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Field of Schemes: How the Great Stadium Swindle Turns Public Money into Private Profit, Revised and Expanded Edition Paperback – Apr 1 2008

5.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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  • Field of Schemes: How the Great Stadium Swindle Turns Public Money into Private Profit, Revised and Expanded Edition
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 424 pages
  • Publisher: Bison Books; Revised ed. edition (April 1 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0803260164
  • ISBN-13: 978-0803260160
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 2.2 x 22.9 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 68 g
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #236,761 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


“A thoughtful and comprehensive examination of the curious issue of love and money in sport.”—Frank Deford, Senior Contributing Writer at Sports Illustrated and author of The Entitled
(Frank Deford)

“A well-written and poignant analysis of America's stadium mess.”—Andrew Zimbalist, Robert A. Woods Professor of Economics, Smith College, and author of In the Best Interests of Baseball? The Revolutionary Reign of Bud Selig
(Andrew Zimbalist)

“Field of Schemes is a superb work of investigative reporting and righteous indignation. The fan pays twice: once for the stadium and again for the ticket to get into the stadium. If enough fans read it, we could break this cycle.”—Allen Barra, sports columnist for the Wall Street Journal and author of The Last Coach: A Life of Paul “Bear” Bryant
(Allen Barra 2007-03-21)

“This is as crystal clear as it gets. Field of Schemes shows exactly how your tax dollars end up in the pockets of sports team owners and players in our fake democracy.”—Jim Bouton, author of Ball Four and Foul Ball
(Jim Bouton 2007-03-21)

“If this book had been around for the Greeks to read, they would have learned that they should’ve billed Troy for the horse.”—Molly Ivins, newspaper columnist, political commentator, and best-selling author
(Molly Ivins)

"In exposing the template used by greedy owners and corrupt politicians, the authors have provided a great service for concerned public officials and fans who no longer have to sit in silence."—Christopher Keshock, NINE
(Christopher Keshock NINE)

About the Author

Neil deMause is a Brooklyn-based journalist who writes regularly for the Village Voice, Extra!, and Baseball Prospectus and runs the stadium-watch Web site fieldofschemes.com.
Joanna Cagan is a teacher and writer in New York City. She has written for numerous publications, including the Village Voice, the New York Times Magazine, and Interview.

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This readable, impressively footnoted book explores the trend of pro sports team owners budding in line in front of other social infrastructure, demanding public money under threat of leaving to build their lavish venues. The book cites extensive studies which show sports teams merely displace other spending by consumers, which is fair enough in a capitalist system - but why the intricate corporate welfare scams? It's a tale of shareholder responsibility gone absolutely mad, of government-endorsed centralization of power and money which no one on the left or right should be able to stomach after considering the facts.

It's amazing, sickening and worst of all, follows an extremely predictable pattern, currently at play at most "aging" venues near you.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0xa7327cc0) out of 5 stars 16 reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa5a9378c) out of 5 stars A Catharthis for the Abuses on the Public of Sports Team Owners Sept. 10 2014
By Roger D. Launius - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Many writers have explored the subject of how owners of sports teams persuade, cajole, threaten or otherwise intimidate state and local governments into building them at public expense magnificent sporting arenas. This is a fine example of this genre of muckraking journalism. It focuses on the large number of sports specific arenas built at public expense around the nation in the 1980s and 1990s to the tune of some $1.5 billion dollars. Since this book first appeared in 1998, this trend has continued as virtually every major league city has been held up by owners for new stadiums and indoor arenas.

Like most journalism "Field of Schemes" is best in the specifics of telling stories of individual efforts to oppose inititives to build new sports complexes. It follows the stands made against the owners in such cities as Detroit, San Francisco, Minneapolis, Baltimore, Cleveland, and Seattle. I should add that in every case a new stadium eventually was built with significant taxpayer involvement. The only small success in these fights was in San Francisco, where the Giants actually paid for the stadium but not before the city made many internal infrastructure improvements to the area.

