Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Local Opinion


Harrison Square might fail like other projects

"Midtowne Crossing was a project for downtown in the 1980s. It was supposed to bring people back to downtown. It was never completed and didn’t do much of anything."

"I have not found anyone who thinks Harrison Square is a good idea. The numbers given for attendance at the Wizards’ games have nothing to do with the number of people who actually come to the games. I have attended when there were at most 1,000 people, and the numbers given for that day’s attendance were at least 2,000. Why lie about it?"

"The cities with downtown ballfields used to compare with Fort Wayne have a much greater population to draw from. Street & Smith’s Sports Business Journal ranked Fort Wayne as the best city for minor league teams; the magazine assumes it knows better than tens of thousands of people in this city."

"I will be one of the people paying for Harrison Square for years to come. I only hope it will be more successful then Midtowne Crossing."

Letters to the editor

More ideas for Harrison Square

"I still question why we are building a baseball stadium at Harrison Square. Everything about Harrison Square makes sense and is a very good idea, but a baseball stadium? We already have one. Maybe it could be spruced up some. But it is part of a very nice sports complex. It all works really well together if you ask me. And let's face it: This is a basketball/hockey town, not a baseball town."

"But let me throw this out there and see what people think. Let's take the indoor water park from the North River project and put that in Harrison Square instead of the baseball stadium. You will get a steadier draw of people than a baseball stadium will provide. You will get more people coming in from out of town to spend a weekend than with a baseball stadium as well. Then, let's take the building currently standing at the corner of Clinton Street by Lawton Park and make it into a topnotch restaurant and casino. Since the building has the feel of an old-time railroad depot, make the casino and restaurant themed on the railroad. These again will be a big draw to the area and get people into town for a weekend. Plans can be worked with local hotels to encourage people to come to Fort Wayne as well."


brian said...

"It was never completed and didn’t do much of anything."

Midtowne was completed...

Actually try finding someone willing to sell you their unit, not easy.

John B. Kalb said...

Brian - But no retail usage of any of the ground floor - People that should know why say, " It just wasn't right for retail". What leads anyone to assume that the HS plans will be different? John B. Kalb

brian said...

"- But no retail usage of any of the ground floor - "

Higher Grounds, Double Dragon, Midtowne Office Space, and I believe the Bar Association. Yes there aren't any clothing stores like there were 40 yrs ago.

No mention of the success of the residential component?

brian said...

"What leads anyone to assume that the HS plans will be different?"

I believe new construction on Jefferson Blvd. located below the most unique living spaces in the city next to a large community attraction will provide a much larger opportunity for success compared to retail at Midtowne.

Just the buzz/controversy of HS alone has created more publicity for HS retail than Midtowne Crossing as a whole has ever received.

chphwr said...

apparently the person who wrote the first editorial doesn't get out much.

Change Fort Wayne said...

don't forget - Downtown Cards and Gifts, also attached to midtowne.

This is the problem, people that haven't even taken the time to go look around are spouting the preconceptions.

brian said...

Catalyst Marketing is also on the first floor of Midtowne. I think the space they have there fits the company perfectly.

Joe said...

Directed toward the first editorial by Nicholas Gatton:

"The cities with downtown ballfields used to compare with Fort Wayne have a much greater population to draw from."

Per wikipedia:

Lansing, MI (Oldsmobile Park): Metro Statistical Area population of 454,044

Davenport, IA (John O' Donnell stadium - renovated by HOK in 2004): MSA population of 377,291

Fort Wayne, IN: MSA population of 565,606

Yes, Dayton does have more people to draw from but the author neglects the fact that they are competing with an MLB team (Cincinnati) an hour down the road for fans. Research is a good thing, Nicholas, you should try it sometime.

John B. Kalb said...

