Monday, April 09, 2001

Ballpark alone won't save downtown Dayton

The Associated Press

        DAYTON, Ohio — Construction of a baseball stadium was supposed to revitalize the eastern section of downtown, but city officials say it's just one part of a long-term plan.

        “The expectation was never that baseball alone would cause redevelopment,” Mayor Mike Turner said, explaining it goes hand-in-hand with plans for an industrial park, a performing arts center and other projects.

        The Dayton Dragons of the Midwest League, a Class A farm club of the Cincinnati Reds, drew nearly 600,000 fans last season to the new $23.1 million Fifth Third Field and are likely to do so again, having sold out all seats for the second straight year.

        City officials say more than $100 million in investments have been made in the eastern part of downtown coinciding with or following the arrival of baseball.

        Those include a $24 million project known as RiverScape, due to open in May; four loft-housing projects; the Relizon Co.'s $26 million headquarters and parking garage; a $2.6 million business incubator; and a $2.25 million research and archival center for the Montgomery County Historical Society.

        Baseball brings thousands downtown, but only on 70 days or nights a year, which would leave a retail shop or restaurant looking for customers at other times.

        City officials believe loft dwellers, RiverScape visitors, baseball fans, Relizon workers and others will help create constant foot traffic that eventually will draw grocers, dry cleaners, coffee shops and other retailers.


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