Sport Facilities, Urban Infrastructure, and Quality of Life: Rationalizing Arena-Anchored Development in North American Cities

Daniel S. Mason

Within a broader discourse of inter-city competition, sport and entertainment facilities have emerged as key points of contestation both within and between cities (Mason, Washington, & Buist, 2015). This fact has not been lost on anchor tenant sports franchise owners, who recognize their role in making these venues attractive by guaranteeing a certain number of spectators each year. As a result, the construction of new, state-of-the-art facilities continues, with substantial public funding becoming commonplace (Long, 2012). However, where once cities sought to build these facilities to retain or attract specific sports teams (Rosentraub, 1997), decisions are now more driven by the desire to present the facility (and the entertainment events held therein) as part of a much broader bundle of amenities that a city possesses (Clark, 2004). In turn, the overall attractiveness of these amenities is seen as impacting location and visitation decisions for people and businesses alike (Rosentraub, 2008, 2010). Proposed projects continue to be introduced in cities throughout North America; for example, in March 2016, a $1.8 billion development project was proposed in San Diego, which includes a new facility to host the San Diego Chargers of the National Football League (NFL) and $600 million for an adjacent convention center (McSwain & Weisberg, 2016).

Open Access