An article in yesterday’s Hartford Courant analyzed the proposed $60 million deal to bring the double-A New Britain Rock Cats to town, and found that the key to making it pay off in job creation will be “keeping the park in use throughout the year with lots of concerts and other events.”
Okay, that seems reasonable — the more the stadium is in use, the more people will have to be employed there. Who did the Courant get its information from?
“That’s the number of jobs that will have to be filled,” said the [Hartford city] consultant, Jason Thompson, a vice president at the Brailsford & Dunlavey management firm… “Brand new, successful ballparks operate this way.”
Okay, so the guy the city is paying to estimate its job creation projections (650 full-time equivalent jobs, if you were wondering) thinks that it will create jobs in line with what he projects it will create. What else you got, Courant? Let’s see, the director of a “year-round” ballpark in Birmingham, Alabama that has 25 full-time staff and between 75 and 275 part-timers on event days, which is a lot less than 650 full-time jobs. The president of a team with another minor-league stadium in Fort Wayne, Indiana, which despite nearly 600 (!) events a year has just 30 full-timers and 600 part-timers.
Finally, at the very end, we get an actual brief quote from someone who isn’t in the business of promoting the economic benefits of minor-league stadiums:
“Certainly 600 seems way out of the ballpark,” said Nola Agha, an assistant professor of sports management for the University of San Francisco. “You’re never going to get close to that 600 number in reality.”
The story here, then, seems to be that even the most successful minor-league baseball stadiums come nowhere near generating the kinds of jobs that Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra is promising. (It’d also be interesting to hear how many of Birmingham’s events, say, could be held year-round in considerably chillier Hartford, but that’s something else the Courant didn’t explore.) Instead, we get the headline “In Minor-League Cities, Stadium Use Key To Job Creation” — which is true, so long as you acknowledge that it’s the key to the difference between crappy and crappier.
[UPDATE: Meanwhile, the Rock Cats owner says he had to engage in secret negotiations to move the team because a Red Sox prospect slipped and sprained his ankle on wet turf in New Britain two years ago. Really.]