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Cushman & Wakefield Launches Sports Arena/Development District Advisory Branch

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D.C. United Audi Field
The view of Audi Field from the corner of Second and R streets SW on the day of its grand opening

Cushman & Wakefield is looking to establish itself in the increasingly lucrative world of sports-centric commercial development.

Cushman announced on Monday the launch of a new sports and entertainment advisory team to assist arena-building entities with every part of the development process, both for the venue itself and the surrounding area, Crain's Chicago Business reports.

The Chicago-based commercial real estate services firm and W Partners, a joint venture of Chicago Cubs Chief Sales and Marketing Officer Wally Hayward and the Cubs-owning Ricketts family, will be partners on the venture. In a fitting move, two former college football players in Cushman's ranks will lead the new group: Senior Managing Directors Craig Cassell and Michael Sessa.

Cushman joins two of its contemporaries, CBRE and JLL, in establishing a sports-focused division, underscoring how widespread the concept of a stadium or arena anchoring a development district has become. One of the first successful iterations of the idea was spearheaded by W Partners in the neighborhood surrounding the Cubs' home of Wrigley Field, according to Crain's.

Partnerships have been the most common way for teams to reap the economic benefits of their new arenas in the past few years. The Atlanta Braves formed a development company of its own to help build The Battery at SunTrust Park, a mixed-use complex with residential, hotel, retail and office components that has seen early success.

A similar transformation has occurred around Nationals Park in Washington D.C., success that soccer club D.C. United is hoping to replicate at its new Audi Field. So far, developments have cropped up without help from the team, a situation that it hopes to change with a $200M mixed-use development it is currently shopping.

The Golden State Warriors have also taken ownership stakes in some of the developments surrounding its nearing-completion arena in San Francisco's Mission Bay, most notably with Uber at the ride-sharing company's new headquarters. Cushman is already a licensed leasing agent for 100K SF of retail space in the area, Crain's reports.

Cushman also leases retail space in the area surrounding the Sacramento Kings' Golden 1 Center, which opened in 2016, and handles facilities management for the New England Patriots' Gillette Stadium, according to Crain's.

W Partners focuses on bringing in sponsorship partners with teams for surrounding construction; together, the two companies hope to cover a broader spectrum of related services, becoming something like a one-stop shop for arena districts.