Sunday, March 29, 2009

Sarpy Family Feud Explained...and MECA Pipes In As Well

Today's World-Herald features a couple of interesting articles with background information on the ongoing feud between Sarpy County and the cities of Sarpy County, as well as MECA's reaction to criticism of their dealings with the Royals.

The conflict between the County Board and Bellevue, LaVista, Papillion, Gretna, and Springfield boils down to one issue: who controls the growth and development within Sarpy County. The cities want growth to progress from the cities, and be managed by them. The county wants that control instead. In that respect, the issue of whether the state legislature funds a baseball stadium in Sarpy County really is secondary to the larger issue. Before this issue came up, I figured the biggest opposition to the funding bills would come from Omaha. Now this curveball essentially scuttles any hopes of getting these bills passed until the cities and the county can come to some sort of resolution on this matter. Which means, plan B, for all practical purposes, is now the path to a stadium. That will entail inheritance taxes, hotel taxes, and keno revenue. Problem with that is all those funds are currently used elsewhere in the budget. So does Sarpy County raise other taxes, or cut operations to fund the ballpark? That remains to be seen.

MECA came out and stated in a letter to the World-Herald that they offered the Royals a deal where the Royals would receive all net revenues from their games:
"Shortly after taking control of the Omaha baseball stadium, MECA offered the Royals an opportunity to play at a break-even cost to MECA and the city.

The Royals were not asked to pay any construction costs of the new downtown stadium, only the per-game operating costs of the facility. The Royals would have kept ticket revenue, advertising revenue and profits from concessions."
One item not mentioned here is parking. Originally, it was assumed that the Royals resisted the idea of paid parking, but now that parking revenues are part of the deal in Sarpy County, it turns out the issue revolved more around who receives those revenues.

But why bring this up? Here's my theory. The Royals/Sarpy County deal is not really a done deal yet, as there are still too many questions about how Sarpy County will pay for it. Sarpy County still has two months to change their mind and back out of the deal, and MECA is playing their cards now in public. Look for this issue to also start to come into the Omaha Mayoral election, once it becomes clear that the Sarpy County deal isn't as solid as some people want you to believe.

With apologies to Monty Python: downtown is saying "I'm not dead yet!"

1 comment:

nick said...

In 2007, minor league baseball had another record-setting year, drawing more than 43 million fans Omahans Warren Buffett and Walter Scott still own 25 percent each in the team. So they have some pull – that is, if they want to keep the team in Omaha. The remaining 50 percent of ownership is held by Power Alley (majority owner is Bill Shea; minority owner is Alan Stein), which took over the team in 2006.

Ivy Walls manages the Omaha Royals for Power Alley, with Stein as the team president. (Ivy Walls also manages the Lexington Legends).