Field of Schemes: How the Great Stadium Swindle Turns Public Money into Private Profit

Field of Schemes: How the Great Stadium Swindle Turns Public Money into Private Profit

Field of Schemes: How the Great Stadium Swindle Turns Public Money into Private Profit

Field of Schemes: How the Great Stadium Swindle Turns Public Money into Private Profit

Synopsis

Field of Schemes is a play-by-play account of how the drive for new sports stadiums and arenas drains $2 billion a year from public treasuries for the sake of private profit. While the millionaires who own sports franchises have seen the value of their assets soar under this scheme, taxpayers, urban residents, and sports fans have all come out losers, forced to pay both higher taxes and higher ticket prices for seats that, thanks to the layers of luxury seating that typify new stadiums, usually offer a worse view of the action. The stories in Field of Schemes, from Baltimore to Cleveland and Minneapolis to Seattle and dozens of places in between, tell of the sports-team owners who use their money and their political muscle to get their way, and of the stories of spirited local groups-like Detroit's Tiger Stadium Fan Club and Boston's Save Fenway Park!-that have fought to save the games we love and the public dollars our cities need. This revised and expanded edition features the first comprehensive reporting on the recent stadium battles in Washington DC, New York City, and Boston as well as updates on how cities have fared with the first wave of new stadiums built in recent years.

Excerpt

When we sat down to begin reporting the articles that ultimately became the first edition of this book, we were only dimly aware that we were witnessing the beginnings of an epochal shift in the sports landscape. In more and more cities, owners of sports teams were demanding new publicly financed stadiums at hundreds of millions of dollars a pop, even as local governments pleaded poverty when it came time to allocate funds for such trivialities as schools or libraries. It seemed a curious moment in the worlds of both sports and urban politics, and we set out to document it before it disappeared.

That moment was now almost twelve years ago, and the little trend that we noticed then has become a massive industry. No one keeps reliable figures on how much taxpayer money goes to building new homes for sports teams—though this book details some of the best guesses—but it's certainly now in the neighborhood of $2 billion a year. The reasons given are largely the same: Sports subsidies are good for economic development, the old place is obsolete, you'll lose your team if you don't build one. And, as we explain here, they're still almost entirely bogus—as when, for example, Florida Marlins team president David Samson declared a series of “firm” deadlines for state legislators to approve a stadium deal, and then, when no cash was forthcoming, simply waited a year and tried again.

This newly expanded edition of Field of Schemes picks up where the previous one left off, with four new chapters that investigate some of the most notable stadium and arena controversies of the new millennium. Chapter 13, “The Art of the Steal Revisited,” covers the tricks of the trade of stadium seekers, and how they've changed (and more often, haven't) over the years. Chapter 14, “Youppi! Come Home,” details what baseball business writer Doug Pappas dubbed the Stadium Extortion . . .

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