I’m going to be traveling the next week and a half, so posts here may be lighter than usual. (Or may not be; I’m told they do have the internet where I’m going.) Please use the comments for this post as your open thread for anything that comes up that I don’t immediately address, and normal programming will resume on the 21st.
I usually try to make my semi-annual call for FoS Supporters — that’s my special term for you folks who help keep this site running by kicking in a few bucks in exchange for some cheap trinkets, ad space, and a warm feeling of helping make the world a better or at least more informed place — in June when readers aren’t all off on vacation, but I missed that target this year, so instead I’m going to have to SHOUT EXTRA LOUD to get your attention!!! And, because I’m feeling in an extra-generous mood, show you a video of a cat climbing up the outfield wall at the Miami Marlins‘ stadium:
For those who are new to the world of FoS Supporters, there are three membership levels, each with different rewards:
For $50, Six-Month Supporters get everything above plus the ability to place an ad in the top-right banner space, which will be viewed on a rotating basis with other member ads. (I’ll help design the ad if you have an idea but no graphic design skills.)
For $100, One-Year Supporters get everything above, but the ad banner stays in place for one year.
Mostly, though, your support is what enables me to take the time to keep reporting on stadium and arena shenanigans on a daily basis, as well as pursuing extra projects like the FoS 20 interview series (I just recorded the fourth installment yesterday, and it’s a good one) and moving this site to a more robust server, something that’s been on my agenda for a while now but has been awaiting a free weekend or two to arrange all the logistics. I continue to be amazed and moved by the fact that you all are willing and seemingly eager to chip in to help with this project that shows no signs of winding down as it enters its third decade.
So whether or not you choose to become a member or renew your membership this time around, seriously, thank you from the bottom of my heart for reading, for commenting, and for sending me the latest jaw-dropping stadium news items. Money is great — it literally pays the bills! — but a community of people eager to debate the modern sports stadium game is priceless. Thanks for coming along for the ride.
Now that I’ve kicked off the Field of Schemes 20th anniversary celebration with my Roger Noll interview, it’s time to remind FoS readers that this site — or, at least, my ability to devote the time to updating this site each morning — exists thanks to your support, or more specifically the support of those of you who chip in as FoS Supporters. I’m really proud to have kept this site going for two decades without resorting to paywalls or what have you, and I’m equally proud of you all for allowing me to do so via your generosity, in exchange for a few trinkets and that warm fuzzy feeling of helping call attention to the ongoing stadium subsidy madness. Seriously: Thanks, everyone who has ever donated, or retweeted, or commented, because I literally could not do this without you — and not just in the millennial sense.
As a reminder, here’s the stuff you get when you become an FoS Supporter:
For $50, half-year supporters get everything except the mug, and the ad space only lasts for (wait for it) half a year.
For $25, minisupporters get the pin, cards, and ebook, but not the mug or ad space.
If you want the goodies to wing their way to your door, please remember to include your mailing address in the notes field; if you don’t want any goodies, just say “no goodies” and you’ll receive only a thank-you email.
This April will mark 20 years since the publication of the first edition of Field of Schemes, which was the same month (more or less) that saw the launch of the first embryonic form of this website. Which means that, depending on how you choose to look at it, either we should be celebrating two decades of examining the strange world of sports subsidies and educating the world about it, or bemoaning that this is taking a lot longer than we thought.
We’re going to have some special programming here this year to mark the anniversary, which I hope to announce more about in the next week or two. But for now, let me just speechify for a second about the view from 20 years in:
As I’ve noted many times in various radio appearances over the years, when Joanna Cagan and I first got the idea for our book, we thought that we were capturing a snapshot of a peculiar moment in time, where we’d one day look back and think, Man, remember those days when cities were throwing public money at private stadium and arena deals? Was that a trip or what? Needless to say, that’s not quite how it’s worked out: We actually were capturing the first glimpse of the new normal, a world where getting public cash for erecting building after building is seen as an integral part of the sports business model, not to be given up until it’s clawed from team owners’ cold dead fingers.
While some things have changed over the years — in particular, the age at which sports venues can be declared obsolete with a straight face continues to plummet towards zero — the basic rules of the game have remained remarkably consistent: It’s why, when we wrote the most recent update to the book, the chapter “The Art of the Steal” running down the standard stadium playbook only needed to be updated with “The Art of the Steal Revisited,” noting more recent examples of the same tactics. I’ve come up with some innovations in describing this mess — that first edition didn’t feature any references to vaportecture or the Casino Night Principle — but, despite occasional glimmers of hope, the mess itself has remained largely unchanged, except for the dollar figures reaching ever more skyward.