Joe- Quoting from the John O'Donnell web site,"Except for the Rhythm City Casino, there is not much else within walking distance of the stadium" - Doesn't that sound like our present Memorial Stadium - except they have 3 FREE parking lots so those in attendance get in their autos and drive somewhere after (or before) the game.
Note that John O'Donnell was built in the 1930's- updated in 1989 (just before our MS was built), and then a complete renovation in 2004, design by HOK, at a total costruction cost of $12.5 million -just about the maximum that it would take to upgrade Memorial.
Per, "Despite the extensive renovations, attendance has not picked up significantly - but the team could care less since they are getting tons of new revenue from other places ( boxes, et al)." Does this sound very familiar? John B. Kalb

scott s. said...

It would only sound familiar had Fort Wayne decided to renovate Memorial Stadium - but it didn't.

Here's what had to say about Memorial Stadium:

"A pretty average minor league park. Which is why in 2005 the city began a study to look a building a new downtown ballpark."

Scott said...


There are a few problems with your argument. First, most people in Fort Wayne don't go other places before or after a game. They go home. Second, once again you a whining about "free" parking. Cheap skate. Just like every other person in Fort Wayne. They want free at the door parking so we can get fat and not see what our city has to offer. Hence no one actually knows what's downtown.


'"Despite the extensive renovations, attendance has not picked up significantly - but the team could care less since they are getting tons of new revenue from other places ( boxes, et al)." Does this sound very familiar?' Not really. They only did a renovation of an existing stadium. According to the research done by the owners of the Wizards, the six teams that did an intra-market move saw an average increase in attendance of 125%. That would give the Wizards about an average attendance of 7000. Renovations in my experience don't really bring that many more people, unless the stadium was filled to capacity every game to begin with.

If we did renovate the stadium, where would you put another 8 luxury boxes to draw income from? Also the view of John O stadium was a river. Ours is a street.

The author of the article seemed to dislike almost everything about our stadium. I don't blame him. He uses words like bland, average, and not used for much. The only thing he seemed to like was the concourse area.


Did you also look at the pictures of MS that was the that website? They were taken in 1996, just 3 years after MS opened, and it already looks run down and not well maintained. The walls of the stadium are clearly stained from rainwater. These stains are still there today. This makes the stadium look horrible. 3 years old and the stadium already looks like it's been around for 20. An "upgrade" is not going to take this stadium from a B- to an A. $12.5 million into MS would be a complete waste of money. John, you would probably be against that anyway because it would more than likely use general property tax dollars.

Change Fort Wayne said...

Free parking -

Downtown parking is free after 6, but the meter maids are all government employees, so that means that they quit at 4:30.

What everyone should do is go to the harrison square site and start walking for 2-3 minutes and see how many parking spots are available in that area. Then consider how far back you park at MS due to foul balls.

Jeff Pruitt said...

An average of 7000 fans?

Tell me you don't really believe that. You and Pape should get together and discuss these pie-in-the-sky figures...

John B. Kalb said...

non-s scott- As I have posted before, the "temporary" food & beverage tax fund has over $10 million in it that is not required to pay for borrowed dollars - so the county could probably use this fund to cover the renovation cost of MS without needing any new property taxes - not general or TIF! So why would I be against that? John B. Kalb

Scott said...


Let's not use a straw man argument please. All I am saying by using the 7000 person figure is that if we see the same increase as other arguments, that would be the number. I don't know if that is what it's going to be because I can't see into the future. But the evidence points to the fact that intra-market moves have shown an increase in attendance.

I think everyone would be happy if we only saw an 50% increase. That would make the numbers 4500 or so.



The county government has not shown any willingness to actually use that money for the current wizards stadium. Hence why is looked terrible after only 3 years of use.

Scott said...


I would also like to ask you one more question. Why do you believe that spending 12mm on MS is a better investment than 30mm at HS? I also ask that you do not use the reason that one is cheaper. What is going to be the return on investment of 12mm at MS going to be?

scott s. said...

Why should we renovate Memorial Stadium?

John's quote proves that renovating a fundamentally flawed facility does not increase attendance.

Furthermore, the discussion about whether to renovate Memorial Stadium or go with Harrison Square has already been concluded.

Harrison Square was chosen, not renovating Memorial Stadium.