by Pat Freeman
The recent storm that fell on Western New York once again highlighted the futility of our current stadium in Orchard Park, and why I have contended that not another dime of taxpayer funds should have gone into its renovation. This cosmetic waste of money which was forced down the pocket books of Western New Yorkers was unable to be ready not only for a home game, but it was a multi-use dome stadium in downtown Detroit they were forced to relocate in order to play their divisional rival New York Jets. Below is a look at the Detroit Lions advertisement for renting space at Ford Field in Downtown Detroit.
Over 230,000 square feet available inside Ford Field
Ford Field is strategically located in the heart of Detroit’s entertainment district and within walking distance of Campus Martius, Greektown, the Detroit Athletic Club, the Bolle YMCA, and Detroit’s most notable restaurants and residential complexes. The Class A facility is adjacent to Comerica Park , 36th District Courthouse, and Frank Murphy Hall of Justice. Ford Field tenants and guests enjoy easy freeway access to I-75 and convenient use of the downtown transit system.
Completed in 2002 and the recipient of numerous design awards, Ford Field is a unique collection of historic warehouse structures that were previously occupied by Hudson’s Department Stores from 1913 until 1995. Now a fully renovated modern facility, Ford Field features a series of skylight atriums and walkways that connect these warehouses, creating the most dynamic mixed-use project in Michigan. Ford Field affords its tenants the opportunity to utilize the stadium’s many unique spaces such as the Main Atrium, Clubs, and Locker Rooms for special events such as corporate meetings and parties.
This multi use project feature’s multiple revenue opportunities for the city of Detroit, and dwarfs the single use facility that we have in Orchard Park, New York. This argument has been made by this writer for a number of years as to why Western New York should have not wasted $130 million dollars on cosmetic work to the single use stadium in Orchard Park. Unfortunately the leadership here refused to have the foresight to understand that the landscape has changed for cities that have NFL teams. Part of the problem here was that the past ownership group along with the current county government had already made up their minds to renovate the current facility without strategically analyzing the current economic landscape. This mind set contributed to the negative feedback on the building a new downtown stadium complex, and later to the Outer Harbor stadium complex proposal designed by HKS Inc. of Dallas, Texas.
If Western New York is truly going to experience an economic rebirth of this region that is inclusive of every one of its citizens, then this negative mind-set on new ideas must change immediately. There are communities in this area that have upwards to 50% unemployment, and very little economic development in their neighborhoods. These numbers lend to the feeling that poor people do not matter in this country. That all decisions are based on the wants, and needs of the affluent with very little regards to those that are not. The Outer Harbor Stadium Complex proposal is an economic game changer that would create 8-15,000 living wage jobs that could be directed at those that just want to support themselves, their families, and contribute to the relief of those that feel completely destitute. This is why I continue to fight for this private investment proposal which will bring about change for the many here that need it.
In closing the trend of facilities that are able to generate multiple revenue streams is the current trend of the new NFL market place, and Buffalo must adopt this model in order to compete economically in the future.
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