? Maybe...maybe not. Note the stadium committe website says that the NCAA had no preference between a new stadium and an "extensive" renovation. That means that the $30 million patchup of Rosenblatt would NOT have been sufficient. Omaha needed to spend a minimum of $80 million... the only question is where and what makes the most sense for this city long term.

I believe that one of the driving forces for a downtown stadium is to create expansion room for the Henry Doorly Zoo. The zoo doesn't really want to come out and say it (and jump into the middle of this controversy, thus antagonizing their neighbors), but this does open up opportunities for the zoo to grow. Making a huge investment in Rosenblatt Stadium would have blocked the zoo from expanding to the west. As Omaha's #1 tourist attraction, I think that's why many of Omaha's leaders were pushing for a downtown stadium. Maybe it's not an issue now, but it might in ten or twenty years.

The complaints about hotel taxes and car rental fees are much to-do about nothing. I checked the rates at four-star hotels in Omaha (Hilton), Kansas City (Hilton), Des Moines (Renaissance), and Minneapolis (Hyatt). Omaha's room tax would be the highest of all these, but the total cost of the room was second lowest because the room rate was the lowest, tied with Kansas City. At today's press conference, they said that the increased room tax takes Omaha from the 81st most expensive city for hotels to the 80th.

The argument about the keno revenue is a valid criticism, however. That's money that was going to the county, which the county will need to recover. (Probably a county tax increase.) However, the city was likely not to renew the agreement with Douglas County to share keno revenue anyway, so the county was probably not going to get that money in the future anyway. (In other words, the county tax increase was probably going to happen anyway.) However, one could argue that the city could use it to lower taxes or on other projects that might require increased taxes. (Such as Omaha's sewer problems.) So yes, that money could have been used differently.

The economics of the College World Series have been updated to emphasize why it's so important to keep the CWS here. 48.5% of CWS attendees are from out of state. $41 million of economic impact in 2007 (up from $33 million four years ago). $4.6 million in taxes paid; $1.8 million to the city alone. People who talk about how we "can't afford it" need to realize that it's probably more true that we can't afford NOT to have it.

Maybe the CWS wouldn't leave here immediately if Omaha doesn't do this with the NCAA, but I think it's safe to say that the NCAA would begin looking elsewhere at some point. If Omaha succeeds in getting a 20 year or longer commitment from the NCAA, this is still a great opportunity for Omaha.

1 comment:

The Mighty Favog said...

You know, it's downright hilarious how a bunch of people who generally couldn't find their ass with both hands can be so certain that a) Mike Fahey is trying to pull a fast one with the downtown stadium thing and that the stated financials are totally bogus, and b) that the CWS won't haul butt tomorrow if Omaha offers the NCAA a status-quo proposition.

And the deal is, Rosenblatt is doomed even if those who want to save it manage to sink a new stadium. Save the CWS, Rosenblatt is doomed. "Save" Rosenblatt, lose the CWS, have no reason in the world to keep a 24,000 seat aging dinosaur around -- particularly when the Omaha Royals really and truly DON'T WANT TO BE THERE.

In that case, the Royals get a new smaller downtown stadium that Creighton also can use, or the Royals, and there will be NO ONE to even reluctantly play in the "saved" Rosenblatt.

What we have here is a stark example of why the United States is a republic, not a direct democracy.

Mike Fahey is a better man than I. I would have gone all Hal Daub on these buffoons a long time ago.

ANYWAY, here's a blog post of mine that explains it all . . . and also explains the subject line of this E-mail:

And here's an earlier post on the whole thing:

Because, after all, it has to be said, and no one else has said it thus far.

-- The Mighty Favog