Non-baseball milestone shows stadium ‘about so much more’
By Dan McGowan | Inside INdiana Business
When Parkview Field opened downtown nine years ago, Fort Wayne TinCaps President Mike Nutter says executives thought non-baseball business at the $31 million stadium would have a significant impact. They didn't know how significant. During a Rotary Club of Fort Wayne meeting Monday, team officials announced they have welcomed one million special event guests since 2009. In an interview with Inside INdiana Business, Nutter says the milestone shows the venue is "about baseball, but about so much more."
Downtown development continues to be a key focus in the city's economic, quality-of-life and talent attraction efforts and Nutter says the team and people that work at the stadium feel "an amazing sense of pride" in playing a role in the growth taking place in the city's urban core. "We were welcomed into downtown before we knew whether anybody wanted us to come here, so we always try to tell all the new folks that are coming down and investing down here: you're welcome downtown," he said. "Sometimes a full parking lot and busy streets are exactly what we're all after."
Since the ball park opened, major projects including the $110 million Ash Skyline Plaza, the $34.5 million Landing project, the $34 million CityScape Flats and the $10 million Superior Lofts mixed-use development, have followed. Nutter says the Tin Caps and Parkview Field are just one part of what's gone on downtown. "When we came down, the gamechanger was that, you know, we had the great employers downtown, but very little was happening after dark, so we kind of let people know that it's safe and clean and fun down here." Just blocks from the stadium, a long-term, multi-million dollar effort is also underway to revamp the city's riverfront and redevelopment of the nearby former General Electric campus -- now called Electric Works -- is also in the works and could attract upwards of $280 million in future investment.
Nutter estimates 37 percent of business at Parkview Field last year involved business unrelated to the Tins Caps and he thinks non-baseball happenings -- business meetings, conventions, wedding receptions, community events, local sports and other gatherings -- could make up 40 percent of the venue's business by the end of the year. Last year, the Tin Caps touted their highest attendance as a franchise and Nutter says they should still be over 400,000 this year, but may not beat the record.