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They play, you pay
03 August 2012
Springer Science+Business Media
Why Taxpayers Build Ballparks, Stadiums, and Arenas for Billionaire Owners and Millionaire Players
In They Play, You Pay: Why Taxpayers Build Ballparks, Stadiums, and Arenas for Billionaire Owners and Millionaire Players—a new book from Copernicus (a Springer company)—author James T. Bennett of George Mason University‘s Department of Economics explores the political conundrum of why governments decide to pull out all the stops in order to fund the construction of increasingly elaborate cathedrals to professional sports. Despite evidence that these projects do not generate net economic growth, politicians continue to levy a growing portfolio of taxes in order to build homes for local sports franchises, often to simply placate owners who threaten to leave for greener, more subsidy-happy pastures.
Bennett offers a sometimes irreverent view on the topic by means of a sweeping survey of literature in the field, exploring the history of such subsidies, examining the politics of stadium construction and franchise movement, and looking at the prospects for a re‑privatization of ballpark and stadium financing. Bennett ties together disparate strands in a fascinating story, examining the often colorful cases through which governments became involved in sports. These range from the well‑known to the obscure—from Yankee Stadium and the Astrodome, to the Brooklyn Dodgers’ move to Los Angeles, to such arrant giveaways as Cowboys Stadium.
They Play, You Pay also explores alternatives that might lessen the pressure for public subsidies, whether the Green Bay Packers model, or via league expansions. The book also takes a look at little-known, yet significant episodes such as President Theodore Roosevelt’s intervention in the collegiate football crisis of 1905—a move that indirectly put the federal government on the side of such basic rule changes as the legalization of the forward pass.
John Crompton, University Distinguished Professor and Regents Professor from the Department of Recreation, Park and Tourism Sciences at Texas A&M University says, "This book is highly readable—written in an accessible style for non-academics; well researched; and contains interesting anecdotes that enlighten the discussion."