Ballpark closure latest whiff for Newark urban renewal

Stadium failed to attract other developers to the area

From left: Gate and stadium of the Newark Bears & Eagles Riverfront Stadium
From left: Gate and stadium of the Newark Bears & Eagles Riverfront Stadium

The owners of the Newark Bears are putting the New Jersey baseball team’s assets on the chopping block  and vacating the stadium after a dismal attempt to attract fans to the Gateway City.

The $34 million Bears & Eagles Riverfront Stadium at 450 Broad Street was built in 1999 with taxpayer dollars to bring business to Newark, but the fans aren’t pouring in as expected, the Wall Street Journal reported. Last year, the stadium averaged 500 attendees a night — substantially less than the 2,000 fans needed to break even, according to the article.

Moreover, sponsors have shown little interest in supporting the team. So the Bears have dropped out of the Can-Am League and the owners are auctioning everything off, right down to the beer taps.

“It was just not possible to keep going,” co-owner Danielle Dronet told the Journal. “Newark just isn’t the kind of community where you can enjoy a game and walk around and have a drink or dinner after. We couldn’t make it work.”

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Local politicians had hoped the stadium would spark an urban renewal in Newark, fueling new construction in the area. That real estate revival has yet to materialize.

There is interest in the stadium, according to Lauren Hall, the director of marketing for the Greater Newark Convention & Visitors Bureau — but she wasn’t specific about the prospects to the Journal. [WSJ]Angela Hunt