Yesterday, Kevin Kugler of KOZN radio (1620 AM) broke the story that the the Omaha Royals had discussed a new stadium with the city of LaVista near Cabela's at the Interstate 80/Harrison Street interchange. The World-Herald reports that yesterday, Alan Stein, the managing partner of the Royals, started negotiations with MECA to play in the new downtown stadium.
So what's going on here? Well...it's negotiations carried in public. And the media and the public is getting to see part of the posturing that is going on. Nothing new really...this is the sequel to MECA's negotiations with the Mayor's office over the ball park.
Both sides have made some bombastic statements. MECA's David Sokol and Roger Dixon have said the stadium works without the Royals. Perhaps...but without any activity in the stadium in July and August once college baseball season is over, it's not as likely to spur development downtown. Of course, maybe MECA is thinking about another team, perhaps a independent league team like in Kansas City, Lincoln, and Sioux City.
A couple of weeks ago, Stein suggested that MECA's $6 parking fee was too high compared to other minor league ballparks. So I did a quick survey of other nearby PCL teams: Indianapolis $5, Oklahoma City also $5, Des Moines $6. Now I don't particularly like to pay to park...but considering the Royals first proposed a downtown stadium, you've got to question what they were expecting.
Bottom line is that both sides are posturing to get themselves the best deal. I don't think La Vista is a serious option. I'm not sure where La Vista would get the money for a ballpark, or even how La Vista would make it economically viable. Council Bluffs used casino revenue to build the Mid-America Center to lure the Omaha Lancers across the river...and the Mid-America Center has struggled financially. Maybe the economics of Sarpy County and suburban Omaha are better than Council Bluffs, but I really question the viability of a suburban baseball stadium. There's a reason why most baseball stadiums are built downtown these days.
Another interesting dynamic in this debate that no one speaks of is David Sokol, chairman of MECA and Warren Buffett, part owner of the Royals. The same David Sokol who is mentioned as a potential successor to succeed Buffett at Berkshire Hathaway. That's why, in the end, I think this deal gets done downtown. We're just seeing tough negotiations by very successful people.
With rain in the forecast for today and tomorrow, I took advantage of last night's beautiful weather to fertilize and seed my lawn last evening. So I turned off the TV...and when I came back in an hour and a half later, realized I had only missed one inning of the Nebraska/Creighton game. Oh...and "Huskers 13"...
Jeffie over at DoubleExtraPoint enters the debate over Joe Ganz vs. Sam Keller...except that Jeffie starts reading more into my defense of Ganz than I stated. Obviously the best quarterbacks in the Big XII are Chase Daniel, Graham Harrell, Sam Bradford, and probably Colt McKoy. Ganz is going to be somewhere in the middle. Jeffie does use a little different definition of "garbage time" than I originally used; he worked with a 15 point or greater lead. I used a 24 or more points as my definition. His numbers might be a better way to evaluate the two.
What a turnaround season for Dan Ellis. The former UNO goaltender signed a free-agent contract with Nashville after being buried in the Dallas Stars organization ever since leaving UNO. He made the Predators roster in training camp in a minor surprise, joining former UNO teammate Greg Zanon...then spent the whole season outplaying the Preds' #1 goalie before finally getting the nod as the playoffs approached. And Ellis took his game to the next level in the playoffs, almost singlehandely holding off the top-seeded Detroit Red Wings throughout the series, including a 52 save performance in game 5. Alas, Detroit took game 6 to end the season. But Ellis is getting plenty of props, including some kudos from Don Cherry (you know, the crazy Canadian hockey commentator who dresses like Herb Tarlek, minus the white belt). Ellis will be a free agent again, and certainly will cash in for much more this offseason.