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Agreement reached on new O-Royals ballpark

The Sarpy County Board must approve the plans for a new Omaha Royals ballpark, but there is a tentative agreement in place — though the details still need to be revealed.
A negotiator for Sarpy County in suburban Omaha and the ownership of the Omaha Royals (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League) have reached an agreement on a 25-year lease for a new ballpark, subject to approval by the full board.

Details of the agreement are still sketchy — negotiator Kermit Brashear isn’t talking specifics yet, and neither are the Royals — but the broad strokes of the deal calls for a $40-million, 6,500-seat ballpark to be built using various forms of tax-increment financing authorized by the Nebraska Legislature, as well as money from the Royals. No property-tax revenues will be used to pay off bonds issued for ballpark construction.

The actual price of the new ballpark will be determined after it is let for bid, and Brashear says the actual cost could be closer to $26 million, although we assume that figure does not include land costs and perhaps some other infrastructure costs, as the ballpark is planned to be part of a larger development generating tax revenues that will be paying for the ballpark. And we are guessing the precise amount the O-Royals will contribute is based on the final price of the ballpark.

The Omaha Royals will be left without a home after a new College World Series ballpark opens in downtown Omaha in 2011, as the team’s current home, Johnny Rosenblatt Stadium is slated to be torn down. After the Royals and the city board overseeing the new ballpark couldn’t come to an adequate financial agreement on rent and revenue streams, the Royals had asked for and received permission to negotiate a move to another market.  In the end the offer of a Sarpy County ballpark was too good for the Royals to leave.

If the Sarpy County ballpark becomes a reality — and despite the announcement of a deal, there sitll are a few ways the agreement could collapse — then the next question will be whether the independent American Association goes through with its plan to place a team in downtown Omaha. We don’t think so; a few AA owners have told us plans to put a team in Omaha were contingent on the O-Royals leaving the market.

RELATED STORIES: O-Royals, Sarpy County on verge of signing ballpark deal

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