Revisiting the characteristics that shape the success of a stadium-arena for a locality
An arena subsidy project I'd probably favor: Sacramento," lays out a framework for determining what factors make a difference in terms of a city/county benefiting, or not, from a stadium or arena. The factors:
Characteristics that support successful ancillary development associated with professional sports facilities:
- isolation or connection: how well is the facility integrated into the urban fabric beyond the stadium site and does it leverage, build upon, and extend the location and the community around it;
- size of the facility (baseball, football, basketball, hockey, soccer), bigger stadiums--football stadiums specifically--are harder to integrate in the urban fabric;
- frequency of events held by the primary tenant--baseball has 82 home games/year, football about 10 including pre-season, basketball and hockey have 41, soccer about 17--so football stadiums are very rarely used (according to the Chicago Sun-Times article "Emanuel mulling 5,000-seat expansion to Soldier Field," the facility holds about 22 events including annually, 12 non-football events);
- how many teams use the facility, maximizing use and utility of the building--for example, Verizon Center in DC is used by professional men's and women's basketball, hockey, and one college basketball team for more than 100 sports events each year;
- are events scheduled in a manner that facilitates attendee patronage of off-site businesses--a business isn't an anchor if it aims to not share its customers; the earlier events are scheduled, the harder it is to patronize retailers and restaurants located off-site, at night during the week, there is limited post-game spending as well, on the weekends it's a different story with more opportunity to patronize off-site establishments--teams manipulate scheduling to reduce spending outside of their on-site and 100% controlled facilities;
- use of the facility for non-game events drawing additional patrons--such as concerts and other types of programming; and
- how people travel to events: automobiles vs. transit--if automobiles are the primary way people get to events, then large amounts of parking usually in surface lots needs to be provided, making it difficult to foster ancillary development because of lack of land and poor quality of the visual environment, whereas if transit is the primary mode, then more land around a facility can be developed in ways that leverage the proximity of the arena.
The blog entry mentioned Barclays Arena and the increase in use of the LIRR for events, but didn't have numbers for any increase in subway usage, which apparently has increased as well, to the tune of 63%.
[Since the developers have just sold a huge stake in the project to Chinese interests to fund the construction of the housing phases, transit ridership will increase further as more than 2,500 housing units are added to the area ("With Brooklyn's Barclays Center, Builder Takes Global Stage," Wall Street Journal).]
Transit access and a metropolitan area that uses transit are key factors in reducing negative congestion effects from stadium-arena siting decisions. Interestingly, the Atlanta Braves just chose to move to a suburban location in with no significant transit connections ("The Driver Behind Public Transit's Transformation in Atlanta," Governing Magazine; "Cobb approves transit study for area around Braves stadium," Atlanta Journal-Constitution).
The AJC article discusses how Cobb County has commissioned a transit study for a circulator bus service to connect the stadium to area parking lots. It's a shame that federal transportation dollars are spent to support this kind of sprawl.
One of the weaknesses in transportation planning is that there aren't master requirements on metropolitan transportation and land use planning authorities that direct uses that generate many transportation trips to locations that can satisfy demand with existing infrastructure, and/or transit infrastructure. That's how transportation planning is done in the Netherlands. A stadium wouldn't be allowed to locate in a location without significant transit resources, or without a commitment to ensure that such infrastructure is provided before the facility opens.