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Playing the Field : Why Sports Teams Move and Cities Fight to Keep Them - Charles C. Euchner

Playing the Field

Why Sports Teams Move and Cities Fight to Keep Them

Paperback Published: 1st September 1994
ISBN: 9780801849732
Number Of Pages: 232
For Ages: 18+ years old

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Can a sports franchise "blackmail" a city into getting what it wants -- a new stadium, say, or favorable leasing terms -- by threatening to relocate? In 1982, the owners of the Chicago White Sox pledged to keep the team in Chicago if the city approved a $5-million tax-exempt bond to finance construction of luxury suites at Comiskey Park. The city council approved it. A few years later, when Comiskey Park was in need of renovation, the owners threatened to move the team to Florida unless a new stadium was built. A site was chosen near the old stadium, property condemned, residents evicted, and a new stadium built. "We had to make threats," the owners said. "If we didn't have the threat of moving, we wouldn't have gotten the deal."

"Sports is not a dominant industry in any city," writes Charles Euchner, "yet it receives the kind of attention one might expect to be lavished on major producers and employers." In Playing the Field, Euchner looks at why sports attracts this kind of attention and what that says about the urban political process. Examining the relationships between Los Angeles and the Raiders, Baltimore and the Colts and the Orioles, and Chicago and the White Sox, Euchner argues that, in the absence of public standards for equitable arbitration between cities and teams, the sports industry has the ability to steer negotiations in a way that leaves cities vulnerable.

According to Euchner, this greater leverage of sports franchises is due, at least in part, to their overall economic insignificance. Since the demands of a franchise do not directly affect many interest groups, opponents of stadium projects have difficulty developing coalitions to oppose them. The result is that civic leaders tend to succumb to the blackmail tactics of professional sports, rather than developing and supporting sound economic policies.

Industry Reviews

As Euchner shows in persuasive detail, individual sports owners as well as the leagues in whose interests they ultimately act are in a position to control the terms of debate. -- Jonathan Yardley * Washington Post * Details how owners... have shamelessly played cities against one another to get sweetheart deals for their stadiums. * Sports Illustrated. * Chapters on the Colts and Orioles in Baltimore, the White Sox in Chicago, and the Raiders in Oakland and Los Angeles... describe the sweetheart deals and legal disputes that arise when a franchise even flirts with relocating. * Chronicle Of Higher Education. *

ISBN: 9780801849732
ISBN-10: 080184973X
Audience: Professional
For Ages: 18+ years old
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 232
Published: 1st September 1994
Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 22.9 x 15.2  x 1.91
Weight (kg): 0.35

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