Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Chalco Baseball: Done Deal or Boondoggle?

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.


Anonymous said...

My guess is they can make it work for $30 million, that they can get the land donated, that the Royals will put in 1/2 the money, that the legislature will approve an entertainment tax, and that they will get a big sponsorship from a Sarpy corporate player.

Assuming those factors come together, there is really not that much money left for the taxpayers - not much more than a major roads project.

A lot of ifs in that above statement, but I think it shows that it might be very feasible for a mutually agreeable plan to be developed.

Combine this with SAC Museum, Mahoney State Park, Cabella's and you have a good start for an entertainment destination zone on I-80 - isn't that what the Governor's I-80 Commission has been talking about?

Next just need a regional ammusement park somewhere on the south side of Sarpy or north side of Cass around I-80.

Husker Mike said...

In the past, the Royals have been talking closer to 25% of the cost. I'm still skeptical about whether there is a donor who wants to put a stadium in western Sarpy County.

But a minor league baseball stadium is not worthy of state tourism dollars; it has virtually zero interest to anybody outside the metro area. SAC Museum, Mahoney, Cabela's all are regional destinations (even though there is a Cabela's in Kearney and Kansas City). Heck, an amusement park is worth more in terms of tourism than a minor league baseball stadium.

If any stadium is worthy of state funding for development, it's the downtown stadium which will be bringing in tourists from across the country for the next 25 years.

Omababe said...

It would be nice if all of the children would agree to play in the same sandbox, but it looks like that's not gonna happen. :(

North Sarpy County is exploding with activity, as anyone who drives into Omaha can plainly see! A stadium, if done right, could be a win-win for the Royals and for the community.