July 3, 2006



Your analysis titled ‘Baseball stadium comparisons’ was passed on to me for comment.

I’ve always found it interesting how fairly concrete statistics can always be manipulated to prove a point.

When you look at population, you chose to ignore that the Pensacola businesses, including the Pelicans, aren’t limited by city limits. Most economists and business owners would look at the MSA population figure in determining potential customers for their business.


Pensacola MSA population is 436,210 (2004 estimate). This would make all of these cities a fair comparison based on population.

But let’s say that’s too much for this analysis. Instead let’s just include the South Santa Rosa county zip codes that will be within quick driving range of a downtown baseball park – 32561 20,967; 32566 26,061 (2000 census) That will get the potential fan base up to a minimum of 102,000 – we were to project the 20% growth in Santa Rosa population in the past five years this number may be as high as 111,000.

Using this population number, Charleston, Greenville, Chattanooga and Montgomery are very fair comparisons, especially when you consider the size of the proposed park versus their facilities.

For example:
Charleston – 5500 park/97,000 pop.  5.7% of population
Chattanooga – 6400/155,000 4.1%
Greenville – 5000/56,000 9.5%
Montgomery – 7000/200,000  3.5%
Pensacola – 3500/102,000  3.4%


So let’s rule out your objection that there isn’t a sufficient fan base to support a downtown baseball park and that we can’t make a comparison with these other parks.


Note: I believe it’s a major flaw in your analysis that you overlook the capacity of the proposed park and that it would take less than more 1900 fans to fill it to capacity. (Current paid attendance average is 1,645.)

The second point of your analysis is that the team is currently in an independent league and that teams in such leagues are unsuccessful. Then you conveniently rule out the one team that disproves your argument. 

The 1,645 fans on average attend the current games that are played in a sub-standard park with few amenities in an out-of-the-way location. These fans don’t care if the team is affiliated with major leagues or not.

Are people staying away because the team isn’t affiliated? I think not and there isn’t any data to prove locals are. It’s location that’s the major factor.

However, the chances of the Pelicans becoming an affiliated team increase greatly if the new park is built so this argument against the park could quickly vanish. Joining the South Atlantic League becomes a real possibility.

Your third point is that few small baseball franchises have sustained success. You support your position by pointing to the Florida State League that has an average attendance of about 1300 less than the Pelicans current average.

I find it interesting that you’re using an affiliated league to prove you this point. Could it be that affiliation or independence really isn’t that important after all?

However, be that as it may, the Florida State League has subsidized teams whose communities make their money hosting MLB teams for spring training. They do few promotions during the season and care less about their minor league product. It’s a very different business model.

We will not agree on the baseball park component of the Community Maritime Park, but I do believe looking at what minor league parks have done for such cities as Greenville, Charleston, et al, do give us an indication of the potential positive impact of this proposal.


In the end, the voters will take both of our analysis and make their own decision.



  1. Glenn Griffith Says:

    I don’t see why people are opposed to sending out a national RFP. The development of that property is to important for the area to simply go with the first and only proposal to com along. And it certainly smacks of cronie-ism and good-ole-boy-ism when the only proposal is from a local consortium of stakeholders. I am not completely against a ballpark. But I do think that for the long term health and revitalization of the city economy on the whole that a state of the art, high value lease office corporate type complex that can attract an industry sector that could define Pensacola would be infinatelty more productive than a baseball stadium built by locals. If the proponents of the park are so confident that this is the highest and best use for that property than let it stand up to some competitive proposals. Multi level corporate office space coupled with a first floor retail, restaurant, park and marina, and I like the Maritime Museum at this location, water taxi, waterfront bike/walking/running sidewalk connecting from the BAy Bridge to Navy Boulevard.

    I would certainly go to a game or two every year, most likely. But is that the best use for that property? I don’t believe so. I believe that benefits a few of the high powered and influencial in the area. But looking years into the future after the ballpark is finished, I foresee a wasted, little used facility. Instead if corporate office and business spaces built, then maybe Pensacola can attract an industry sector much the same that Jacksonville has banking headquarters or Chicago has insurance. We have a strong health care presence now, maybe that is an idea.

    My final thought is that either way this thing goes, the proponents of the park should not take the stance that just because people would like to see some diffeent ideas for the property, that doesn’t me they are under some kind of attack. If you want to proceed without the appearence of improprieties and backroom wheeling and dealing by the local well connected in crowd, than welcome other proposals, compare and may the best idea

  2. InterestedBystander Says:

    I can’t speak to most of the above comments, but there is one thing I think most people don’t realize and that is the fact that there will be little if any interest in developing this property from national developers. Why? Because of the two referendums (the only two in the City’s history, if my memory serves me correctly) that you have gone/are going through over this property. Developers aren’t going to be willing to spend time and money wrestling a project through your City Council when they know activist groups are laying in the weeds to (again) kill the deal. There’s too many other opportunities out there without the hassle associated with this project.

    In many respects, the only people who should be willing to go through this would be people who exactly fit your current proposers’ profile: successful in other business ventures, just enough development knowledge to be dangerous, and extremely passionate about your city.

    To be fair, it should be noted that there is a lot of interest in Downtown Pensacola from national developers because someone else might develop the park property (believe me, I’ve spoken to many who are watching closely, including myself), but there aren’t and won’t be many interested in the property itself. In that regard, the opponents of the project have already succeeded. It will really be a shame if nothing happens to this property; developing it and moving your sewer plant would open the floodgates redeveloping your downtown core.

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