Balls and strikes on baseball impact
Pardon me, but I'm going to turn a double-play on an interview I did a few weeks ago.
I spoke with Chris Leinberger, a land use strategist, teacher, developer, researcher and author, regarding a story that ran Friday on York’s Northwest Triangle. I’ll let you read the story, but the short of it is that things are happening with the redevelopment project on the banks of the Mighty Codorus.
They’re just happening slowly.
But Leinberger went out into left field for a minute when talking about walkable-urban communities and how York’s focus on redeveloping the former industrial properties is key to the overall puzzle that is revitalization.
We got to talking about how the York Revolution and Santader Stadium are a key anchor in the plan.
“Arenas and baseball stadiums belong downtown,” he said.
Now, I’m a good Baltimoron and cheer for the Orioles, which has its venerable home field just outside downtown Charm City. So, I asked Leinberger, a resident of Dupont Circle in Washington, D.C., to elaborate.
“Baseball stadiums perform better downtown,” he said. “They have better attendance, and you don’t have to build as much parking.”
“Most of the games are played at night and on weekends, so all the office parking is available.”
“There’s also more economic development around the stadium,” he said. “If (the stadium is) out in the suburbs, you have to be a real baseball nut to go. But if it’s downtown, it becomes an evening out.”
On the surface, that makes sense. But a few places that have run the numbers aren’t finding very many positives. Journal of Sports Economics looks at the topic in “Economic impact of stadiums and teams: The case of minor-league baseball,” a digest of which can be found at Journalist’s Resource.
A key finding: “Overall, there were no significant negative income effects associated with any team or stadium type. In other words, where the measurable impact was not positive, it was neutral and not statistically significant.”
Another key finding: “No significant effect was found for the introduction of a Double-A, Single-A, Low-A, rookie league, or independent league team. Similarly, no significant effect was found for a new Triple-A, High-A, Single-A, Low-A or independent league stadium.”
(The Revs are a member of the independent Atlantic League of Professional Baseball.)
But the study, which is already three years old, doesn’t take into account something that Leinberger has spent his time touting: The market is being driven by millennials, and millennials are demanding communities that are walkable-urban, meaning places that already have a gridwork of streets and amenities like bars, restaurants, shops and parks. Entertainment venues, like a baseball stadium, would help there, too.
He mentioned an upcoming study from the Brookings Institute (for whom he works) that shows a high correlation between walkable-urban metros and the gross domestic product of the metro.
“If you look at the top two, three, four metros that are the most walkable, it’s a 2-to-1 ratio as far as per capita gross domestic product,” he said. “That’s similar to first world vs. second world as far as the gap between economic productivity.”
So, maybe the game is changing. The old team would hop in the minivan and head out to the big box store, surrounded by a sea of parking, in the ‘burbs. The new team at bat likes small, locally owned shops to which they can walk.
I have a new office in York.
When I took over this job back in February, I was “working from the wind.” But now, I have a place at CoWork155, at 155 W. Market St. downtown.
It gives me what I need: A roof, a desk, an electrical outlet, Wi-Fi, smart office mates and a quiet place to make a phone call when I need it.
You can learn more about the setup here.
In the meantime, the group is marking its first anniversary as part of York’s monthly First Friday event this Friday. If you’re around, stop by.