The Secrets to Stadium Success

Eric Jaffe looks to a new study published in the <em>Journal of Urbanism</em> comparing the triumphs and failures of new baseball fields in Denver and Phoenix for lessons on how to build a successful downtown stadium.
March 29, 2012, 8am PDT | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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A new study by Arizona State researchers Stephen Buckman and Elizabeth A. Mack analyses the reasons why Coors Field, which opened in downtown Denver in 1995, hit a home run with the local economy and downtown redevelopment, while Chase Field, which opened in downtown Phoenix in 1998, struck out, despite being modeled on Coors.

According to Jaffe, "That Coors and Chase Fields had diverging fates is no accident but rather the result of poor planning...Phoenix's attempt to copy Denver's success shows that sports stadiums are not a one-size-fits-all solution to downtown redevelopment efforts."

Buckman and Mack's study demonstrates that historic growth patterns of the city and the existing population density in proximity to the stadium location were important factors in determining each stadium's success.

As Jaffe notes, "The lesson for other cities considering a downtown stadium, the authors conclude, is to understand beforehand whether or not the mega-structure fits the urban form, and if it doesn't, to design a development plan that enhances whatever impact it might have on its own."

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Published on Tuesday, March 27, 2012 in The Atlantic Cities
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