I must say that Omaha's reaction to the Ricketts family's purchase of the Chicago Cubs surprised me. Apparently many people were thinking the same way I was; it's a sobering message to the Omaha and Kansas City Royals. Kansas City's inept management of the allegedly big-league Royals over the last fifteen years has turned a once proud franchise into a joke..and by proxy, their loyal AAA franchise three hours north. Until last week, Omaha's remaining Royals fans were reduced to praying that somehow, some way, Sarpy County could find a way to build a ballpark small enough to make a Royals crowd look impressive.
Then the bombshell of the Ricketts purchase hit, and suddenly baseball fans started emerging from the woodwork when the idea of the Cubs AAA franchise playing downtown started to emerge. It's not a slam dunk by any means. First, TD Ameritrade hasn't bought the naming rights to the downtown ballpark. Secondly, Des Moines still holds the rights to the Cubs AAA franchise through 2012. And finally, we still have to wait to see what happens with the Royals. Do they head south to Texas, leaving Omaha without a AAA franchise to swap with Des Moines?
But let's make on thing clear. If TD Ameritrade does purchase the naming rights to the downtown ballpark, there definitely is an incentive for the Ricketts family to have their AAA baseball team playing in "TD Ameritrade Park" versus Principal Park. Joe Ricketts owns a significant chunk of TD Ameritrade, and is on the board of directors. Pete Ricketts is on the board too. Not to mention the lead Ricketts in the whole Cubs transaction, Tom Ricketts, is yet another Ameritrade board member. It may not make much of a difference to the Cubs finances whose name is on the stadium where the Cubs AAA team, but it sure makes a difference to Ameritrade. And that is where the money for this transaction is coming from, and with three Ricketts on the Ameritrade board, they've got a significant interest in seeing the Cubs in Omaha.
On that same note, Tom Shatel thought he was first in suggesting a Cubs exhibition game in Omaha. Let the record show I proposed it a day before he did.
Kind of a crappy Saturday for the local teams. UNO hockey got pasted at home by Miami after UNO spent most of the first period in the penalty box. Nebraska basketball lost a squeaker at home against Oklahoma State.
But truth be told, UNO fans can thank their lucky stars that former Omaha Lancer Andrew Conboy reneged on his commitment to UNO to go to Michigan State. Conboy's freshman season ended on Saturday night when Conboy and Corey Tropp combined on an assault on Michigan forward Steve Camper. If you think the video was bad, check out what Mvictors.com found on their video. Conboy's season ended after Spartan coach Rick Comley reviewed the tape and suspended Conboy for the rest of the season for his actions.
Update 1/27/09: Andrew Conboy has withdrawn from Michigan State, and University of Michigan police are considering looking into the situation.