From Pittsburgh to San Diego, the country has several cities with waterfront baseball stadiums, and Long Beach has what it takes to become one them, local business leaders said Tuesday.
Randy Gordon, president of the Long Beach Area Chamber of Commerce, said the local business community has been bustling with excitement since news broke Monday that the Los Angeles Angels are in talks with the city about possibly moving the team to Long Beach.
The move would mean a new stadium on a waterfront lot, known as the “elephant lot,” which sits as one of the largest undeveloped parcels of land in Downtown Long Beach.
It would also mean an economic boom for small businesses, retail shops and restaurants, Gordon said.
“This is certainly a possibility for us,” Gordon said. “We know Long Beach has the capabilities, the facilities and the talent to make this happen.”
For now, details like the cost of the proposed stadium and who would pay for it are not yet clear. The project would also require many layers of approval.
Last month, the Angels extended their lease with Anaheim through 2020, so their arrival in Long Beach couldn’t happen any sooner than the 2021 season.
For many residents who heard the news on Monday, there were two main concerns — parking and traffic during the 81 home games each year.
Steve Goodling, president of the Long Beach Area Convention & Visitors Bureau, said the city will have to work to address those concerns. But Long Beach, he said, already has good experience managing traffic for large events like the annual Grand Prix and the Red Bull Flugtag events in 2010 and 2013.
Goodling said the city is also well suited because of its Blue Line and other public transit options.
“There’s a lot that Long Beach brings to the table,” he said.
Kraig Kojian, president if the Downtown Long Beach Alliance, said the fact that a baseball team is considering moving to Long Beach shows that the city is on a new level.
“Just to have a billion dollar industry look at this and say ‘yes, it’s a real possibility,’ is exciting in itself,” he said.
The business leaders pointed to other cities, like San Diego and San Francisco, as examples of world-class waterfront stadiums in dense urban cores.
Here is a closer look at some of those waterfront baseball stadiums:
Petco Park San Diego
Home to the San Diego Padres, Petco Park on the city’s downtown waterfront faced an uphill battle before it opened in 2004. Debate still swirls around the $301 million taxpayer subsidy for the $474 million project. But city officials have said it’s worth it since the park is credited for boosting downtown development. An economic study from the National University System Institute for Policy Research, a San Diego-based think tank, found the park was instrumental in developing downtown as a residential community, but it did little to increase employment in the area’s ZIP code. In 2004, the park opened to a high of 37,000 visitors per game, but the numbers have dwindled in recent years as the team struggles. Last year, the park saw an average of 26,772 fans per game.
Oracle Park San Francisco
The waterfront center now known as Oracle Park has been home to the San Francisco Giants since 2000. Nestled in a dense urban core, the privately funded, 41,915-square-foot stadium will eventually become the heart of a mixed-use waterfront development called Mission Rock. The $1.6 billion project, approved by the City Council in 2017, will transform a 28-acre parking lot currently used by fans into a space for housing units, retail and offices. The project has promised more than 1,300 housing units for middle-income families. Not to be left out, the Oakland Athletics last year announced a waterfront location for its new ballpark, with the goal of opening in 2023.
Great American Ball Park Cincinnati
Set on the banks of the Ohio River in downtown Cincinnati, Great American Ball Park has been home to the Reds since 2003. The ball park and the Paul Brown Stadium for the Bengals were both funded through a half-percent sales tax increase that has been called one of the worst sports deals in history for a local government. By 2010, Paul Brown Stadium’s costs had eaten up 16.4 percent of Hamilton County’s general budget. Last year, average attendance per game for the Great American Ball Park dropped to 20,116, its lowest since opening.
PNC Park Pittsburgh
Home to the Pittsburgh Pirates, PNC Park opened in 2001 on the shore of the Allegheny River. This 38,747-capacity stadium also saw controversy over its public funding and taxpayers are now crying foul over footing the bill for stadium repairs and upgrades. While attendance has dwindled, the stadium still ranks among the best for its spectacular views of the city skyline.
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