Trying to add some academic elements to the issues that surround the Stadium debate, I stumbled across this little gem.
If You Build It, We Won’t Leave: Turner’s social drama in newspaper coverage of stadium construction controversies.
Drexel University, USA
Journalism Studies, Volume2, Number 3, 2001, pp. 373–392
ABSTRACT Controversy over the construction of new professional sports stadiums has occurred with such regularity that it now amounts to a “ritual”, using the definition developed by anthropologist Victor Turner. The process that begins with a team expressing its desire for a new stadium and concludes with the construction of that stadium has all the markings of a “social drama”. Playing a key role in this social drama are print journalists working in cities where stadium controversies unfold. Using a case study approach, I explore the social drama of stadium construction in Philadelphia, New York, and New England. News coverage in these markets reveals the four stages of social drama: breach, crisis, redressive action, and reintegration.
Team owners manufacture the breach, with the help of government officials who do not want to see franchises move elsewhere. Crisis emerges out of negative reactions to plans for a new stadium. Team and governmental officials then use very public means to try to bring the crisis to an end. Often, they fail in this attempt, and the parties are once again enveloped in crisis. New alliances, often built on cooperation between former opponents, emerge as the parties try to end the crisis. My analysis reveals that journalists in these cities have acted as agents of reintegration. They move from criticizing to endorsing these stadium projects. The narrative that emerges gives the impression that everyone agrees on the need for the new facility, and that construction, though it may be delayed while the parties come together, is inevitable. My findings can help journalists to take a critical look at their coverage of stadium controversies, and to explore the impact of the coverage on their relationship with the communities they serve.
With respect to both Stadium NZ and the new Carisbrook, there has definitely been a narative for their respective stories. Admittidly, the Stadium NZ debate seemed to be a Shakespearian farce on speed, this article provides interesting insight to how the media and other actors behave in telling these stories.
I’m going to do my best to paraphrase this article.
Coverage of stadium controversies revolves around the four stages of social drama discussed by Turner (1974, pp. 38–42): breach, crisis, action, and reintegration.
A breach occurs when a person or group of persons engages in a “deliberate nonfullment of some crucial norm regulating the intercourse of the parties” (p. 38). Here, team officials convince residents that anyone who questions the need for a new stadium is preventing a city from fulfilling an implied promise to fans to keep its professional teams happy and playing in their city. Turner claims “to out such a norm is one obvious symbol of dissidence” (p. 38). Violating this norm represents “a symbolic trigger of confrontation or encounter” (p. 38). The person committing the breach feels that he or she is acting on behalf “of other parties, whether they are aware of it or not” (p. 38). Activists who take issue with stadium plans believe they are protecting the interests of residents, but their actions receive sporadic attention from journalists early in the controversy. Later, they play more prominent roles in the social drama.
Following the breach, a crisis ensues. Relationships among the parties deteriorate. Unless it is quickly remedied, the breach worsens “until it becomes coextensive with some dominant cleavage in the widest set of relevant social relations to which the conficting or antagonistic parties belong” (p. 38). The crisis in stadium controversies is largely manufactured. City and team officials contend that a new stadium means economic growth for all. Controversy about a stadium project is framed by city officials and journalists as threatening a city’s social fabric…
To end the crisis, leaders take redressive action. They do everything from informal mediation to engaging in public ritual to achieve consensus. Their methods vary, depending on the “depth and shared social significance of the breach, the social inclusiveness of the crisis, the nature of the social group within which the breach took place, and the degree of autonomy with reference to wider or external systems of social relations” (p. 39). Since a stadium crises unfolds publicly, the methods used to end them will also be quite public…
If the redressive actions are effective, reintegration of the social group may occur. The parties embroiled in the crisis may realize that the gap between them is irreparable. Inevitably, the relations between groups will have changed. “Oppositions may be found to have become alliances, and vice versa,” Turner notes (p. 42). “Some parts will no longer belong to the field, others will have entered it.” New rules, generated to end the crisis, replace old rules. “The distribution of the factors of legitimacy will have changed, as also the techniques used by leaders to gain compliance,” Turner argues (p. 42). In short, it is a time for leaders (and researchers) to “take stock,” to “compare what is with what was” (p. 42). The nature of the relationships among parties will have changed.
the full text of this article can be found at;
Although American and Kiwi media organistations are very different beasts, playing to different audiences, this article provides valuable insight into how journalism uses a story like the Stadium.