Academia’s 2cents worth

As promised (several times actually), here’s some of the 120 published academic articles I have found on stadium related issues. Not risking copyright breaches, I’ll include all the bibliographical material, an abstract and if interesting some quotes etc.

Hope these are of some interest to some. I know they won’t be to everyone’s taste, but some of these are very very interesting and add an academic context to some of the discussions we’ve been having here. Some that were published in the 1990s and I know have been redressed I’ll chase up tomorrow when on campus.

If there’s an interest I’ll create a separate page for the inclusion of these – only 100+ to go.


New Sports Stadiums, Community Self-Esteem, and Community Collective Conscience

Rick Eckstein
Villanova University

Kevin Delaney
Temple University

Sports economists have created a sizable literature on the costs and benefits of publicly funded major-league sports stadiums. This research suggests a growing consensus that stadiums provide little economic advantage for local communities. In response, some stadium supporters have modified their tactics to increasingly avoid claims of tangible economic benefits. Instead, they insist that new stadiums offer communities more intangible social benefits. These alleged intangible benefits can take many specific forms but usually have something to do with a community’s self esteem or its collective conscience. This article draws on the authors’ primary research in 10 U.S. cities that are involved in different stages of new stadium construction. The authors demonstrate how local elites socially construct ideas such as community self-esteem and community collective conscience to help them reap large amounts of public dollars for their private stadiums.

Journal of Sport & Social Issues, Vol. 26, No. 3, 235-247 (2002)
Web Link


If You Build It, We Won’t Leave:
Turner’s social drama in newspaper coverage of stadium construction controversies

Ronald Bishop
Drexel University, USA

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 criticising 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.

Journalism Studies, Volume 2, Number 3, 2001, pp. 373–392


Not in my back yard! Sports stadia location and the property market

Larissa E Davies
Faculty of Development and Society, Sheffield Hallam University

In recent years sports stadia have been built in the UK, not only for their intended sporting purpose but with the twin aim of stimulating economic and physical regeneration. However, proposals to locate stadia in urban areas often prompt a negative reaction from local communities, fearing a decline in property prices. This paper will use a case study of the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff and the City of Manchester Stadium to illustrate that in contrast to this widely held belief, sports stadia can actually enhance the value of residential property. Furthermore, it will argue that stadia also contribute indirectly to property value through the creation of pride, confidence and enhanced image of an area.

Area (2005) 37.3, 268–276


Stadia tours and the power of backstage

Sean Gammon, Victoria Fear
The University of Luton

Stadia tours arguably represent the least researched area within the sport tourism literature. Consequently, this paper explores the reasons for the growth and popularity of this relatively new type of visitor attraction by suggesting its appeal is similar to non-sport related tours as outlined by Couldry’s (1998) analysis of the Granada studio tour in Manchester. It is argued that the success of a stadium tour is in its ability to promise and consequently reveal the authentic backstage. Moreover it is suggested that these types of tours illustrate (by use of a case study at the Millennium Stadium: Cardiff) the growing recognition of sports stadia being salient symbols of local, national and international heritage.

The stadium tour is fast becoming a significant part of many destinations’ tourism portfolios. Many sports stadia have evolved from being functional utilitarian buildings to places that hold meaning and instant recognition to both fans and non-fans alike (Bale, 1994; Gaffney & Bale, 2004). The global nature of sport has meant that such venues are fast becoming iconic symbols of place; drawing tourists to them in a similar manner to other more conventional attractions (John, 2002). However, at this time it is unclear what the draw is to such tours and what is typically offered on them. Consequently, this paper aims to gain a deeper understanding of the motives and experiences of visitors to stadium tours by referring to, and adapting Couldry’s (1998) study of soap fans to the Granada Studios Tour (GST) in Manchester. For added context an analysis of the Millennium stadium tour (Cardiff) will be included which will outline the tour design and explore the experiences of the tour visitor.

Journal of Sport Tourism 10(4), 2005, 243–252


Important Places and Their Public Faces: Understanding Fenway Park as a Public Symbol

Michael Ian Borer

Places are not only the settings for a culture’s myths, narratives, rituals, and ceremonies. Sometimes, they become the main characters. And people are drawn to those places where a culture’s narratives are not only told but play an important role in defining that town’s or city’s or nation’s character and identity, helping to remind them not only who they are but why who they are is important. Places act as reminders of a community’s identity, past, and present. As a public symbol, Fenway Park reminds the people of Boston who they were yesterday and who they are today.

