After recently reading to a group of third graders at Weisser Park Elementary I was driving along Jefferson Boulevard looking at the hole in the ground that will be the new home of the Wizards baseball team.
As I drove by that hole I thought to myself, “Does this baseball stadium make economic sense?”
I have a saying I often mutter to myself and that’s, “concentrate your energy where the problems the greatest.”
Take on the most pressing matters first-the rest can wait.
I love the idea of revitalization but it should make sense, especially from an economic standpoint. To me the baseball stadium doesn’t make sense. It’s a waste of resources particularly when there’s nothing wrong with the Wizards current home.
It will take more than a change of venue to induce fans to commit to the Wizards-they couldn’t even sell out the stadium they are in now.
In the famous baseball movie Field of Dreams actor Kevin Costner heard from the distinguished voice of James Earl Jones, “if you build it they will surely come” if he (Costner) were to build a field on his property.
Will the people come to the new Harrison Square stadium?
Initially I believe people will flock to the ballpark because it’s something new and exciting. People will come because of the weather, intrigue, and have something to do. But what happens after the euphoria diminishes? I think the initial allure of the stadium will be strong but over time it will diminish.
Why not build a multi-use facility that’s conducive to fielding more than one sport? That way you generate more revenue and take maximum advantage of the land. To me that makes economic sense.
After the baseball season ends the stadium will probably serve as a visual novelty until the next season. Maybe it can be decorated during the holidays with Santa and his reindeer.
I also believe if the Harrison Square project is truly a community-based project then it should reflect those whom reside there. If the residents are encouraged to spend their dollars supporting the project then a certain amount of the construction business should be allocated for minority businesses. African American and Latinos businesses should have opportunities to thrive economically from this project and have the chance to build where a fair number of minorities live.
The overall intentions of the masterminds behind the Harrison Square project are noble but flawed with regards to the stadium. Condos, shops, a new hotel and restaurants make sense because that will stimulate the economy, create jobs and give the community a face-lift. To me a stadium for baseball doesn’t cut it.
Once the Harrison Square project is finished we’ll see if the stadium will generate enough dollars for the venture to make sense.