Summer Reading For House Leadership — “Field Of Schemes”

A message for those elected officials still supporting the PawSox stadium deal: With all the data and analysis now available (including the conclusions of Mattiello’s consultant, and PawSox mole, Andrew Zimbalist, who didn’t like stadiums until he suddenly decided he did) a ‘yes’ vote on a stadium deal allows for only one explanation. You can no longer run your mouth about it being good for business (see Forbes, see WSJ). And you can no longer pretend it will encourage development in the neighborhood and benefit anyone but the owners (see sports economist Victor Matheson and John Oliver.)

Still not convinced and need a book for the beach? Try “Field of Schemes: How the Great Stadium Swindle Turns Public Money into Private Profits” by Neil deMause and Joanna Cagan. It came out in 2008!

Field of Schemes is a play-by-play account of how the drive for new sports stadiums and arenas drains $2 billion a year from public treasuries for the sake of private profit. While the millionaires who own sports franchises have seen the value of their assets soar under this scheme, taxpayers, urban residents, and sports fans have all come out losers, forced to pay both higher taxes and higher ticket prices for seats that, thanks to the layers of luxury seating that typify new stadiums, usually offer a worse view of the action.
The stories in Field of Schemes, from Baltimore to Cleveland and Minneapolis to Seattle and dozens of places in between, tell of the sports-team owners who use their money and their political muscle to get their way, and of the stories of spirited local groups—like Detroit’s Tiger Stadium Fan Club and Boston’s Save Fenway Park!—that have fought to save the games we love and the public dollars our cities need.

I learned of this book courtesy of the formidable Arlene Violet who has joined the battle opposing any stadium deal. This is excellent news. You definitely want this former RI Attorney General, and Sister of Mercy, — God sees what you’re doing Nicholas — on your side. For Providence residents wondering how on earth this boondoggle is playing in the rest of the state, fear not. Attorney Violet has a fearsome intellect, a finely tuned b.s. filter, and the loyalty of a crucial demographic (oldsters who write, call, and vote). Violet is covering the issue in The Valley Breeze; in “‘King Tuts’ wish to turn your money into their profits” she describes the various misrepresentations coming out of team ownership in the “listening tour” and the new catch phrase that the millionaires have told everyone to repeat ad nauseum.

So, with the wheels coming off the greedy proposal originally seeking, in effect, a total subsidy covering all costs and risks to the owners, the taxpayer is now being serenaded by the House Speaker with a sweet tune that any proposal would have to be “revenue neutral.”

Know this, if anyone uses the phrase “revenue neutral” in conversation with you, they are working with, or for, the PawSox. (And if you believe Mattiello’s story about the two random shopping ladies in Garden City then you must be “frontal lobe neutral.”)

(Big thanks to Andrew Stewart of RI Future. He’s been doing a great job and brought the Violet story to my attention in “Larry Lucchino’s Losing Record in San Diego.”)

5 thoughts on “Summer Reading For House Leadership — “Field Of Schemes””

  1. There’s so much stuff coming out on this topic it’s hard to keep up!

  2. Brian Heller

    “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world.
    Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

    — Margaret Meade

  3. John McGrath

    Wonderful post but will make no difference. Matilello has stated that “the people” want this deal and he will bend to the will of the people (a few conversations with chums). The fix is in. Many will realize this is a horrible deal but they will fear taking on Matiello because of the revenge he will take. This is RI, that’s how things are run.

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