The only surprise to me is how low the overrun is, though it's still early in the process. Two years ago, the going rate for a AAA ballpark was $40 to $50 million, so it's easy to understand how unrealistic the original budget was. Yes, the severe recession has likely lowered costs somewhat, but even if that reduced costs 20%, this stadium would be coming in below the bottom of the usual cost of a stadium.
So how is Sarpy County keeping the costs low? Simple...this stadium is being built as cheaply as possible. Here's the eye-opening quote by Sarpy County attorney Lee Polikov:
Translation: they've already cut just about every extra or nicety in the stadium just to get the original estimate down to $20 million. And now that the cost is up, there isn't much that they can omit or scale back further. Gravel parking perhaps? Remove light towers and require the Royals to play all day games? Skip the sprinkler system and hope it rains? Perhaps negotiate with the City of Omaha to buy one of the old scoreboards from Rosenblatt?
“We are not building a practice facility. We still need to have a first base, a second base, a third base. Bathrooms. Walls to go over for home runs. There is only so much you can cut.”
Oh...and that other stadium downtown? It's coming in on schedule and on budget.