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Volume 22 No. 12
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Mixed-use sports developments position themselves as truly year-round destinations

An expansion underway at Ballpark Village in St. Louis includes a hotel (left), office tower and fitness facility.
Photo: cordish cos. rendering

Mixed-use developments next to stadiums and arenas continue to evolve beyond just restaurants, bars and shops. In the push to become economic engines outside of game days, more of the projects are incorporating hotels, offices, apartments, event spaces and medical centers.

The first phase and the core appeal of sports districts was their entertainment options, but that’s now largely viewed as simply a building block for a project’s overall success.

“The most powerful districts, sports-anchored developments, are multiuse at their core,” said Reed Cordish, principal with the Cordish Cos. “Then you create a best-in-class neighborhood around it with a hotel and meeting space, office, residential all potentially playing a part.”

The Baltimore-based real estate developer has been a trailblazer with mixed-use projects and most recently has partnered with the Jacksonville Jaguars, St. Louis Cardinals and Texas Rangers on real estate projects at their stadiums. Cordish also teams with Comcast Spectacor at the Xfinity Live! development next to Philadelphia’s arena and stadium hub.

For teams seeking tax dollars for facility projects, the grander view of mixed-use developments is seen as a must-have component for skeptical public entities wanting more assurances that the projects will indeed revitalize an area.

“Stand-alone sports venues don’t pencil out when you look at the big debt service in the public participation,” said Mike Plant, president of the Atlanta Braves, who developed The Battery Atlanta next to their new SunTrust Park.

Cobb County borrowed $376 million toward building the $672 million Braves stadium.

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Building office space at mixed-use projects attracts more permanent jobs and creates 9-to-5 weekday activity and traffic flow that can support coffee shops, restaurants and other businesses on the site.

Cordish and Comcast Spectacor — which owns the Wells Fargo Center and the Philadelphia Flyers — announced Feb. 7 they are building an $80 million, 200,000-square-foot office building next to Xfinity Live’s bars and restaurants.

The $260 million second phase of Ballpark Village next to Busch Stadium will have a 120,000-square-foot office tower owned by the St. Louis Cardinals and Cordish. PriceWaterhouseCoopers will anchor the space.

One other undeveloped parcel at the downtown St. Louis development could end up with an office tower as well. “My goal, my dream is to develop a corporate headquarters,” said Bill DeWitt III, president of the Cardinals. 

A centerpiece of the Braves’ second phase at The Battery is just that. Thyssenkrupp Elevator is locating a new U.S. headquarters, including a 420-foot elevator test tower, at the suburban Atlanta project. The office complex will have about 600,000 square feet of space. The German company will bring approximately 1,000 employees. But at least another 10,000 visitors will be coming in annually for training and meetings.

Delaware North — which owns TD Garden and the Boston Bruins — is partnering with real estate developer Boston Properties for The Hub on Causeway — a 1.5-million-square-foot redevelopment of the Boston Garden site. Verizon will lease about two-thirds of a 620,000-square-foot office tower while tech firm Rapid7 will use most of a 175,000-square-foot office loft that’s also being built.

The Green Bay Packers and Microsoft are building new offices with high-tech lab and studio space as part of the team’s Titletown development next to Lambeau Field.

The Oakland Athletics want to buy and redevelop the site of their current stadium, the Oakland Alameda County Coliseum, for $137 million. Oracle Arena would remain and be transformed into more of a concert venue surrounded by a development district. High-tech offices and other commercial uses are in those blueprints.

“You build up the location,” said A’s President Dave Kaval. “You can have a tech campus. You can have light industrial or manufacturing. You can even have another campus of a local university.”

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The evolution of sports developments is also seeing a greater variety of event spaces, beyond just the anchor stadium and arena, to host such things as festivals and concerts. Those can be concert halls, conference centers, esports venues and large outdoor plazas.

“It’s about how many different venues can you have on a site,” said Bryan Trubey, executive vice president and director of sports and entertainment for architecture firm HKS.

Trubey said that variety will be front and center at the $4.9 billion Los Angeles Stadium at Hollywood Park.

“That’s actually three different venues. It’s a stadium that seats approximately 70,000. It’s a monumental outdoor plaza. It’s a 6,000-seat performing arts stadium,” said Trubey, whose firm is designing the stadium and complex for the Rams and Chargers.

Part of the A’s redevelopment plans around Oracle Arena include Danish architect Bjarke Ingels creating a Roman and Greek-style amphitheater to host events.

