Thursday, February 9, 2012

The stadium debate

Are football stadiums good for cities?  Recently Matthew Yglesias and The Urbanophile have posed competing arguments.  First, the Urbanophile argues based on the experience of Indianapolis that putting a football stadium in Indianapolis was a positive that contributed to the city's growth and prominence.

Why do I think the Indy sports strategy was such a good one? Two reason: it was a good strategic area to go after, and it was backed up with very intelligent execution.

A timely counter argument by Matthew Yglesias is worth considering.

But sentimental issues aside there's a very good reasons not to locate a professional football team in a major city center—the NFL season doesn't involve very many games. Over nine days out of 10, an NFL stadium is just a big empty space surrounded by parking facilities that are also empty.

So which argument is correct? A good case study to examine might be Detroit, which has experienced all three phases.  The Lions played in Detroit, sharing space with the Tigers.  Later they relocated to the suburbs, playing in the Pontiac Silverdome.  Recently they relocated back to Detroit, playing in Ford Field.

Honestly at a cursory level I cannot find one argument being more meritorious than the other without more research.  Any additional reading on this subject would be interesting, though despite any arguments I hope the Bears continue to play in Soldier Field forever.

1 comment:

  1. There's a surprisingly large volume of literature out there on the economic impact of sports stadiums on surrounding areas and cities as a whole, with most of it appearing to conclude that the effects are either negative or a wash. Some sources say the benefits, if any, accrue only when the stadium is located downtown (not sure whether that holds for a football stadium, though).

    The linked 2005 study mentions how "Cleveland and Indianapolis benefited from their early investment in downtown sports facilities, while Cincinnati and Columbus have continued to struggle," yet if you look at the 2010 census data, Indianapolis had a miserable decade for downtown population growth, worse than most comparable cities, while Cincinnati's (new stadiums in 2000 and 2003) numbers look somewhat better, with growth over a larger downtown area (as do Columbus', with NHL arena in '98). Does the impact of new stadiums fades over time? There are not a lot of clear answers in this area.