Friday, March 13, 2009

A Stadium Too Far

Warning:  This post contains hazardous levels of Rant.  Readers who have bad reactions to Rant should avoid contact with this post.

I have never been very fond of sports.  We went to an Omaha Royals game last summer and I was underwhelmed by both the game play and the empty bleachers.  I don't mind other people partaking in sporting activities but I do mind them doing it on my nickel.  Before I go on, perhaps some history is needed.

One of the bright spots of Omaha's tourism draw is Rosenblatt Stadium. This 23,145 seat stadium is currently the home of the College World Series (played two weeks every June) and the Omaha Royals (the local farm team for the Kansas City Royals).  The College World Series is pretty good to Omaha - the hotels fill up for those two weeks and a lot of good revenue comes in.  The Omaha Royals attendance has been in a slow decline.

Unfortunately, as with all good things, age takes it toll.  Rosenblatt turns sixty-one this year. So, Omaha, in it's infinite wisdom, is building a new, larger, shiny stadium downtown across from the Qwest Center.  Venerable Rosenblatt will be leveled and will become a new parking lot for the neighboring Henry Doorly Zoo.

This doesn't bother me much as technically I don't live in Omaha.  I live in La Vista in a totally different county (Sarpy county) as Omaha.  If Omaha wants to waste spend money on a new 24,000 seat stadium in the middle of the worst recession since the early 80s, more power to 'em.  Actually, a new stadium near downtown could bring some good money in to revitalize parts of the north downtown area.  I have no major complaints.

Can it get better?  Well, the new stadium would raise the fees the Omaha Royals would have to pay to use the stadium.  The Royals said, nope, we won't pay those fees, oh and by the way, the stadium is too big for us.  Omaha is taking a 'build it and they will come' attitude.  They think (are gambling hoping) that another team can be persuaded to move in.  Uh Huh.  A new stadium for a two week event and maybe some local college teams.  Good luck to 'em.

Can it get worse?  Oh yeah.  When the Royals balked on the higher rent, what did Sarpy county do?  They offered to build the Omaha Royals a new stadium ... yes, another stadium ... in La Vista.  Wha?!?  Are you serious.  $26 Million.  That could be the cost but I wouldn't bet on it being that low.  A 6,000 seat stadium for a AAA ball team who actually said they could draw bigger crowds with a smaller stadium.  Wha?!?  What a load of hooey.  They say they won't raise our taxes.  Yeah ... right.  Load. Of. Crap.  AARRGGHH!!!

So we Nebraskans, who already shoulder one of the nations highest tax burdens, are now building two stadiums.  One for a AAA team with declining attendance, another to house a two week long event.

I think I'm going to be sick.

5 comments:

  1. I totally, totally agree..Two stadiums in a city the size of OmahA....WHAT ARE THEY THINKING.

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  2. FYI - Royals attendance has gone up 3 straight years. Last year was the highest since 2000 at nearly 350,000 after being around 326,000 in '07 and 319,000 in '06.

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  3. Mom: I have no idea.

    Anonymous: Thanks for the correction. While I stand corrected, my opinion of the Sarpy stadium remains the same.

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  4. So, you'll be moving back to California, where nothing is remotely over-priced, then?

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