stadiums corporate welfare
stadiums corporate welfare

Review of Field of Schemes

Field of Schemes. by Joanna Cagan and Neil deMause. Monroe, Maine: Common Courage Press, 1998. Hardcover, 200 pages plus notes and index.

reviewed by Adam J. Monroe, Jr.

A Grand Scam

I thought I wouldn't like this book. I thought I'd find the subject matter trivial, the angle of the writers, whining and its overall effect to obfuscate the real problems facing America today. I was completely wrong. First of all, with the out- of-control corporate welfare going on in America these days, how can we complain about some of it being shared by professional sports? Hey, people like professional sports! But, as I discovered, this book is about even more than stadium swindles and social blackmail. Field of Schemes is a veritable primer in how and why elected officials, corporations and the landed media are making the US into another USSR or pre-Revolutionary France. And it's a clear window through which to view the dr ama, the spiritual, emotional, psychological, social and economic effects this whirlpool deterioration is having on the American population.

Just so you'll know I'm not biased against sports, understand that I played YMCA, Little League and public school football and baseball from 4th grade through my junior year in high school and have always been a huge fan and supporter of all my hometown t eams, the Chicago Cubs, Sox, Bulls, Blackhawks and, especially, da Bears! I've attended games at Soldier Field and Wrigley Field and I rarely miss the Bears when they play on TV. It's true; I scream at the TV, jump up and down, all that. I genuinely ad mire professional football players and coaches and think that football is the greatest team sport ever invented.

Admittedly, my enthusiasm has waned in recent years, but until I read this book, I didn't really know why. As do most people, I always thought of my teams as being my teams, Chicago's teams, our teams, our heroes. But, like a kid finding o ut there's no Santa Claus, I have, lately, become increasingly disenchanted as the actual owners of my teams have threatened to move out of Chicago if they didn't get their new multimillion dollar stadiums.

I was shocked that the thought of leaving a venerable, classic, legendary place like Soldier Field could even cross the mind of the man who owned the team, Mike McCaskey. What in the world was he thinking? Had he no respect whatsoever for the game of fo otball or one of the oldest franchises and stadiums in the league? Didn't he know anything about football history? Could he not hear the ghosts of those ancient warriors whispering in the wind off Lake Michigan? I figured he had just spent too much tim e in some ivory tower and somebody would explain things to him. Then, they tore down Comiskey Park, the oldest baseball park in the world. Call me sentimental, but that just freaks me out. I can still hardly believe they actually did that. Oh, I know what you're thinking, it was probably falling apart, right? I thought so, too, at the time, but, as this book, one of the most well-documented, footnoted and thoroughly researched I have ever seen, proves beyond question, there was nothing wrong w ith it at all! The White Sox's owner just wasn't satisfied with how much profit he was taking in and knew, from what was happening around the rest of the country, that he would get his way.

Did the community put up a fight? Wow, did they ever! But, as demonstrated with the ten-year, incredibly hard-fought battle Detroit fans waged to save Tiger Stadium (only three years younger than Comiskey), real people, despite their numbers or how deep ly they might care, are often no match for the money that team owners wield, the power that government officials flagrantly bestow on the highest bidders and, especially, the treachery that media companies practice in cooperating with these disgusting, mo ney-grubbing scams.

Building new stadiums has huge economic benefits for the community, right? That's what I used to think, too. But, as I learned in Field of Schemes, that's just a big old honkin' flat out lie. This book leaves no stone unturned and, whether or no t you want to believe it, you'll see from clear and indisputable facts that new sports stadiums are actually a drain on local businesses and the community! And this isn't just because most are built completely with public revenues desperately need ed for education and infrastructure.

Aside from that, the way they're allowed to operate nowadays, their presence is actually a detriment to their localities in nearly every way other than their provision of the opportunity to witness live professional sporting events, which, though good, can't possibly make up for the economic and heart-wrenching social destruction they effect in their current manifestations. There are actually so many other amazing things I learned from this book, I could write a review as long as the book itself, so j ust take my word for it, you will be astounded.

Though it's only 200 pages long, reading Field of Schemes is like watching a multi-vehicle pile-up in slow motion close-up, with every hideous detail excruciatingly clear and in full color, except, in this case, it isn't just people and machines yo u can see are being destroyed, it's hearts, souls and dreams, the symbols and the reality behind them which virtually define what America is supposed to be. Field of Schemes will show you the irrefutable proof of how corporations and big-money ind ividuals get the cooperation of local officials in back-room agendas that journalists are literally paid not to mention -- or haven't the guts to expose for fear of being the next writer suddenly fired and blackballed.

It isn't a bunch of hearsay, either, but documented fact after documented fact. I recommend this book very, very highly to anyone who cares about the direction in which our nation is headed. It doesn't matter whether you care about professional sports; if you care about anything, you must read this book. And keep a handkerchief nearby.

The Field of Schemes website is updated regularly with new information.
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