The best part of the book is Cagan and deMause’s delineation of the steps taken by the owners to obtain new stadiums. The playbook goes like this:
1. The Home Field Disadvantage: the assertion that the current stadium is so old and in such poor shape that it simply must be replaced.
2. Faking a Move: claiming that unless the situation in the local city is remedied the owner will have no choice but to move the team.
3. Leveling the Playing Field: claims that the team is unprofitable and cannot compete effectively without a new stadium to draw fans to the game and raise revenue.
4. Playing the Numbers: commissioning one or more reports that argue that investment in a new stadium will yield a tremendous return through the creation of jobs, rise of investment in business near the stadium, and the like.
5. The Two-Minute Warning: owners setting a deadline for a decision to build a new stadium or a move of the team to another city will take place.
6. Moving the Goalposts: As agreement seems to be reached, even sometimes when the agreement is already signed, the owner demands more concessions from the city; cost overruns, technological add-ons such a retractable roof, and the like.

As my father used to say, when someone robs me, I want them to use a gun. Regardless, city after city has placated the designs of owners rather than employ the slogan from the Reagan anti-drug crusade, “Just Say No.”

It’s an interesting problem. This book is cathartic for those of us frustrated by billionaire owners sucking dry the local government, but doesn’t do much to resolve the problem. Cagan and deMause do offer two suggestions that I liked. First, force the leagues to allow public ownership of teams. The Green Bay Packers have been publicly owned by the city of Green Bay for decades and it has worked out quite well. But when Ray Kroc’s widow tried to give the San Diego Padres to the city, along with an operating trust, Major League Baseball prohibited it. Now that Donald Sterling is going to be forced to sell the Los Angeles Clippers NBA franchise—good riddance Donald—why not allow the city to become majority owner?

Second, before any deal is to be done anyplace, anywhere, with any governmental entity, force the team in question to open its books for audit. Is it really losing money; is it really unable to compete? Don’t take what the owner says at face value. Make the franchise prove it. Until elected officials grow some backbone and stare down the owners the situation will not improve and ordinary Americans will continue to subsidize these activities even as our schools and our roads and bridges and other elements of our nation crumble around us.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa5a937bc) out of 5 stars Excellent book for anyone Aug. 23 2013
By AJ - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The book is a must read for any taxpayer who may see one of these objects subsidized in his or her city or anyone who hates to seeing rich business men receive subsidies because "they can't make money." Even though the book is a couple years old, and the stories in it are older, it is unfortunately still as relevant today as it was when it was written and it will probably be relevant to for decades to come. As an economist, I was though I would get more technicalities about how promoters justify the costs against benefits, but it was not in the book. That being said, the narratives the authors create and tell are much more interesting and kept me reading. The New York City chapter is quite depressing, but the book ends with a incredible tale of Fenway park. Finally, I found this book through one of the author's blogs which goes by the same name, Field of Schemes. I would recommend that as well.
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa5a8e9c0) out of 5 stars Mandatory reading if you have a field of schemes in your backyard! April 24 2012
By Paul Krupin - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
We had a local baseball association try to get permission from the local school board to give them more than 50 percent of the school property for a baseball field expansion. The tactics in this book helped us persuade the school board not to decide in the associations favor. The decision and rationale for the decision is in the record and it makes it very difficult for any further consideration. Thank you!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa5a93930) out of 5 stars Excellent analysis of a depressing topic Aug. 14 2015
By Ralph Benton - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The stories are good, and backed by a lot of research. A good mix of facts and figures, along with illustrative quotes. But all in all, it is just depressing to see how easily our democracy is co-opted by the wealthy, and how cheaply our politicians sell themselves. Over and over and over.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa5a939d8) out of 5 stars Attention Residents of Atlanta,Sacramento, and Minneapolis! Sept. 24 2013
By Michael Ted Williams - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Excellent book that debunks the myths that sport's stadiums and arenas are good investmens for public tax dollars.The citizens of Minnesota,Sacramento, and Atlanta should read this work as they are in the process of getting fleeced.