Monday, October 19, 2015

Sports teams

By Andy Cunningham

Sports teams are major parts of most cities, but do they help the city economically? Most stadiums that are built nowadays are publicly funded and according to some people don’t really help the economy that much. When attempting to bring in a new team, or build a new stadium there is a promise of new jobs and more money but how well do these promises hold up over time. Recently there have been talks of bringing an NFL team to Los Angeles, and people are projecting that it will generate $800 million dollars a year but a lot of people are suspicious of this total. “A good rule of thumb that economists use is to take what stadium boosters are telling you and move that one decimal place to the left, and that’s usually a good estimate of what you’re going to get,” Victor Matheson, a sports economist at College of the Holy Cross, says.  Since sporting events and really any live entertainment event is getting more and more expensive, new stadiums tend to repel people away because most people do not want to spend that much money.1 One of the biggest impact new stadiums have is creating jobs, at least for construction workers. When the Minnesota Vikings were proposing their new stadium they estimated that there would be over 7,500 construction jobs created over the three year building period, with over more than 3,000 part time and full time jobs once the stadium is completed. The analysis by the Conventions, Sports and Leisure, International estimate that there will be $26 million dollars a year in tax revenue, and over $145 million in direct spending by Vikings fans in Minnesota.2
Having a sports team nearby can be fun, but if there’s nothing around a stadium is there anything that can attract people to an area without needing to spend $50 on a ticket and then an extra $50 on food and drink once they are inside? What if there was a place near the stadium where people could get as close to the arena atmosphere without being there for less money? St. Louis has a place like this called Ball Park Village next to where the St. Louis Cardinals play baseball. Ball Park Village is a multi-use development that houses multiple restaurants and bars, as well as featuring large projection screens so that guest can watch the game surrounded by thousands of other fans like they were in the stadium. According to the economic impact report done by the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center, once Ball Park Village is complete there will be a steady increase in state gross product, as well as an increase in jobs created for the area.3 Places like this can benefit and area because this type of place can be opened year round making money instead of just being used when there is a game or a concert. A multi-use space like Ball Park Village is also capable of attracting people to the area who don’t live in the area. Forty percent of people who come to Cardinals games come from outside of Missouri, so, it's expected Ballpark Village will draw visitors who live as long as a four hour drive from here.4 What happens during the winter when it’s not baseball season? Baseball can’t be played year round so instead of attracting people to baseball games St. Louis has a hockey team whose home is just a couple blocks from where Ball Park Village stands, and there would be the same effect that it has on baseball games especially since hockey tickets are becoming more and more expensive.
            This project proposes building a multi-use development outside of the United Center in the Near West Side of Chicago. The United Center is the home of the Chicago Blackhawks (NHL), and Chicago Bulls (NBA), as well as multiple other concerts and events throughout the year. One Problem with the United Center is there is not much around it so most people who go to that area are just going to see whatever event they are seeing and then they leave. This project will be able to keep some of those who come to the area there longer because it gives them a place to go. This project will also give more people a reason to go there and be with friends and other fans of whatever they’re watching. The near west Side is an easily accessible place with multiple train stops throughout the area as well as bus stops. If this project is able to draw more people into the area and bring in more money to the area there will be a lot of people who can benefit people from it. This Project will basically work opposite of the way Ball Park Village does in St. Louis. Since basketball and hockey are winter sports, the majority of the business will take place between October and June, but when those sports are out of season baseball is in season and this area is a good ways away from both U.S. Cellular field where the White Sox play, and Wrigley Field, where the Cubs play, so it would be an option to go watch the games here.  
            Looking at area demographics and crime is a big thing to look at when building within a city, especially with all the violence that has been going on in Chicago over the last couple years. The near west ranks 29th among the 77 Chicago community areas in violent crimes over the last 30 days, 3rd in property crimes, and 28th in quality of life crimes.5 While the near west side may not look to be the safest area in Chicago, it is also a very large area and some of these crimes may not take place in the area surrounding the United Center. Even then by bringing in more people, jobs and money to the area hopefully the area will start to improve.



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