A Downtown Stadium: Keys to Success

The question for cities is often: What is the silver bullet for the revitalization of a Downtown?
There are always answers, but often, they are misguided and wrong. There is not one single universal answer. As a matter of fact, the idea of a silver bullet is pure blasphemy.
However, the dialogue has started in my city, Colorado Springs, to go for the silver bullet downtown. I am in agreement with the notion that improving the heart of the City first. I am grateful that we have a mayor who makes Downtown a priority. It should be a top priority in every city. With our own bodies, we would always prioritize our heart and brain first to survive. The same holds true for the city. Colorado Springs is somewhat unique though in the fact that we really have two hearts. Downtown is the ‘local perceived heart’, but on the tourism side, I would argue that Old Colorado City is the ‘nationally perceived heart’. Both, and the space between, are very important to get right.
So what is the supposed silver bullet? A Downtown Baseball Stadium. An element, which when implemented correctly, has done amazing things for cities across the country.
So I personally do not subscribe in the belief in werewolves, nor do I believe in the related weapon of defeat, the silver bullet. However, since we as a community seem to be focusing our sights in this direction, let me offer a few suggestions for the greatest chance of success in implementing a Downtown Baseball Stadium:
1. Do not add parking exclusively for a stadium… not one single parking space. Nothing destroys a downtown walkable environment like parking.
2. Provide great access to the stadium. For those of you who think that I just contradicted the first suggestion, stop thinking about the way we currently get around and think about the vitality of the place. Access is not just about the automobile, in fact when done right, the automobile is the lowest priority of access. Pedestrian access and Pedestrian Propulsion are the highest priorities. Transit and bicycle mobility are next.
3. The stadium must have multiple purposes, for all times of the year. Single-use Stadiums and “Entertainment Districts” are destined to fail. It should not require an event planner to keep it activated. The first floor, or street facade of a stadium must be activated with everyday retail and restaurant opportunities. Settling for stadium specific/related uses only results in a seasonal area that will be desolate on the off-season. Upper floor uses must also be activated with offices and luxury apartments. The ROI on this is incredible when implemented correctly. Imagine an office with a Birdseye suite on to the stadium.
These are just the tip of the iceberg of course in getting it right. But as always, I’m happy to meet over a coffee or beer to discuss this further.

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3 Comments

  1. I do not support a limited use facility such as a baseball stadium. A baseball field is a rather restricted use, it does not lend itself to multi uses.

    Instead I recommend a multi use facility such as Infinity Park in Glendale.Its so much cooler than just a ball park.

    Think big, think forward expand the horizon.We can do better

  2. Thanks Eddie, I believe that there are options to do it all. We just need the right mentality. If you think of a baseball stadium, as just a baseball stadium, it’s not going to be worth the initial investment, because it has seasonal purpose at best. If instead, it is a “place”, that is open to the public when games are not played (think Dog Park in the winter months, or allow the general public to play on it, I think the chances of success and use are much higher. This creates a place that can be lively at all times and could boost the expected economic development that the area needs… 365 days of the year.
    When we (while at HDR) were originally considering the Downtown baseball stadium in Omaha (when it was simply a pipe dream) during the North Downtown Master Plan, we had planned it with the items that I bulleted above. We were not adding any additional parking, actually subtracting parking from the Qwest Center and sharing it. All floors had 365 days per year usage and it wasn’t simply for one team, or even sport. It was to be shared with Creighton, the Omaha Royals, and expandable for the College World Series. I don’t know when the wheels fell off, but it didn’t end up that way, and it won’t realize the potential that it could have had.
    Colorado Springs, in this pursuit, needs to look at the unique potential partnerships with UCCS, Colorado College, and everyday use.

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