Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Office Park, Not Omaha Royals, for Proposed Chalco Site

Yesterday, the developers of Southport announced plans to begin construction this fall on an office park just southwest of Cabelas in Sarpy County. Does that location sound familiar?

That's the same location that last month was suggested as the new home for the Omaha Royals.

While the developers aren't shutting the door completely on the idea of a ballpark in that location, it's obvious that the developers aren't waiting to find out the Royals plans, telling the Omaha World-Herald that any talks would have to be in the next 60 days, since construction of the office park is scheduled to begin this fall.

Is that the end of Sarpy County talk? Of course not. For starters, there is another parcel of land just south of Cabelas still available, though it's only half as big as the office park parcel. Could a stadium even fit on that property, let alone with enough parking? That's really doubtful. Sarpy County officials are clear that they are considering several other locations along I-80 heading southwest towards Lincoln.

But heading further southwest also takes the stadium further and further away from the heart of the metro area; in fact, we may no longer be talking about Chalco...we may be talking about Gretna.

Does this development reopen the door to the Royals playing downtown? The more I think about it, I don't think the doors ever closed all that much. Last week's announcement that the Royals would entertain other offers was purely a negotiating position. It's a business, and they need to find the best deal they can find. Right now, it looks like the best opportunities for the Royals are in SugarLand, Texas and downtown Omaha.

And let's make it clear, the Royals are NOT building a new stadium. "We are not in the market to build a stadium," Royals president Alan Stein told the LaVista Sun. In fact, after reading Sarpy County Attorney Lee Polikov's comments about "hoping to break even", it's becoming more clear that the best move for the metro area would be for the Omaha Royals to play downtown.

1 comment:

Husker_Engineer said...

I really hope something is done to keep the Royals in the area--preferable downtown. If it is not in the downtown stadium, then MECA has made a huge error IMO. And here is the rub. If the Royals get a deal to play in Chalco -- or even Gretna, the downtown stadium will be consigned to the CWS, a handful of Creighton games, and the occassional outdoor concert or something.

MECA can talk all it wants about getting an Independent League team, but it won't happen (or last long)if the Royals are still in the Metro area. Who wants to drive downtown to see that level of baseball when I can make a shorter drive to see better baseball?

If the Royals play in Chalco, that stadium becomes a monument to Omaha's desperation to keep the CWS...and little else.