Why Sports Teams Move and Cities Fight To Keep Them
Professional sports, like most of our popular culture, can be understood only partly by through its exiting plays and tremendous athletes. Baseball and football most of all are not only games anymore but also hardcore businesses. As businesses, sports leagues can be as conniving, deceitful, and manipulative as any other businesses in the world. No matter what the circumstances are, it seems that Politicians are always some how right around the corner from the world of sports. These Politicians look to exploit both the cultural and the economic dimensions of the sports for their own purposes. This is what is known in the sports industry as "playing the field".
In the last decade, almost all the big cities in the United States, and a few small cities as well, have battled with each other for the right to host big league franchises. Cities spend hundreds of millions of dollars to build new stadiums and offer enticements to private franchise owners. Politicians often push for stadiums and other favors to teams despite not having support from neighborhoods and general opposition across the whole city, especially where these high dollar stadiums would be built.
Some of the most prolific franchises in sports, like the Oakland Raiders and Baltimore Colts of the National Football League, have moved to other cities breaking off their loyalty to the hometown fans. More important than the actual moves are the more frequent threatened moves. When teams "play the field" and explore the option of playing in other cities they are able to lure interested cities into giving them just about any royalty they want. New stadiums are only the beginning. The willingness to threaten departure has secured for teams a variety of land deals, lower taxes, more revenues from parking and concessions, control of stadium operations, guaranteed ticket sales, renovation of stadiums with luxury seating, control over...
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