I don’t think anyone buys the “if you build it they will come” business anymore, but just in case there were any ballparks=development deadenders out there:
Baseball stadium backers promised a lively entertainment district when the D.C. government poured nearly $700 million into building Nationals Park: a hub of bustling shops, restaurants, hotels, condos and office towers to draw patrons year-round.
But as the Nationals take the field for their second season at the ballpark, there won’t be much entertainment outside. In a few weeks, a developer expects to set up a lonely beer tent on an empty lot across the street.
Fans approaching the ballpark along Half Street will pass an empty office building and a 35-foot-deep hole in the ground owned by Monument Realty, which has put plans on hold for shops, residences and a hotel. One block north, another office building, built by Nationals owner Theodore N. Lerner, sits vacant in search of a tenant.
This is obviously less a story about the folly of ballpark developments than it is about the economy as a whole, but it is worth noting that the D.C. area’s economy has fared far better in this recession than has that of the rest of the country, so this could have been far worse.
From the looks of things, there will be no ballpark village in St. Louis anytime soon. The elaborate development plans of Lew Wolff have turned to ashes. Miami is going to build a park, but given that the bed-tax-based financing plan was obsolete the day it was approved, there’s no telling what the thing is ultimately going to look like and how much it will really cost. Despite all of this, someone somewhere soon is going to propose that the taxpayers pay for a new soccer stadium. Or a minor league park. Or a race track. Or something else that promises development and profits.
And the craziest part of it all? People will believe it.