A Tuesday court ruling in favor of the operator of TD Ameritrade Park could help clear the way for a professional baseball team to be based at the park.
The Nebraska Court of Appeals ruled that the Metropolitan Entertainment and Convention Authority did not breach a contract when it decided against allowing Fast Ball Sports LLC to field an independent professional team at the park.
That means that MECA will not be forced to allow Fast Ball Sports to bring the proposed team, the Omaha Flame, to the downtown ballpark.
The ruling helps remove one obstacle to bringing a different pro team to the park, said the president and CEO of the authority.
With the lawsuit still in litigation, other entities had been hesitant to begin talking about creating another Omaha team, said Roger Dixon.
“There was just no one out there at that point that was interested,” he said.
He said the authority still hopes to bring a professional team to the park, which was built in 2011.
“All we can do is hope they'll follow through,” he said.
Fast Ball Sports had been in talks with the authority to bring a team to TD Ameritrade. But authority officials eventually broke off the talks, citing the instability of the proposed team's league and the lack of local investors.
Fast Ball Sports sued the authority in 2011, saying Dixon had led its officials to believe that a lease was a “done deal.” But a contract was never signed with Fast Ball Sports, and the authority's board never approved an agreement.
Last year, a Douglas County District Court judge ruled in the authority's favor, saying the organization hadn't breached a contract. The appellate court upheld the district court judge's decision Tuesday.
Fast Ball officials could appeal further. Their lawyer did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment.
Dixon said the ruling doesn't guarantee a TD Ameritrade Park-based professional baseball team anytime soon. First, discussions would have to resume or start fresh. Any team that came in would be competing for attention with the Storm Chasers, who play at Werner Park in Sarpy County.
“It's going to be someone that has to really market it hard, but I think there's entities out there that could do it,” Dixon said.