We’re always a little loathe to pitch new ballparks as an economic-development tool, but in Fort Wayne we have a great model for what a new facility can do: Parkview Field, the home of the Fort Wayne TinCaps (Low Class A; Midwest League), has attracted tens of millions in investments and revitalized the downtown area.
When TinCaps owner and managing partner Jason Freier first pitched Fort Wayne officials on the notion of a new downtown ballpark, the economic-development aspect of the project was there. And though it’s taken a little longer than anticipated to put all the pieces together — danged recession! — the final stage of the development is now done, with $18 million in financing for a new apartment complex, the Harrison, featuring balconies overlooking the ballpark and retail. Freier pitched the new ballpark as part of a $110-million development of Harrison Square, which also includes a new hotel, an expansion of the convention center and skywalks to other hotels, allowing the city to bid more aggressively on larger conventions.
It’s a continual battle between ballpark advocates and opponents over the economic impact of publicly funded and financed ballparks. There are plenty of cases where a new facility did not bring in additional investments — hello, Metrodome — and plenty of cases where a new ballpark clearly was an economic stimulus: Petco Park, Coors Field, Target Field. You can now add Parkview Field to that list.
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