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From the cover of Field of Schemes tions Workers of America Local 4309 in Cleveland. “None of them are jobs that the mayor hugs his kids and says, ‘I hope you can get one of those jobs someday.'” Meanwhile, several studies indicate a tremendous “opportunity cost” in the hundreds of millions of dollars in tax money that could have been spent elsewhere. The Cleveland Teachers Union has calculated that tax breaks given to the sports complex project has drained $3.5 million from the school system. \(By contrast, a recent New York Times article reports the Indians’ company revenue has more than doubled since the opening of Jacob’s Field, and net income has jumped from less than $4 million in 1993 to a typical scenario,” the authors explain, “a municipality will float hundreds of millions of dollars in municipal bonds in order to afford the massive initial expenditure and then pay off the bonds with increased taxes, lotteries or even general city funds…. By shackling themselves to these massive debts \(and often massive cost lowed the further deterioration of local schools, roads, and public services.” Meanwhile, just about every source of cash, from tickets’ to hot dogs to advertising, that should benefit the building’s owner the municipality instead brings riches to the team’s owner. Even name-lease rights \(which in exchange for millions, turn a sporting venue into a giant billboard with a corporate name like considered part of the team’s revenue, even when the stadium is publicly owned. In 1966, the stadium that introduced the world to Astroturf and indoor baseball the Houston Astrodome also invented “luxury boxes,” which have been a driving force behind stadium construction ever since. “Over the course of the twentieth century … no innovation can match the luxury box for sheer money-making power, with out improving either the quality of the game or the enjoyment of the average fan,” the authors write. “Along with their cousins, the club seats sort of an open-air corporate suite of prime seats with expanded legroom and waiter service luxury boxes are about money, pure and simple.” Meanwhile, the seats Joe Taxpayer can afford are pushed further away. Luxury boxes and club seats represent additional corporate tax breaks, since they are deductible as business entertainment expenses: up to 40 percent of the price of corporations’ purchases are underwritten by the federal government. With some new stadiums boasting as many as 200 boxes renting at up to $70,000 per season, perhaps another $5 million annually in indirect public subsidies will thereby be transferred to team-owner pockets. Yet owners in every professional sport continue to act like spoiled brats, demanding what the other kids have, and given the willingness of government officials to ignore public opinion and economic realities, and to fork over millions, the taxpayers can hardly blame the owners for asking. A new arena is, hands down, the biggest valuebooster for a sports team, drawing in curious fans and yielding millions of extra dollars in luxury-box receipts and advertising revenue. According to Financial. World magazine, those yearning to make a killing in the sports world should find a team that meets three criteria: low current revenues, no new stadium yet in the works, and an easily breakable lease. and deMause know first hand sorely sports fans’ love for teams has been tested by franchises demanding money loyalty.” \(I’ve known Joanna Cagan since our college years, and can personally vouch for her devotion to deed, the book’s strength lies in the stories of spirited fans like Frank Rashid, co-founder of the Tiger Stadium Fan Club in Detroit, and John Aranza and Hallie Amey of Save Our Sox in Chicago. Community activists and sports aficionados have been brought together as unlikely allies, by their cities’ plans to gut historic ballparks plans which show no regard for history, the surrounding neighborhoods, or the taxpayers. In the great stadium swindle, the little guys generally lose. “We did everything we could do, legally and politically,” says Rashid after losing his battle to save Tigers Stadium. “We used the system. We tried to believe in the system. I don’t believe in the system anymore…. If you don’t have money and power, the system will not work for you that’s one thing I’ve learned.” Despite Rashid’s somber assessment, Field of Schemes closes with the authors’ defiant optimism: a belief that if enough people are armed with the truth, they can stop the millionaire owners and politicians from the professional pocket-picking that is destroying cities and ruining the teams that bear their names: “The effective blackmail that professional teams wield over cities is not good, it is not correct, and it is not eternal. It is the consequence of a particular state of affairs in which public agencies have, become beholden to private power. It can be changed, and it’s worth changing.” Lisa Tozzi. is. an Austin writer, assistant politics editor at the Austin Chronicle, and a. baseball fan. She confesses havingonce . occupied a stadium luxury box. C agan how their “free-agent as proof of JULY 3, 1998 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 29