New ballparks motivating teams and cities for success

By Dallas Cook
Star Staff

With the recent rise in new baseball stadiums around the major leagues and more to be built in the next few years, many owners are seeing their teams experience success when playing in a new environment.
   Four of this year's post-season teams who received new ballparks recently have made their way to the playoffs which include Seattle, Atlanta, Arizona and Houston. Also within past years six of the seven teams who have made the playoffs did it within two years of the opening of their respected stadiums.
   Why have such teams like these become so competitive recently? INCREASED REVENUE. Along with a new stadium comes things such as higher ticket prices, skyboxes, improvement in concession stands, better seating and stadium advertising and this helps the general managers and owners to be able to suit up a more competitive team.
   "People enjoy coming to the ballpark," said Brian Kearney (Downtown Phoenix Partnership). "The like the environment of the urban area and that has helped us draw additional fans to the ballpark. The players enjoy it because it's right in the middle of the city and it creates a festive atmosphere and a good atmosphere for them to play in."
   The Arizona Diamondbacks are one team that has taken in the success due to a new ballpark. Bank One Ballpark in Downtown Phoenix has brought not only a successful team to the city, but also more revenue that has benefited the city as a whole.
   "The Bank One Ballpark has had a tremendous impact on the downtown Phoenix area," said Kearney. "We've seen sales tax rise 36% since the ballpark has opened. A current number of street level restaurants, sports bars and businesses of that nature have opened and created a more attractive street environment."
   "It has also created an investment environment that is extremely positive," Kearney said. "Their are major projects such as major offices and large housing that have occurred not fully because the ballpark is there, but because the ballpark has contributed to a sense of confidence in the downtown area."
   What do these new stadiums bring to the game. Well some would say that it's easier to get into and exit the ballpark and others might say that the seating for the fans has brought them closer to the action. The idea of the retractable roof is also another attribute that has helped teams such as Houston, Seattle and Toronto; this has cut down on rain-outs and helps to keep things going as scheduled. The New York Mets new stadium is also planned to have a retractable roof while the design for Yankees new ballpark is still in discussion. However, these new stadiums for the New York teams could come to a slight halt due to the terrorist attacks about a month ago.
   "Attendance has also been another key quality to the uprising of new stadiums because everyone once to get in and see what the new facilities look like," said Deborah Decorsy (Public Relations for GBBN Architects in Cincinnati). "Ticket sales nearly doubled for teams like Cleveland, Colorado and Baltimore when their stadiums opened up and have kept a quality average for attendance each year since.
   Some other teams that will be receiving new stadiums are Cincinnati, San Diego, Montreal, Florida, Philadelphia, Minnesota, Boston, and both teams in New York.
   The Cincinnati Reds will open their new stadium, The Great American Ballpark, in April of 2003 with the style of the field being an open air environment. It will have a capacity of 42,036 and the cost of the project will run approximately $297 millions dollars. Work is currently underway as they have removed part of the section in left field of the present Cinergy field and construction is moving steadily to have the field done by the deadline.
   "The plans for the stadium are coming along fine," said DeCorsy . "Construction is underway and on schedule for completion on opening day in 2003."
   "Last year we seen the opening of Paul Brown Stadium (Home of the Cincinnati Bengals) and the missing link was the Great American Ballpark," DeCorsy said. "We think it will certainly provide another jewel in our crown."