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

By Neil Demause; Joanna Cagan | Go to book overview

9 Repeat Offenders

Sports is a way of life, like eating. People say, “You should pay
to feed the homeless.” But the world doesn't work that way.
Minnesota Twins owner Carl Pohlad

Credit Seattle's team owners and local politicians with audacity, if nothing else. In five years the city's two professional sports franchises went up for sale, threatened to leave town, and wrangled huge public deals for new stadiums from a concerned populace. Twice they were met by a spirited, never-say-die opposition that maintained its multi-pronged attack long after deals were signed and funds committed. When the dust cleared and the bonds were issued, the lawsuits thrown out of court and the public referenda ignored, King County taxpayers would be left with one of the most enormous sports debts in recent history—close to $1 billion and counting for new homes for baseball's Mariners and football's Seahawks.

The first fight began in the early 1990s, over the fate of the Mariners. Saddled with what he claimed were insurmountable debts and a dwindling fan base, team owner Jeff Smulyan put the club up for sale in the winter of 1991. Early fears that the team would leave Seattle for greener pastures—presumably one of the southern cities then making overtures to Major League Baseball—were assuaged when the Baseball Club of Seattle bought the Mariners for more than $100

-160-

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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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