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CPBJ Extra Blog

An example of what not to do in economic development

By - Last modified: January 28, 2013 at 9:41 AM
Brent Burkey
Brent Burkey

Hindsight is 20/20, but some of the problems with having a minor league hockey team play in an outdoor venue should have been obvious.

Well, let me clarify: Having a minor league hockey team play outdoors in winter.

From the Associated Press by way of

"Organizers had called the (Williamsport) Outlaws the first modern pro hockey team in North America to play its entire home schedule outside. The Outlaws skated on a regulation rink built atop Bowman Field, the oldest minor league ballpark in Pennsylvania and home of the Single-A Williamsport Crosscutters, a Phillies affiliate."

Sure, players are skating around on the ice to stay warm. But the fans would be frozen in their seats – if they decided to come out at all. This isn't the Super Bowl, after all.

The first game netted more than 3,400 spectators. But it was warm out. Attendance plummeted with the temperatures going into winter.

But then again, what's the harm if some team wants to come in and use a baseball field when they aren't playing baseball? Well, that's the point here. You need to have your eyes wide open in these situations.

The city's dealing with more than 36,000 downsides at the moment.

From the local Williamsport Sun-Gazette:

"At least temporarily, the city has been stuck with utility bills of $36,000-plus that the defunct Williamsport Outlaws hockey team and a nonprofit organization that operated Airmen Pond at Bowman Field owe and haven't paid in several months."

Every city out there is trying to figure out new and innovative ways to bring in more business. I bet it's hard to turn down a venture with an interesting idea. But, you still need to keep your eyes wide open and your bases covered.

In this case, it means not covering your bases with ice.

Brent Burkey covers retail, tourism, and Lebanon and York counties. Have a tip or question for him? Email him at You can also follow him on Twitter, @brentburkey.

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