All of which is to say, we’re all probably stuck with each other for a while yet. I know I didn’t plan on this being my life’s work (well, part of my life’s work, anyway) way back in 1995 when Joanna and I first discussed writing a short article drawing parallels between stadium plans in New York and Cleveland, but here we are, and I’m not about to give up show business now. So strap in, ready your best Nelson Muntz laugh, toss a couple of shekels in the tip jar if you see fit, and I’ll work on getting that special programming ready — because if you can’t celebrate being trapped in the same national nightmare for 20 years, what can you celebrate?
This has been a bit of an up-and-down year for this site — thanks to my Village Voice responsibilities, I’ve been more pressed for time than usual, which means the breadth of coverage here hasn’t been quite as sweeping as in the past. (If you’ve been waiting on the latest about plans for a new minor-league arena in Richmond, my apologies.) I’m tentatively hopeful for a saner work schedule in the coming months, so the posts here should be a bit more consistent going forward.
So with it being time for my biannual funding appeal, I’d like to offer supporters of this site something that is 1) special and 2) easy for me to fulfill, so you don’t end up waiting on me to find free time to learn how to silkscreen T-shirts or anything. (Brooklyn WarsKickstarter backers, sorry about that.) And I think I’ve come up with something good: An updated version of the Field of Schemes coffee mug that I used to offer here for sale. I still need to finalize the design (CafePress redid their templates since I did this last, so I’m waiting on getting a sample first), but it’ll look something like this:
I have one of the originals in my cupboard, and I can vouch that it’s held up beautifully through hundreds of trips through the dishwasher. (If you can’t make out the quote, it’s economist Allen Sanderson’s classic “If you want to inject money into the local economy, it would be better to drop it from a helicopter than invest in a new ballpark.”)
Since these are a bit pricier to produce and ship, they’ll only be available to those who choose the $100 one-year full supporter level. For that, you’ll also get a Field of Schemes Supporter pin, a set of Field of Schemes stadium trading cards, an e-book copy of my 2016 book The Brooklyn Wars, and one year of ad space (running in rotation with other site supporters) in the top right corner of this page — provide your own 90×250-pixel ad, or talk to me and I’ll whip something up. And, of course, the knowledge that you’re supporting the work I do here, because those Google ads don’t really pay the bills.
Don’t have $100 to spare? That’s fine — you can also do a $50 six-month membership, and get everything above except the mug. Or a $25 one-year minisupporter membership, and get everything except the mug and the ad space.
Confused? Click here for a simple list of the goodies you receive at each member level. Or just look in your wallet, see how much spare change you have, and then click the appropriate button below. I’m appreciative for anything you can give — and for those who can’t give anything, thanks for continuing to read and comment and share and give purpose to this site. I like to think it’s had at least some impact over the last — wait, has it really been almost 20 years? Crap, I’d better come up with some really cool swag for 2018…
With this year finally winding down, that means it’s time for my semi-annual site supporters’ drive, where you send me money so I can keep on doing what I do here and I send you various tangible and intangible goodies. For 2017, the tchotchke tally will amount to:
Full supporters ($100 for one year, $50 for six months) continue to get a free banner ad at the top right-hand corner of this site — either supply your own 250×90 image, or I can design one for you. I reserve the right to reject inappropriate or inaccurate messages, though that’s never happened yet.
All full supporters will now receive a signed paperback copy of my new book The Brooklyn Wars, which features much investigation of my home borough’s new basketball arena and minor-league baseball stadium and their effect on development, plus other tales of the evolution of the world’s trendiest borough.
Everyone, including both full supporters and $25 mini-supporters, gets: a one-inch members-only pin (pictured at right); two limited-edition sets of stadium trading cards (one now, the other when I finish it, which will be real soon now I promise); and a reprint of issue #9 of Brooklyn Metro Times, the self-published zine containing the article by myself and Joanna Cagan that sent us down the road to our book and this site. Plus an electronic copy of The Brooklyn Wars in PDF, ePub, or Kindle format.
And if that’s not enough, you also get the warm, fuzzy feeling that comes with knowing that I can take the time to keep bringing you daily news about the gotta-laugh-to-keep-from-crying world of stadium subsidies, which seems determined to keep on going indefinitely, despite a lot of people’s best efforts to declare it terminally stupid. And my eternal thanks, which I really do mean from the bottom of my heart — news blogging can be a lonely enterprise, and hearing from you all via your comments and emails and tweets and Grants and Benjamins helps me remember that this is important to you all, and that hopefully I’m performing a useful service by providing the latest news and analysis and a place to make crappy Simpsons-reference jokes about it.
