Today's announcement that the Omaha Royals have agreed to negotiate exclusively with Sarpy County over the next four months isn't exactly a surprise, as it's become clear in recent weeks that Sarpy County fully intended to pursue the Royals.
But it's not a "done deal" as some people are reporting.
Namely, I'll believe this deal is happening once I learn of a reasonable financing plan. I've been skeptical of the ability of Sarpy County to pull this off, and this latest announcement doesn't answer those questions. In fact, today's announcement was intentionally vague, merely stating that the deal is dependent on a "mutually agreeable financing plan."
Whatever the heck that is.
The Sarpy County estimates show the total cost of the ballpark would top $40 million, and that doesn't include land acquisition costs. The Royals are offering to make a "substantial" contribution, though what "substantial" means isn't clear. But how will Sarpy County pay for it? Stadium revenues will help, to be sure. But it'll likely take more than that. Property taxes? A request to the state legislature for funds? That's very likely unless somebody steps forward with a sizable donation, much like Omaha's corporate titans donated millions for the new downtown stadium. With a big enough donation, anything is possible and in fact, very feasible.
Counting on property or state tax revenue? That's a whole other situation, and something I'm still skeptical of.
And thus, my skepticism continues.