Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Sarpy Boondoggle Announcement Misses Key Details

Details keep trickling out about the Sarpy County ballpark and the proposed agreement with the Omaha Royals, but the key details continue to be omitted. Today's news is that the Royals and Sarpy County have agreed to a 25 year deal, but the key information still isn't known.
  • How much is it going to cost?
  • How is Sarpy County going to pay for this?
  • Where is it going to be built?
So let's get this straight. We don't know where. We don't know how much, or how it's going to be paid for. Yet they can say there is a 25 year deal?

It's not difficult to understand why the exact location hasn't been announced. Negotiations are still underway, and it's probably safe to bet that the Royals and Sarpy County have a pretty good idea where it's going to go. Until those negotiations are finalized, no announcement is going to be made. WOWT reports that the most likely locations are by Cabela's (previously destined for office space, though the economic downturn may have put those plans on hold) and along highway 370 south of Papillion.

The Chalco location by Cabela's already has it's own issues, even if it's available again. The Papillion location would be a dismal failure for the entire metro area, as very few people from Douglas County will want to take the time to drive down 72nd or 84th Street to get to the ball park.

But why not start disclosing the price and how this ballpark is going to be paid for? Talk that the ballpark is somehow a "done deal" without those details is, well, simply crazy. When those seemingly minor details get announced, is it going to be dependent on asking the state legislature to pay for it? How much will property taxes go up?

The great thing about these continuing little announcements is that they seem to build up momentum in favor of the project, without providing anything of substance to criticize. So until details actually start to emerge, this remains a boondoggle.

If Sarpy does manage to pull this off, it'll be a very disappointing day for the city of Omaha. MECA's failure to land a deal with the Royals last summer reflects badly on that organization and the people associated with it. It means the downtown stadium won't be properly utilized, and the chances of upgrading Omaha's AAA affiliation diminish, if not completely disappear.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

MECA has to eat this failure if it comes to pass. They were the ones who tried to "high hand" the negotiations with the Royals last summer that caused them to lose that potential tenant. Their responses of lower class baseball as an alternative is a non-starter. Basically, the MECA board has turned the downtown stadium into a structure that will be used 2 weeks a year for the CWS and then again for the occasional tractor pull.

Sarpy needs to build that stadium closer to Hwy 50 interchange so that more of west Omaha can easily get to the stadium. Drop that on the SW corner of Hwy 50 and I80 or a mile south of that intersection and you have east millard coming in through Harrison St or L street, you have real midtown (114 to 132nd street, Center to Blondo) coming in via I680, and you have west Omaha and Millard coming in via Hwy 50 (144th st for you Noobs.)

You are correct about the So 370 location, too far south and too many traffic restrictions. You would also run afoul of Offutt when the Royals want to shoot off fireworks as you would be under their glidepath.