Going to bat for pro baseball

On Tuesday, the Reno City Council received the results of a marketing analysis and feasibility study on building a new baseball stadium to house a minor-league team. This is the first major step toward bringing professional sports back into our community.

Over the last year, as I have worked with a group of private citizens and businesspeople to build a coalition of support for the project, I have been asked by many people (including my own family members) why I am so dedicated to seeing this project become a reality. After all, those who know me best know that I am not an avid baseball fan. One does not have to be a fan of the sport, or of any professional sport, however, to recognize just how important this project is to our community.

There is great debate going on throughout the nation as to the economic benefits of professional sports development. Recently, I attended a forum on the subject, in which several distinguished economists presented and debated reports on the relationship of pro sports and community development. As one would expect, whenever you get a group of economists in a room together, there was no clear consensus on the economic impacts of stadium projects.

Almost everyone agreed, however, that overwhelmingly positive non-economic benefits accrue to communities with professional sports franchises. Many of these non-economic factors directly relate to the various quality-of-life issues that people in our city consistently say are important to them.

Historically, Reno has concentrated on creating entertainment venues to help drive our tourism industry. The proposed convention center expansion, downtown special-events center and Cordish development are all being designed and built to cater to our visitor base. Given the fact that tourism is such an integral part of our economy, it is only right that we pursue these opportunities.

At the same time, we must not forget the more than 300,000 people who live, work and play in the Truckee Meadows. Bringing baseball back to Reno gives us the opportunity to provide our citizens with quality, family entertainment that is affordable to everyone.

Where else in our community can you take a family of four and get an entire afternoon’s entertainment for less than $30? Minor-league baseball offers the opportunity for fathers and mothers to spend quality time with their children. It’s also a place where teenagers can spend time with friends in a safe and supervised environment.

Professional sports provide a catalyst for community involvement and pride. Teams become a part of the identity of the city. It would be difficult to imagine Chicago without the Cubs, San Francisco without the Giants or New York without the Yankees. League involvement with community foundations and charities is also well-known, with players giving incentives to volunteer time to community activities.

These are the real benefits to bringing professional baseball back to our city.