Media Watch: Media plays ball with new parks as season opens

The start of the 2000 baseball season saw the debut of three new ballparks - Comerica Park in Detroit, Pac Bell Park in San Francisco and Enron Field in Houston - each of which generated almost as much coverage as the Opening Day games that took place in them. What is behind this new trend? Could this all be an attempt to woo back the fans?

The start of the 2000 baseball season saw the debut of three new ballparks - Comerica Park in Detroit, Pac Bell Park in San Francisco and Enron Field in Houston - each of which generated almost as much coverage as the Opening Day games that took place in them. What is behind this new trend? Could this all be an attempt to woo back the fans?

The start of the 2000 baseball season saw the debut of three new

ballparks - Comerica Park in Detroit, Pac Bell Park in San Francisco and

Enron Field in Houston - each of which generated almost as much coverage

as the Opening Day games that took place in them. What is behind this

new trend? Could this all be an attempt to woo back the fans?



According to media coverage analyzed by CARMA International, there is a

nearly universal consensus that the new ’super ballparks’ have been

warmly received by fans, players and local communities. ’I wasn’t

expecting this. They exceeded my expectations and hit a home run,’ said

one fan (Detroit News, April 12).



Many of the reports traced the beginnings of the new stadium trend to

the 1992 opening of Baltimore’s Camden Yards. The Detroit News (April

10) added that the three new ballparks and Camden Yards were all

’clearly designed in reaction to the one-size-fits-all look of ballparks

built in the 1970s.’ Each differs from existing structures in that its

modern yet retro-looking facilities are situated downtown rather than in

the suburbs. Furthermore, each emphasizes the local history and

character of the city in which it was built.



Several reports presented the construction of the new ballparks from the

perspective of the impact each will have on the local community.

Detroit, San Francisco and Houston are all hoping that the new ballparks

will revitalize their downtown business areas. Adjacent buildings and

neighborhoods are already said to be renovating and creating a lively

atmosphere. Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig suggested,

’Stadiums’ economic benefits have a ripple effect through the

community ... The sociological influence to quality of life is

absolutely remarkable’ (The Washington Post, April 6).



Media reports also indicated that new ballparks have increased

attendance.



San Francisco and Detroit were both noted to have seen an increase in

ticket sales, but The Houston Chronicle (April 11) pointed out that the

42,000-seat Enron Field failed to sell out for its second home game.In

the same article, Matthew Freedman of Team Market Publication was quoted

as saying,’I wouldn’t say it’s embarrassing, but I’m sure they’d like to

do better.’



Another theme in the coverage of the three new stadiums was that they

all offer attractions in addition to the game. Among other things, fans

were reported to have enjoyed the Comerica Park carousel ride and a

Ferris wheel, while Pac Bell drew praise for its Wiffle ball park for

kids. As the San Francisco Chronicle (April 11) explained, ’In modern

ballpark design, an orchestra of diversions, comforts and sensations

makes the overall entertainment.’



Although the new stadiums received a good deal of praise, some reports

noted that it’s getting tougher for the average fan to head out to the

game. Increased ticket prices, parking lot fees and the cost of food and

beverages at the new ballparks were a source of aggravation for

some.



For now, it seems the stadiums have been a success with fans, but the

lure of an attractive new ballpark might not be enough to keep fans

returning if the home teams fail to perform.





Evaluation and analysis by CARMA International, Media Watch can be found

at www.carma.com.



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