Well, the numbers are in, and the ballpark is a huge success. Attendance records have been broken, businesses are swarming downtown, hotel tax revenues are through the roof, employment is soaring, and manufacturing plants are sprouting like mushrooms.
Well, okay, maybe only attendance records have been broken. I’d be interested in comparing actual attendance to tickets sold, but I’m sure even an adjusted number would be impressive.
But I don’t think attendance, by any measure, is the right metric for judging the ballpark’s success. Did MountainStar persuade City Council to build the ballpark by promising that baseball fans would show up for games? I’m pretty sure the plutocrats justified the City’s investment with guarantees of economic development and downtown revitalization. If all we wanted were attendance records, we could have spent a lot less than $62 million on free beer at Ascarate Park.
Of course, the ballpark proponents have to take their successes where they can find them. Businesses aren’t swarming downtown, hotel tax revenues haven’t met expectations, employment hasn’t spiked, and only a couple of (maybe one) manufacturers have broken ground on new facilities. Things are so dire that a frozen yogurt shop opening up downtown is newsworthy.
We can only hope that the ballpark will achieve all the purported objectives that were promised. And attendance records are good first step. But the road is long, and the opportunities for failure plenty.