Days are running short before Lents must vote whether to invest $42 million of its urban renewal money into building a Triple-A ballpark in the neighborhood.
But since the city won't study the economic impact of a stadium on Lents a concerned Lents resident took on the job for himself. Nick Christensen covered the Las Vegas 51's Minor League Baseball team for a local paper in Nevada and got caught up in the stadium drama here after recently moving to Lents. Frustrated with the lack of hard data available in the debate, Christensen decided to spend his evenings crafting Excel graphs of ticket sales from minor league stadiums around the country.
The result is a whopping 60 page report (pdf) comparing Lents with twenty six stadium-building neighborhoods. Christensen is a member of the recently-formed Friends of Lents Park group that is meeting tonight to strategize opposition to the stadium, so Christensen himself leans against the deal. But his study does not come to any specific conclusions about whether Lents should fund a stadium or not. Instead, it provides some straightforward and interesting stats. Christensen writes in the intro:
A few things stood out for me in preparing this report. One, attendance for these teams generally followed a straight line, even before a new stadium was constructed. That is to say, if attendance numbers had followed their pre-new-stadium trends, they generally would be unchanged if the new stadium has been built. Second, for many teams, attendance has dropped notably since construction of new stadiums
But most importantly, only 5 cities [of 26 researched] have substantial evidence of new urban development in the area of Triple-A stadiums. All these cities have stadiums in their downtown areas. Cities with stadiums in urban areas (defined in theis study as non-suburban areas primarily bordered by residential properties) similar to Lents have not seen substantial, or in some cases any, new development since stadiums were constructed.
Portland, of course, is not “other cities.” We have both assets and challenges for the Beavers if they relocate to Lents. But I think perspective is important when considering the likelihood of the Beavers successfully fostering new development in Lents.