Everything you need to know about failed economic development policy

This photo, taken in 2009, should tell you everything you need to know about failed economic development policy in the United States. The stadium construction, parking lots, pedestrian overpass, shopping mall, the dozen lanes of interstate and the indoor ski slop. Yes, an indoor ski slope. While I’ve always been fascinated by indoor ski slopes; environmentally I’m guessing they’re a disaster. Plus this one happens to be an eyesore.

If we build it, they will come? This argument doesn’t hold up under even the most modest of scrutinies. The Twin Cities own experiences should serve lesson that large sport and convention center venues do not create a catalyst for development.

[Minneapolis, Minnesota – 1991, 2002, 2009]

Notice the development around the Metrodome? Neither did anyone else. North of the Metrodome, near the Guthrie Theater, condo development has occurred, but little of which can be attributed to proximity to the Metrodome. The Mississippi River, cultural amenities and other forces appear to play a larger role in redevelopment.

St. Paul has had similar results with the Excel Energy Center.

[St. Paul, Minnesota – 1991, 2002, 2009]

Stadiums prompting development in immediate surrounding area of a new stadium certainly sounds like a plausible argument as large infrastructure projects do typically yield private development. However, sport stadiums appear to be the exception to the rule.

[Indianapolis, Indiana – 1992, 2007, 2010]

The new Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis is pictured above. Notice the RCA Dome in the 1992 and 2007 images. It’s a convention center now, or to put it another way – a non-private sector development.

[Philadelphia, Pennsylvania – 1992, 2002, 2011]

Philadelphia’s sports district has seen little improvement in two decades. Sports stadiums seemed to have beget only more sports stadiums … and open surface parking lots. A similar story exists in Phoenix, Arizona, where not even the seemingly omnipresent housing subdivisions of Phoenix desired proximity.

[Phoenix, Arizona – 1992, 2003, 2011]

Even urban success stories of the 2000s (such as Denver and Pittsburgh) with large influxes of people clamoring for downtown and inner-city real estate, struggled to fill in the empty surfaces surrounding their sport stadiums.

[Pepsi Arena, Denver, Colorado – 1992, 2002, 2011]

[Coors Field, Denver, Colorado – 1993, 2003, 2011]

[Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania – 1993, 2004, 2010]

[Note: Yes, this is part of an old post that was so popular it got me two lines in the Strib!]


3 thoughts on “Everything you need to know about failed economic development policy

  1. Have you done any research on college stadiums? Obviously they are situated usually witin a college campus but have in some instances 25-30% more in attendance. Arizona State offers a completely different experience all within walking distance of “downtown” Tempe.

    Other stadiums I am curious about are the mega soccer stadiums in Europe… what is being done there? I recall one in Valencia, Spain that seemed to be a natural part of the city – I wonder what it’s economic impact is?

    Also, I really dig stadium talk… keep it up!

    1. Thanks for reading. It’s a great topic.

      I’m not really sure about a lot of college stadiums. Certainly there have been dozens upon dozens of new ones lately. Going off the top of my head here, but I believe they were once funded by donors. That seems to have changed a bit. I know the University of Minnesota and University of Louisville made big stadium deals (for college basketball / football / other events that are supposed to occur there) with public money. Not sure how they’ve worked out.

      I’ll do some digging! Best -Nate

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