Sunday's World-Herald featured an interesting column by Tom Shatel about the Sarpy County ballpark and how it was the best decision for the AAA baseball team. He may very well be correct, from the baseball owner perspective. Most people who talk to me about the team also talk very favorably about the ballpark and their experiences out there.
So does that prove I was wrong about my opposition to the ballpark? Hardly. I get the concept that this works better for the ownership; remember, that's what the Royals were asking for ten years ago. It's what's best for the community as a whole that drives my concern.
one baseball stadium in the metro area would be better than two. Sadly, TD Ameritrade Park is likely closed down until next spring. That's a shame, because as we see during the College World Series (and to a lesser extent when Nebraska is playing baseball there), the environment in North Downtown is prime for more development. Out southwest? Still nothing. Plans for "Pennant Place" continue to sit - and nothing seems to happen out there from a commercial perspective. As Papillion grows, housing developments get closer and closer. Eventually there will be commercial development there, but it'll be because of the houses - not the ballpark.
Shatel does point out that many people have thumbed their noses at the Sarpy County ballpark, proving that I wasn't the only one who thought it was a mistake. And I do see signs that even folks in Sarpy County have second thoughts about all of the money that was sunk into the ballpark - especially when the County has to foot the bill to build more parking and replace a faulty scoreboard.
In the end, I think it comes down to whether or not you believe that the Royals would have stayed in the area if it weren't for the Sarpy County deal. I still believe that they would have stayed - albeit with some different managing partners. I don't believe that the Gary Green/Alan Stein/Martie Cordaro organization would have stayed, but I believe the AAA franchise would have, because prior to the construction of the new ballpark, they were only half-owners of the franchise. Warren Buffet and Walter Scott owned the other half, and repeatedly said that their investment was intended to keep the franchise in Omaha. And frankly, I don't see how they would have approved any sort of move.
It's not "cheering for failure"...just observing that it would have been cooler to maximize the use of one stadium for the benefit of the community rather than investing in two stadiums with less of a reward.