Pro tip: don’t build a downtown stadium if no one lives downtown

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I think the movie “Field of Dreams” Is schlocky tripe. I know most of you disagree with me on that. I don’t care.  But its worst transgression may not be against grownup storytelling, but in giving city planners and stadium-backers that stupid “if you build it, they will come” catchphrase. I bet there hasn’t been a stadium campaign which hasn’t had that bit of faux wisdom behind it since the movie came out.

However, as a recent compare and contrast between Coors Field — which truly helped revitalize its surrounding area — and Chase Field — which didn’t do a hell of a lot for downtown Phoenix — shows, that wisdom is exactly wrong. You need to build it where people already are:

Metropolitan Phoenix is a widespread area without a distinctive downtown core. Its satellite cities of Glendale, Tempe, and Scottsdale all have significant attractions and downtowns of their own that create what the researchers call a “centrifugal effect” on potential visitors to downtown Phoenix. By some estimates, Phoenix has the least developed downtown core in the country.

Denver, on the other hand, has a historic core that dates back to the city’s founding in 1858. In addition, the city itself is far less expansive: encompassing only about 150 squares miles, to more than 9,000 for metropolitan Phoenix. The result of this urban form, for Denver residents, is a considerably more convenient proximity to the stadium.

All of which led to a ballpark in Phoenix that does nothing for its surrounding area and one in Denver that does.

Hit it where they ain’t. Build it where they are.  It’s a pretty simple formula, actually. Amazing that people who are supposed to be experts in this kind of thing forget that sometimes.

Orioles re-sign Jace Peterson

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Because baseball teams have to have 25 guys — and because someone has to be that 25h guy — the Orioles have re-signed utilityman Jace Peterson. It’s a minor league contract so he may not be the actual 25th man but, c’mon, he’s gonna be the 25th man. Let’s get real here.

Peterson hit .195/.308/.325 in 200 at-bats for the Orioles last season. That’s not good, but he can play multiple positions in the infield and outfield. He can’t play them particularly well, but you know that thing Casey Stengel said about how catchers are important because without them there are a lot of passed balls? Same goes for third base and stuff. Again: Orioles.

I was going to add that he was the only player in MLB history named “Jace,” but Jace Fry exists, so he doesn’t even have that distinction anymore, and that’s kind of a bummer.

Happy Thanksgiving.