Limited parking, street closures, and rooftop seats: why watching the Cubs in Wrigleyville contrasts with the plans for the Nets and AY (+ video)
In Chapter 3 of the Atlantic Yards Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS), Land Use, the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) stated:
Experience has also shown that arenas and other sports facilities thrive in combination with a strong mix of commercial and residential land uses, both as proposed elements of a larger master plan or as a catalyst for urban development.
But the examples provided aren't really on point. San Diego’s PETCO Park is part of a much larger Ballpark District. The Verizon Center in Washington DC borders mostly retail and entertainment uses.
However, there are some significant contrasts between Wrigley and the proposed Atlantic Yards arena, as I learned when I visited Chicago's Wrigley Field in July during an afternoon baseball game and took photos and a video (below).
The contrasts and insights:
- Living or visiting across the street is a boon because you can watch games
- There's very little parking, even though the stadium has more than twice the projected capacity of the arena and, while located on a transit line, is not at a transit hub
- Residential permit parking has been instituted to protect residents
- There's a vigorous private market in which residents rent their own parking spaces
- Two streets are closed during games
- A line of buses waits for the crowds
From the FEIS
The ESDC did not cite Wrigley Field in the Draft Environmental Impact Statement for Atlantic Yards, but added mention of Wrigley in the FEIS:
Another example of the compatibility of a sports facility with a residential neighborhood is Wrigley Field in Chicago, a 40,000-seat (outdoor) baseball stadium that is home to the Chicago Cubs. While most stadiums are located in economically deprived, former urban renewal areas, enterprise zones, or industrial areas away from residential neighborhoods where land is often cheaper, Wrigley Field sits in the middle of the Lakeview residential neighborhood. Wrigley Field has become a vital part of the neighborhood.
(Map is looking north. Note that the street below the stadium is Addison and the one above it is Waveland. Home plate is at the corner of Clark and Addison. The purple B's indicate bars, but it's a selective list.)
As the photos suggest, there's one immediate difference: the residential buildings on two sides of the stadium sell/rent at a premium because they're adjacent and offer rooftop views of the baseball games. No such views, of course, would be available of indoor basketball games in Brooklyn during cold weather, despite glass windows.
The FEIS continues:
But that's not necessarily the comparison. Keep in mind that that, on two sides of Wrigley Field are streets devoted to game-related retail, bars, and entertainment, as well as staging streets for a fleet of buses. (Streetcars once stopped next to the stadium entrance.) The Chicago El is nearby, as well.
[Update from a reader: While the Cubs do stack up buses for after the game, the combined capacity of those and the Red Line is far less than what goes through the Flatbush/Atlantic area in any given hour. The Chicago trains are shorter, and there are fewer total bus and train lines in the area. So AY has more capacity to draw on already and thus has a marginally lower (but only marginally lower) need for a dedicated bus area. Of course, there is also more total traffic going through (if not to) the AY area, which eats up much of that capacity—by contrast, I’d hazard that on nights when the Cubs are not playing, Wrigleyville is not notably more congested than other Chicago neighborhoods that have large concentrations of bars in them.]
Also, the two streets bordering Wrigley and residential structures are closed during games for security.
The FEIS states:
The project site is a unique location, and it is appropriate to locate an arena near a major transportation hub to facilitate mass transit to, and egress from, such a facility—similar to Madison Square Garden [MSG] in Manhattan. Patrons of the proposed arena are also expected to shop in the nearby commercial areas, and their presence would enliven the streetscapes along Atlantic and Flatbush Avenues. Therefore, the arena would be compatible with commercial and cultural (BAM) uses associated with Downtown Brooklyn to the north and west.
Yes, but MSG is in essentially a business and retail district, with numerous nearby parking garages that have space in the evening.
The FEIS states:
The New York City Zoning Resolution prohibits arenas within 200 feet of mapped residential districts predicated on the assumption that the operation of such facilities is incompatible with districts limited primarily to residential use. Primary land use compatibility issues with respect to arena and adjacent residential districts include loading dock (operations), crowd and noise controls, and signage. Accordingly, the arena has been designed to avoid and minimize the operational effects on adjacent and on-site uses to the extent feasible.
According to Chapter 19, Mitigation, of the FEIS, about 600 of the 1100 parking spaces available on-site for use by fans at a Nets basketball game would have a three or more person requirement after 5 PM on game days. The remaining 500 spaces would be dedicated to suites and premium seating. There also would be a remote parking supply "equivalent to up to 20 percent of the expected demand for each basketball game at the arena (approximately 500 spaces)," at MetroTech.
The FEIS estimates that no crosswalks would be significantly adversely impacted in 2010--after the initial putative ending date of Phase 1, the arena block.
While the taverns, restaurants, rooftop spectators and resident Cub fans clearly receive some benefit from sharing their neighborhood with the Chicago Cubs, the relationship between the ballpark and the neighborhood residents and landlords has sometimes been contentious.... The residents’ concerns extend to crime, noise, congestion, traffic, and of course parking.
Walking tour with video
You can see people on the rooftops
From Addison looking toward Sheffield, you can see people on the roof
A walk up Sheffield takes you to this corner
Across the way is the bleacher entrance
After walking along Waveland a parking lot separates the stadium from Clark Street