Click the button below if you care to begin or renew a supporters’ subscription. And if you pay with Paypal, please remember to enter your mailing address under instructions, so that I can send you stuff without having to ask. (Who am I kidding — nobody is going to remember, and I’ll just email you. That’s fine.)
Thanks, have a happy holidays, and see you back here shortly with more news.
UPDATE: If you were having any trouble with the payment button earlier, try again — it should be working now.
I’m going to be on the road the next week and a bit, so posts will likely be more sporadic than usual — if the Arizona Diamondbacks threaten to move to Moncton or something, I’ll be sure to chime in, but less urgent news will need to wait until I get back. Consider this to be your open-thread item to talk amongst yourselves on anything that needs discussing while I’m gone, and try not to break the furniture. Regular programming will resume on August 30.
It’s that time again: My biannual appeal for you, the faithful Field of Schemes readers, to kick some money in towards letting me take the time each morning to scour the stadium-and-arena-shenanigans world and bring it to you on a platter of snark. In exchange, you get not only the warm feeling that you are allowing me to continue to cover these issues without worrying about how it’s taking time away from paying the electric bill, but you will also receive various rewards for your generosity:
Mini-Supporters ($25 for a year) get a Field of Schemes Supporter button, a reprint of the original zine article that launched Joanna and I to research and write our book, and both the original series of FoS stadium cards plus a new series that I’ll be designing this summer using the latest tragic hilarity from the stadium world. (If I can get good photos, the Texas Rangers’ stadium-that-may-be-torn-down-after-22-years-because-it-lacks-air-conditioning is a must.)
Half-Year Supporters ($50 for six months) get everything above, plus six months of ad space in the fieldofschemes.com right banner section (I’ll design an ad for you if you don’t have an image in mind), plus a PDF copy of my upcoming book, The Brooklyn Wars, once it’s available in September. (It’s not all about stadium deals, but stadiums are far more integral to Brooklyn’s transformation, and in less expected ways, than I realized when I first started writing the book two summers ago.)
Full-Year Supporters ($100 for 12 months) get everything the half-year supporters do, but a full year of banner ad space. Plus a full year of my complete gratitude!
Thanks to everyone who can pitch in, to everyone who has pitched in during the past, and everyone who just contributes to the site by commenting, retweeting, or sharing on Facebook. I would have quit this long, long ago if it weren’t for you all, so I like to think you’re making the world a better place — or at least a more amusingly disillusioning one.
To start or renew a membership, please make a selection from the pulldown menu below and click “Pay Now.” And don’t forget to write your mailing address in the comments field of the resulting Paypal form, so I know where to send your goodies:
I know that crowdfunding is an accepted thing now, but I am still honored and humbled by the fact that enough of you are willing to chip in to support this site — a site you could read for free with no shame, and which thousands of other people do — that this has become, while not exactly a wildly lucrative way for me to spend an hour or two each morning, at least something that isn’t leading me into total financial ruin. You people rock, and I’m not just saying that to butter you up for more donations.
That said, if you would like to join (or rejoin) our happy crew, the signup form is below. All new members will get the pin and the first series of stadium cards and the zine reprint; if I’ve already sent you some of those, you’ll still get put on the list to receive any future tchotchkes that I put together in 2016. (FoS correspondent David Dyte is jonesing to have me use some of his football stadium photos for a second card series, for one.) In addition, donors at the $50 and $100 levels will continue to get ad space in the site banner, to use for whatever you like. And I’ll be keeping my brain peeled for other appropriate rewards — if you have any requests, feel free to suggest them in comments or drop me an email.
Seriously, thanks again for all your contributions — even if it’s just by providing an informative or hilarious comment that brightens my day — both past and future. I think this site both performs an important service and provides a valuable place for those of us fascinated by the sports stadium racket to discuss the latest shenanigans, and I cannot overstate how much your participation means to me.
Okay, enough sentimentality — send me cash! (Which I’m pretty sure is what Stan Kroenke said at the NFL owners meetings this week.)
And for anyone who’d still like to get in on this, I have some card sets and zines remaining, so please consider becoming a FoS Supporter at any of the three donation levels, and I’ll send out your goodies posthaste. Reader donations really are a huge help in enabling me to take the time to bring you the latest stadium and arena news every morning, and I appreciate them more than you can imagine.
Also, while I’m at it, thanks to FoS correspondent David Dyte for providing many of the photos for the cards. And check out his two photo books of Brooklyn and Manhattan, which are well worth some cash as well.