Small businesses up and down Jefferson Street and in Germantown supported building a new ballpark nearby hoping it would boost their revenues. Will it be the boon that they expect? Or will we actually lose businesses to new ones conveniently located on the First Tennessee Park site? St. Louis seems to be a cautionary tale. Ballpark Village seems to be luring customers away from other neighborhood establishments:
This season the crowds are bypassing the neighborhood bars… [Quoting bar owner #1]: “Everybody is down at least 20 to 30 percent if not more,” everybody that is except Ballpark Village. Crowds are just naturally drawn to the complex, which opened this year by the Cardinals and built with tax incentives and every intention of luring in baseball fans …. [Owners of successful neighborhood bars around the ballpark] sank in money for expansion in recent years. Now they’re cutting jobs. [Quoting bar owner #2]: “We’ve seen a decline in business for sure …. We’re going to have to ride it out. Cut back on staff a little bit.” [Quoting bar owner #1]: “… all of us really struggle … to keep our business and make it a success. So, when they did this, it just pulled that much more away from us.” Some owners now say their goal is just to survive the baseball season as Ballpark Village keeps packing them in.
"Just surviving" does not sound like a promising business climate for neighborhood bars and restaurants. If I owned a business in Germantown, I would be concerned about the prospect of "crowds bypassing" my establishment. Remember the dining and retail desert that settled in around antiquated Greer Stadium over the years. I hope the impact of a new ballpark is at least more positive for the neighborhoods than that.