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.

Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Follow up: arenas and stadiums as "performing arts centers" attractions for cities: experience versus retail

A couple weeks ago I wrote "Good quote on arenas and stadiums as "performing arts centers" attractions for cities," quoting Ron Kirk then Dallas mayor, on the decision to go forward in building a basketball arena in the late 1990s for the Dallas Mavericks.  

He was very clear about the point of the arena being developing the area around the arena, which has resulted in over $3 billion in new development over about 25 years.  That's pretty amazing.

This relates to my lesson about such facilities.  That if you want spillover benefits, you have to plan for them, what I call "transformational projects action planning."

-- "Framework of characteristics that support successful community development in association with the development of professional sports facilities, 2021

-- "Updating the best practice elements of revitalization to include elements 7 and 8 | Transformational Projects Action Planning at a large scale," 2024

2.  I also wrote recently in "Suburban stadium/arena interest a function of new, younger generations of ownership or a better real estate play?," about the desire for team owners to control more land around the stadium or arena, which they can develop for greater profit.

My problem with this is that it gives them a monopoly on earnings, rather than opening up the potential for other firms to benefit from the likely investment of public monies in such sites.

Battery District.

3.  There is a great article in the Philadelphia Inquirer, "Stadium entertainment districts — such as the one proposed in South Philly — are changing the game for fans around the country," about this phenomenon and reading it, it's great for teams--for example, the Atlanta Braves make $59 million per year in lease and other income from the Battery development next to their stadium.

It's also another lesson about planning and development.  As commercial districts shift to what I sometimes call "eater-tainment" ("Successful retail today often includes food, experiences, social elements, and isn't rote," 2016), the reality is that when going to a sports event, consumers aren't interested in shopping at retailers--unless they sell team merchandise exclusively--they want experiences.  From the article:

These mixed-use developments help provide a hedge at a moment when the dominance of American sports programming faces new competition, from such entertainment as video games and on-demand TV, and when fan behavior can be unpredictable. Last year’s World Series between the Texas Rangers and Arizona Diamondbacks was the least-watched on record. .

.. Of course, that’s not why most people go to the Battery. They go to ride the mechanical bull at PBR Atlanta, the bar brand of the Professional Bull Riders league, billed as the toughest sport on dirt.  They play in the Sandbox virtual-reality center and browse through the unique designs at Baseballism, a fan shop. 

"PBR Atlanta opens near Suntrust Park: 7 things to know about Battery Atlanta’s “cowboy bar”," Atlanta Journal-Constitution

“It’s more than just a baseball day experience,” said Winston Parrish, a Braves fan who with his father, Dwight, came from Asheville, N.C., to the Phillies’ opening day game. “You’re able to get a hotel right there in the Battery, and walk from your hotel to the game.” 

When Dwight Parrish attended baseball games as a boy in the 1960s and 1970s, the focus was on seeing star players and snacking on Cracker Jack. “Today, it’s a different thing,” he said. “It’s all about the kids. It’s all about the family experience. It’s awesome.”

Note that support of other businesses making money of patrons is a primary justification for public investment.

4, Retail consumerism now is more purposive, special directed trips.  It's not the kind of "mixed primary use" attraction that Jane Jacobs wrote about where people will shop, eat, then go see a movie.  Plus the effect of online commerce, which significantly reduces in person shopping.

In short, if you are a businessperson wanting to open a business by a stadium or arena or a development like the Navy Yard or Wharf districts in DC, focus on eating, drinking (tough because a lot of the time events are scheduled at times that discourage patrons from eating outside of the facility) and experience.


P.S.  Looks like the Phoenix Coyotes are coming to Salt Lake ("Did Ryan Smith just confirm the NHL is coming to Utah?," Deseret News).  

I've written about why does the NHL continue to support the Coyotes when they are unsuccessful ("Revisiting "Framework of characteristics that support successful community development in association with the development of professional sports facilities" and the Tampa Bay Rays baseball team + Phoenix Coyotes hockey," 2022).

OTOH, while the "Good quote" article argues that Salt Lake doesn't really have the market size to justify more teams, I guess when a billionaire wants a team and there is a super-weak one out there, it presents opportunity.

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At 12:39 PM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

The first act of the proposed development around the Phillies Stadium and Wells Fargo Center is building a 6,000 seat concert venue. The article discusses this trend and lists similar facilities across the country.


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