Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Fahey Faces Ballpark Opposition

via the OWH, Omaha Mayor Mike Fahey had the last of his three public forums on the proposed new downtown baseball park and had a pretty vocal reception - and not necessarily in a good way. Around 600 citizens attended the event at Westside High, around twice the number attending previous forums on the issue.

A number of citizens have questioned both the cost involved and need for the new facility - particularly at a time when the city is stretched for funds for a number of other issues and still has not paid off previous upgrades to the current home of the College World Series and Omaha Royals, Rosenblatt Stadium.

"During an hourlong question-and-answer period that was interrupted several times by jeers and shouting, residents questioned everything from the financing plan for the proposed $140 million stadium to whether the NCAA would move the College World Series to another city."

The mostly negative response has prompted City Councilman Frank Thompson to announce that if he had to vote on any ballpark measures today, he would likely vote against.

"I felt like there was a 35-65 split against the mayor," Thompson said. "I also felt like the lack of earlier input came back to hurt the mayor tonight."

Fahey and the ballpark study committee have proposed a $140 million field to be constructed just west of the Qwest Convention Center in downtown's newly tabbed "NoDo" district on what are now two Qwest Center parking lots. If approved, the city may be able to maintain its current status as host of the College World Series for as long as 25 years. The current CWS contract is set to expire after the 2010 season. Omaha has hosted the event for the last 58 years.

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