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Root, Root, Root For Your Home Team

November 1st, 2005
Marc Hequet, Retail Traffic

But if they don’t win, developers better make sure their projects can stand on their own.

If you build it, they will come. Or so a disembodied voice told Kevin Costner’s character, Ray Kinsella, in Field of Dreams, encouraging him to create a baseball diamond in rural Iowa. In real life, however, it’s far more complicated.

When developers hear mysterious voices, they would do well to be a bit more skeptical. True, sports arenas can draw tens of thousands of fans and beef up traffic in centers—but there are obvious problems.

For starters, sports seasons are by nature restricted. How do you fill the stadium when the home team isn’t playing? Then there are the traffic and parking dilemmas.

“On race days, you see a little less traffic in Cabela’s and the Nebraska Furniture Mart,” says RED Development LLC vice president Steve Graham, of the firm’s initial retail endeavors at Village West next to the Kansas Speedway and the Kansas City T-Bones baseball field. “People just kind of stay away from the area because they’re worried about traffic.”

Nebraska Furniture Mart nevertheless likes having the Speedway as a neighbor. Its store—712,000 square feet of shopping and warehouse space—will grow to a combined 1 million square feet by year-end to accommodate customer demand. The Speedway provides “immediate identification for the area,” says NFM marketing director Mark Hamilton. He doesn’t mind the added traffic of big race weekends because it cuts both ways: “Some people think there’s too much traffic during an event weekend,” says Hamilton. “Others come from a long way away and make a shopping stop on top of the stop for the event.”


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