no place to play in Omaha.
Dead concept for Omaha right? That's what I had concluded.
But...not so fast. Seems the organizers of the USFL have an idea. The Boston Globe reports that the USFL is planning to build stadiums in some markets as part of a larger commercial development:
Now, with a large real estate developer aboard, the league is about to finalize paperwork with its first five franchises, some to be based in new stadia the league will build at a cost as high as $500 million each. Each stadium will have a seating capacity of about 25,000, and in most cases will be part of a larger real estate plan that includes commercial space.Well, that changes things quite a bit. If the USFL is going to build stadiums, suddenly Omaha is more viable than before. Does this make the entire USFL concept viable? I'm still skeptical, but if private owners are willing to make this gamble with their own money in other areas of the country, why not Omaha?
The first five franchises appear to be headed towards Southern California, Austin/San Antonio, Louisiana, Alabama, and Ohio. Omaha is mentioned as another market the USFL is looking at along with Birmingham and Memphis. The USFL is now talking about playing next spring, so if a stadium is going to be built, construction would have to start really soon. That's unlikely, but maybe 2015. The USFL has hired Jim Bailey, a former NFL executive, to run the new league. That's football executive experience, which suggests that this might actually happen.
If private investors want to build a football stadium in the Omaha area with their own money, I view that as a good thing for Omaha. Frankly, it would be an exciting idea if it were to happen. I also have to say that if I had $100 million lying around, I probably wouldn't spend it on a minor league football team and a stadium. But if someone else wanted to do that, and do it without expectations of sizable support from local government, other than permitting, I'm all in favor of it.
Like I said, I'm not sure I believe in the business case nationally, but if someone is going to try to do it, Omaha has proven themselves to be the place to make it happen.