In 2010, the Omaha Royals will play their 42nd and final season at Rosenblatt Stadium. Where they end up after that is anybody's guess.
The O-Royals are in a unique position in that they share their city's baseball spotlight with the College World Series, which has taken place at Rosenblatt Stadium since 1950. But the venerable facility is slated for demolition after the 2010 season, and after that the series will be played at a new ballpark in downtown Omaha.
Team president Alan Stein has recently been in talks with city authorities regarding the feasibility of sharing the new ballpark with the College World Series or having a separate venue built. Today, the club announced that it would be looking into other options.
"We have to do what is best for the Omaha Royals, our fans and our shareholders," Stein said in a press release. "And while we continue to keep all options open...we need to explore, more aggressively, other opportunities."
As a Triple-A ballclub with 72 home dates a year, the O-Royals' primary desire is to play in an intimate and autonomous environment. This would be at odds with the new downtown stadium, which is slated to have a capacity of 30,000 in order to accommodate large College World Series crowds.
"The city of Omaha has negotiated in good faith, but right now we have a timeline staring us in the face," elaborated O-Royals GM Martie Cordaro. "Playing in a downtown stadium is still a possibility, but that possibility is shrinking each day. But first and foremost, our priority remains keeping affiliated ball in the Omaha area."
One such option would be to relocate to nearby Sarpy County, a growing suburban area with a population of 125,000 located just south of Omaha.
"Right now [the county] is doing a feasibility study, and the results are due on Labor Day," Cordaro said. "So I imagine in the near future we'll know more about that."
Cordaro also acknowledges the possibility that the club could move out of the Omaha market completely.
"Anything's possible, but, again, we are going to do everything we can to remain in the Omaha area," he said.
One thing is clear, however, and that is that the club has high expectations for their next home.
"Wherever we land, we need to be in a stadium that puts Minor League Baseball fans first," Cordaro said. "To do that, we need to control the facility from an operating and scheduling standpoint and offer amenities that are second to none. The goal is to provide the best fan experience that we possibly can."
Benjamin Hill is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.