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

By Neil Demause; Joanna Cagan | Go to book overview

4 The Art of the Steal

The subsidy they get is totally disproportionate to the eco-
nomic benefit they bring… It would ashame Jay Gould and
his fellow robber barons of the nineteenth century. Even Geng-
his Khan got sated after a while.—Houston mayor Bob Lanier,
explaining why he had opposed public funding for a new stadium for
the Houston Oilers football team, August 1996

The result [of not using public funds] is that we won't have any
pro sports in Houston. Things might change someday, but the
reality is that if you say [no to public subsidies] in today's mar-
ket, you're below any market.—Lanier, explaining why he was
supporting public funding for a new stadium for the Houston Astros
baseball team, October 1996

Stadium deals can bring unprecedented riches to a sports team owner, but city residents tend to be unenthusiastic at first. “Sure, we love our team,” is a typical response when the stadium juggernaut rolls into a new city. “But hundreds of millions of dollars for rich owners and greedy players, when we can barely even afford to buy books for our school kids? It'll never fly.”

Yet fly it does, in city after city. Regardless of how vocal the public opposition or how cash-strapped the municipal treasury, rare is the

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

Table of contents

  • Title Page v
  • Contents ix
  • Preface to the New Edition xi
  • Introduction - The View from the Cheap Seats xiii
  • 1: A Tale of Two Inner Cities 1
  • 2: Stealing Home 27
  • 3: Ball Barons 42
  • 4: The Art of the Steal 62
  • 5: Deus Ex Pizza 83
  • 6: Home Field Advantage 103
  • 7: Local Heroes 119
  • 8: Bad Neighbors 136
  • 9: Repeat Offenders 160
  • 10: The Bucks Stop Here 182
  • 11: Winning Isn't Everything 194
  • 12: One Year 198
  • 13: The Art of the Steal Revisited 225
  • 14: Youppi! Come Home 247
  • 15: The Perfect Storm 272
  • 16: Saving Fenway 318
  • Acknowledgments 341
  • Notes 347
  • Index 389
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