If You Build It, Lots and Lots of People Will Have to Come
"The real driver is the attendance projections," said Jason Thompson, the consultant who estimates about 7,000 people per game.
A bunch of numbers jump out when it comes to the proposed new minor league ballpark in Hartford. One of them is the jobs projection.
There's the more than 9,000 seats, the 25-year deal, the $500,000 annual rent, the no-more-than $60 million the city will borrow to build the stadium. There's also this: 600 new, permanent, full-time jobs will come to the city once the Rock Cats arrive.
That seems like a big number for a baseball stadium that only hosts games spread out over a few months of the year. How did they come up with that number?
"The real driver is the attendance projections," said Jason Thompson, a consultant with the firm Brailsford & Dunlavey, which has done a study on the new park. He said he based his numbers on an annual attendance of 500,000 people. With 70 or so games, that would turn out to about 7,000 people per game. The Rock Cats only average 3,800 people per game so far this year.
Back to the jobs: "Obviously, those people are going to spend money at the ballpark," Thompson said, "and people have to work at the ballpark to support that spending. But they'll also be spending money outside the ballpark, and around the ballpark."
That's the difference between what Thompson called direct and indirect jobs. Direct jobs would include the 40 or so people working at the park, and 360 or so working in transportation, hotels, and restaurants around the park. That's 400. The other 200 would be indirect jobs: the beer truck driver, the hot dog distributor; that sort of thing.
Here's another assumption in the math: "We assumed about ten percent of the fans would spend the night," Thompson said.
In other words, anywhere between 400 and 700 people each game would spend the night in a Hartford hotel.
Another storyline about the Rock Cats' move to Hartford is that New Britain knew nothing about it. That seems to be there case with a lot of people in Hartford, too. At the same time the city was working in secret to build a ballpark, it was also working in public on a new development plan for that part of town, called Downtown North. In those public discussions, there was no talk of a ballpark.
On Wednesday, Hartford Courant Columnist Tom Condon and I asked Thomas Deller, the city's development director, about this point.
Tom Condon: The downtown north plan did not have a baseball stadium.
Thom Deller: It did not... We were approached by the team 16 months ago.
So you were doing both at the same time?
That's part of things I have to do in my life, right? Right?
Listen below to the brief exchange:
Next week, the city council will begin its consideration of the plan to spend no more than $22 million, and borrow no more than $42 million, to build the new park.
Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly said the city council will vote on this measure next week.