Reed Cordish said having a 2,000- to 4,000-seat music and events venue can help bring in a variety of concerts and acts. Ballpark Village, for example, has the 2,000-seat Fox Sports Midwest Live! venue.

Plant said the Thyssenkrupp headquarters at The Battery will have event space on the top two floors that the Braves will use for special events and meetings.

“We’ll use that for dinners, receptions. It’s going to be a very iconic place in Atlanta,” he said. “The views are going to be 360-degree. It’s going to be a pretty spectacular place for special events.”

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Hotels and residential units are additional key elements at mixed-used projects, again with the goal of more traffic to support restaurants, bars and other tenants at developments throughout the year.

“Hotels, residential, retail and hospitality are important when it comes to maximizing economic impact to a city because you want a 365-day experience for the market,” said Jimmy Smith, COO and CFO of FC Dallas and former finance director at American Airlines Center.

“It’s got to be a place where you want to live, you want to eat, you want to shop and play,” said Smith. “It’s got to have everything. I think people are demanding that and if it’s not there, other places are going to start growing.”

Up the street from FC Dallas, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones’ real estate company is developing a 17-story apartment tower with former Cowboys quarterback Roger Staubach and developer Robert Shaw’s Columbus Realty at The Star at Frisco. The Star is home to the Cowboys’ headquarters and the 12,000-seat Ford Center stadium.

Don Barnum, global sports leader for architecture firm DLR Group, said hotels work when they are partnered with a sports venue that hosts a lot of events. “That works in a place that is going to have 200 or more events a year,” he said.

The proposed Jacksonville Shipyards would see hotels, offices, residential units and retail added around TIAA Bank Field. A new convention center and marina also are planned.
Photo: cordish cos. rendering

Cordish has formed a partnership with Loews Hotel & Company for a hotel concept called “Live! by Loews” with openings slated for the Texas Live development next to the Texas Rangers’ new Globe Life Field and AT&T Stadium in Arlington, and Ballpark Village.

Reed Cordish said the concept brings street-level restaurants and bars. “The ground floor brings energy, adds to the overall sports development. The rooms are higher end for business travelers,” he said.

There is also a 135-room Lodge Kohler hotel at the Packers’ Titletown district where apartments and townhouses are part of future development plans. And a second hotel is slated in Atlanta at The Battery under Starwood Hotels & Resorts’ Aloft flag.

A four-star, 320-room hotel is being built at the Vikings Lakes development in Eagan next to the Minnesota Vikings’ new headquarters and practice facility.

Real estate groups DeBartolo Development Co. and Rimrock Devlin Development want to build a 350-room hotel that connects to a new 490,000-square-foot convention center that is part of the Jaguars’ redevelopment of Jacksonville’s Shipyards area next to TIAA Bank Field.

In St. Louis, DeWitt hopes a 30-story, 300-unit apartment tower, the tallest of the second phase, adds to the downtown housing mix.

“It never really had a lot of residential. The residential that evolved in downtown was mostly loft oriented in the last 15 to 20 years has been rehabbed old buildings, historic buildings, very little new product,” DeWitt said. “We feel this is really an opportunity for some new residential product.”

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Medical and fitness facilities also have been woven into a growing number of mixed-use projects.

Often, that involves simply adding a fitness center as a tenant, such as a Onelife Fitness location planned for the second phase of Ballpark Village.

As is usually the case with the Cowboys, they took the much larger route, partnering last year with Baylor Scott & White to develop a 300,000-square-foot, $200 million sports medicine facility and research center at The Star.

A 78,000-square-foot Twin Cities Orthopedics center has already been built at the Vikings Lakes development. In Green Bay next to Lambeau, the Bellin Health Titletown Sports Medicine and Orthopedics center totals 52,000 square feet, is staffed by team doctors and treats youth and other athletes.

Regardless of the size of the project, the fitness/health care angle is a natural for developments that stake their identity to sports facility anchors.

Rob Autry is building a health and wellness center at a $35 million mixed-use project in Raleigh, N.C., as part of a new 50-court, 5,000-member tennis center.

Autry wants to bring medical facilities including sports medicine, health-conscious restaurants and wellness components to his 48-acre Triangle Racquet Club.

“It’s the live, work, play model,” Autry said. “It’s everything under one roof.” 

The idea behind office buildings, such as the one used by Comcast at The Battery in Atlanta, is to provide traffic that can support restaurants and other businesses on non-game days.
Photo: atlanta braves