Skip to main content

They Play, You Pay

Why Taxpayers Build Ballparks, Stadiums, and Arenas for Billionaire Owners and Millionaire Players

  • Book
  • © 2012


  • Challenges popular approach to developing sports stadiums and exposes the true costs
  • Provocative, outspoken author with a reputation for persuasive arguments for free-market approaches to current issues
  • Features colorful stories of the often antagonistic relationships among team owners, local governments and the public--from the move of the Brooklyn Dodgers to Los Angeles to Teddy Roosevelt's interference in collegiate football in 1905?

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this book

eBook USD 34.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Available as EPUB and PDF
  • Read on any device
  • Instant download
  • Own it forever
Softcover Book USD 44.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Compact, lightweight edition
  • Dispatched in 3 to 5 business days
  • Free shipping worldwide - see info

Tax calculation will be finalised at checkout

Other ways to access

Licence this eBook for your library

Institutional subscriptions

About this book

They Play, You Pay is a detailed, sometimes irreverent look at a political conundrum: despite evidence that publicly funded ballparks, stadiums, and arenas do not generate net economic growth, governments keep on taxing sales, restaurant patrons, renters of automobiles, and hotel visitors in order to build ever more elaborate cathedrals of professional sport—often in order to satisfy an owner who has threatened to move his team to greener, more subsidy‑happy, pastures.  This book is a sweeping survey of the literature in the field, the history of such subsidies, the politics of stadium construction and franchise movement, and the prospects for a re‑priva­ti­zation of ballpark and stadium financing. It 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 a privately built ballpark constructed upon land that had been seized via eminent domain from a mostly Mexican‑American population) to such arrant giveaways as Cowboys Stadium. It examines alternatives that might lessen the pressure for public subsidies, whether the Green Bay Packers model (in which the team’s owners are local stockholders) or via league expan­sions. It 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.

     They Play, You Play is a fresh look at a political and economic puzzle: how it came to be that Joe and Jane Sixpack in the Bronx and Dallas subsidize the Steinbrenners and Jerry Joneses of professional sport.

Similar content being viewed by others


Table of contents (5 chapters)

Authors and Affiliations

  • Department of Economics, George Mason University, Fairfax, USA

    James T. Bennett

About the author

James T. Bennett is Eminent Scholar and William P. Snavely Professor of Political Economy and Public Policy at George Mason University, and Director of The John M. Olin Institute for Employment Practice and Policy, where he specializes in Public Choice Theory, Political Economy, Labor Economics, and Public Policy.  Previously, he served on the faculty of George Washington University.  He is the author of dozens of scholarly articles and has served as editor of the Journal of Labor Research, on the board of the Review of Austrian Economics, and as a referee for such journals as Economic Inquiry; Review of Economics and Statistics; Public Choice; Public Finance Quarterly; Journal of Economics and Business; and American Economic Review.  He is the author or editor of more than twenty books, including From Pathology to Politics (Transaction), Unhealthy Charities (Basic Books), The Politics of American Feminism (University Press of America), Stifling Political Competition (Springer, SIPC Series), Not Invited to the Party (Springer), and The Doomsday Lobby (Springer/Copernicus).

Bibliographic Information

  • Book Title: They Play, You Pay

  • Book Subtitle: Why Taxpayers Build Ballparks, Stadiums, and Arenas for Billionaire Owners and Millionaire Players

  • Authors: James T. Bennett

  • DOI:

  • Publisher: Springer New York, NY

  • eBook Packages: Business and Economics, Economics and Finance (R0)

  • Copyright Information: Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

  • Softcover ISBN: 978-1-4614-3331-6Published: 10 May 2012

  • eBook ISBN: 978-1-4614-3332-3Published: 10 May 2012

  • Edition Number: 1

  • Number of Pages: VII, 225

  • Topics: Sports Economics, Popular Science, general

Publish with us