The 2016 home season for Minor League Baseball’s Hartford Yard Goats in Hartford is over before the first pitch was ever thrown. The ballpark has been padlocked by the city and now an insurance company will have to figure out what company will finish the construction as DoNo Hartford and CenterPlan have been relieved of their duties developing a ballpark. However, Centerplan is still the builder of record for the planned village part of the project that would include among other things, a hotel with restaurants and a grocery store surrounding the ballpark.
Hartford has about $60 million committed to the entire project. The ballpark-village was supposed to be an economic engine in an area of the city that needed major help. The problem with stadium or arena village is that for the most part they are public policy failures. Unfortunately, politicians fall for developers’ lines saying that the ballpark and or an arena will be the central part of a plan and wait until you see what will go around the facility–it is great, it’s terrific, it’s the best.
Politicians are mesmerized by sports, even on a minor league level, but it takes money to build stadiums and arenas with all the money making gadgets that owners want. Politicians seemingly ignore example after example of failure and will point to Baltimore as an example of how an old downtown area was revitalized with a baseball park. How they forget the fact that Baltimore’s Inner Harbor project was planned without a baseball park and a football stadium is a good question.
The stadiums have been great for Orioles ownership and even for Art Modell who moved his NFL Cleveland Browns to Baltimore. However when looking at the overall picture, the teams and stadiums did not act as an economic generator in Baltimore although Camden Yards is viewed as an ideal sports facility project. The Hartford ballpark will eventually be finished, but no one should expect a Hartford economic juggernaut because of a stadium.
By Evan Weiner for The Politics of Sports Business.
This article was republished with permission from the original publisher, Evan Weiner.