Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Friday, July 01, 2011

Another example that plans and mitigation programming are likely to work better than expecting trickle down development to work magic: sports events

Today's Wall Street Journal has an article, "New Stadiums Foul Out With Merchants," stating that there are limited benefits to local merchants from New York City's new stadiums for the Yankees and the Mets. (Via the Housing Complex blog at the Washington City Paper.)

I am pretty sure I wrote about this issue with regard to the Yankees awhile back. First, the new entrances for the stadium obviously aren't placed near the old entrances, where the extant businesses are located. So most businesses will lose out in favor of new locations. Similarly, the same results from changes in the location of the transit stations.

There are two major issues with sports stadiums and arenas as economic generators for adjacent businesses.

First, generally there are no substantive plans to link local businesses with the potential access to stadium patrons generally. It's not enough for trickle down, you really have to work at it to make it happen.

The same kind of planning with regard to mitigation that I discussed below in another entry needs to happen to fully leverage the potential economic benefit for local businesses (which generally is significantly overstated).

This is true of all stadiums, arenas, and convention centers.

There is a good book about this with regard to Wrigley Field, It's Hardly Sportin': Stadiums, Neighborhoods and the New Chicago. From a review:

Spirou and Bennett examine two assertions made in favor of urban sports arenas in particular. The first is that new stadiums provide a significant economic stimulus to a city's economy. On balance, they find that this assertion is not accurate. ...

Their other major point is that the often-made claim that sports venues strengthen the neighborhood in which they are located is also dubious.

Second, over the last 20 years the business model for professional teams has changed significantly. Where before they were less concerned about maximizing the capture of all of the money spent by a game attendee in association with their attendance of an game, that is no longer the case today, where they work to capture as much as 100% of total spending.

That leaves no money on the table for nearby nonaffiliated businesses selling food, drink, or other items.

One of the ways this is done is by scheduling event times in a way that makes patronizing businesses not located within the stadium-arena complex very difficult, such as having games scheduled close to "quitting time" at work so rather than stop off and eat before entering the stadium, people go directly to the stadium-arena and eat there. To support this type of behavior, stadiums have vastly expanded the quality and array of their food offerings, etc.

Another example is to limit people going elsewhere, stadiums like that of the Washington Redskins work with local jurisdictions to put restrictions on nonaffiliated businesses from offering parking to game patrons, etc., which makes patronizing other businesses more unlikely. Etc.

Since these stadiums and arenas are usually built with significant public investment-financial assistance, I argue that there should be documents as part of the contract providing grounds and parameters for the support of local businesses in association with attendance at local events.

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