The San Francisco Giants’ Mission Rocks.

As sports organizations continue to struggle to attract fans to live events, many teams look to enhance the experience of attending live games by renovating or relocating to a new stadium.

An organization will often ask its city for hundreds of millions of dollars in order to accomplish these renovations. Organizations have justified these requests by promising that the community will prosper once the new stadium is completed. However, the projected growth within the community is often highly exaggerated by these organizations.

Despite being a minor topic frequently discussed and often argued on major sports broadcasts, we find this topic in the headlines once again as the former Los Angeles Rams / St. Louis Rams prepare to move back to Los Angeles. The Rams will be leaving St. Louis their home for the last 21 years in their rearview mirror as they await the completion of their new $2.6 billion home in Los Angeles.

The relocation of the Rams highlights what has become common practice for an organization when its attendance begins to stall. Relocation or renovation of an existing stadium often cost communities greatly. Cities are often burdened with the decision to spend the money to build new stadiums or suffer the loss of revenue brought in from the team’s existence in the community.

Fortunately there is an organization that has chosen a refreshing new approach. This organization has proposed to spruce up their existing stadium and its surrounding area at their own expense. Rather than ask its city for millions of dollars to spend on a new stadium, this organization has worked tirelessly with the city of San Francisco for eight years to approve a plan that would transform industrial parking lots that surround the existing stadium into a lively neighborhood full of affordable housing, parks, shops and a historic San Francisco brewery.

The Mission Rock Initiative  was proposed by the San Francisco Giants  over eight years ago. What makes The Mission Rock Initiative is a unique initiative in that the San Francisco Giants have not asked the city of San Francisco to assist with the funding of this project. The San Francisco Giants have proposed to build the planned neighborhood on parts of Pier 48, and industrial parking lots that surround AT&T Park.

When asked about his thoughts on the Mission Rock Initiative, Jack Blair, the San Francisco Giants Senior Vice President and General Counsel said, “We think this will bring new vitality to the neighborhood and finish off Mission Bay to feel like a more authentic San Francisco neighborhood.”

While the process has been tedious, in November of last year the San Francisco Giants and the people of San Francisco accomplished an important first step. When the people of San Francisco were given the ability to vote on the Mission Rock Initiative, 74% of San Francisco voters voted in favor of the initiative.

After the initial victory, the San Francisco Giants and supporters of the Mission Rock Initiative will now have to wait through the lengthy process of gaining the necessary permits and approvals, before the crews can begin construction.

Looking to the future, as sports organizations continue to imagine more ways to attract fans to their live events, teams may look to the San Francisco Giants as an example on how to enhance the game-day experience without spending billions of dollars on massage chairs and Jacuzzis.

-Anthony

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