On May 13, 2013, the schematic design for the new Vikings Football Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota was unveiled to the public. The total project cost of this 65,000 seat stadium is set at $975 million, with $498 million being split between the City of Minneapolis and the State of Minnesota. With the 2010 opening of yet another multi-million dollar project, the Target Field baseball park, in downtown Minneapolis, one cannot help but wonder about the actual impact and the ability of sports facilities to serve as urban redevelopment catalysts.
Proponents of sports facilities have justified public expenditures on these projects, declaring that these exorbitant projects are initiators of redevelopment in major downtown areas at the district level. Almost all of the existing literature has determined that sports facilities are poor investments and unworthy of public sector efforts and dollars. Despite massive evidence that sports facilities are not the metropolitan economic development engines that they are made out to be, cities continue to build them.
Nevertheless, in some cases, stadiums have contributed in the establishment of districts. For instance, the local example of the Target Field baseball park brought forth the onset of the newly acclaimed North Loop district, which has since been swarming with new development from modern condos to upscale boutiques, as well as posh entertainment and eating spots. However, it has been shown that even given the successful redevelopment of a district, the tremendous costs associated with new sports facilities usually minimizes any chance for a positive economic return from these projects. Not to mention the lack of any actual activity for residents of that particular district or city. In addition, long and short-term urban planning and engineering concerns regarding traffic flow, pedestrian safety, and the environment are only a few of the major effects the city is going to have to remedy.
The only thing that can be said and concluded from previous studies is that if public dollars continue to be invested toward new sports facilities, then new district development is one positive outcome that can result from such an exorbitant project.
Do you think that sports facilities can indeed serve as urban redevelopment catalysts? Can you provide an example from your city where that has been the case?
Photograph by Jasna Hadzic. Data and image linked to sources.