The Journal of Popular Culture, Vol. 39, No. 2, 2006


Do Economists Reach a Conclusion on Subsidies for Sports Franchises, Stadiums, and Mega-Events?

Dennis Coates
Department of Economics, University of Maryland

Brad R. Humphreys
Department of Economics, University of Alberta

This paper reviews the empirical literature assessing the effects of subsidies for professional sports franchises and facilities. The evidence reveals a great deal of consistency among economists doing research in this area. That evidence is that sports subsidies cannot be justified on the grounds of local economic development, income growth or job creation, those arguments most frequently used by subsidy advocates. The paper also relates survey evidence showing that economists in general oppose sports subsidies. In addition to reviewing the empirical literature, we describe the economic intuition that probably underlies the strong consensus among economists against sports subsidies.

August 2008
Working Paper Series, Paper No. 08-18
International Association of Sports Economists
North American Association of Sports Economists


Beyond the Economic Catalyst Debate: The Importance of Consumption Benefits

Charles A. Santo
The University of Memphis

A host of empirical studies have indicated that stadiums and arenas have no significant impact on metropolitan area income or employment. In light of this evidence, the continued proliferation of public investment in sports facilities begs the question: Is there some other justification for this spending, or are policymakers simply acting against the public interest (either irrationally, or in response to political-economic influences)? A possibility that has not been fully explored is the notion that stadiums and teams generate tangible and intangible consumption benefits that could support some level of public investment. This research builds on a small foundation of literature that is moving discussion beyond the economic catalyst debate by providing an empirical measure of the consumption benefits that accrue to a region as the result of hosting a major league sports team. A contingent valuation survey is used to quantify the consumption benefits that would be associated with the relocation of a major league baseball team to Portland, Oregon. An empirical measure of the region’s aggregate willingness to pay for the benefits associated with hosting a team is disaggregated into option and existence values, which can then be compared to any proposed level of public contribution to a new stadium. The findings indicate that consumption benefits would only support a capital investment of approximately $74 million; a figure far smaller than the typical stadium subsidy. The majority of projected benefits are associated with expected public goods and externalities, rather than anticipated attendance, indicating that an equitable financing plan should employ nonuser revenue sources. The level of projected benefits does not vary by locality within the metropolitan area, which argues for a regional cost-sharing approach. The willingness of residents to pay for stadium construction is tempered by a concern about other pressing social needs in the Portland area and a reaction to the current tax climate.

JOURNAL OF URBAN AFFAIRS, Volume 29, Number 5, pages 455–479.


Post by Paul Le Comte


Filed under Architecture, Construction, Design, Economics, Geography, Stadiums, Town planning, Urban design

6 responses to “Academia’s 2cents worth

  1. Phil

    Wow, great sources of information. Very much appreciated. A lot of opinions coming from different directions. Quite thought provoking. I think that, had our current project been handled a little better (read “lot”) then the “feel good” effect might have been a lot stronger than it currently is. Hopefully the situation will improve over time.

    Tourism is an interesting avenue. I can see people visiting the city for other reasons, taking the opportunity to have a look at the stadium. Maybe. But I can’t see it as a drawcard on its own. People line up for tours through Anfield Stadium because it’s the home of Liverpool Football Club. I once stood in awe for 30 minutes in an overgrown paddock in the south of the Ukraine. For no other reason than it was the site of the Charge of the Light Brigade. I had travelled for nearly 2 days just to do that. We would probably need a more globally spiritual drawcard than the home of a team currently lying 12th in a local competition.

    Very good articles.

  2. Hi Phil

    I know what you mean re the tourism angle. It was a contentious issue last year. Like you I have been to some strange places just because of the power of the attraction – I walked around the outside of Battle in the UK just because of the history of the place. But more importantly, I would (although others wouldn’t) fit into the category of sports tourists.

    I swindled my way into Fenway Park on a dark rainy evening once. I couldn’t get tickets for the playoff game that was in town, so I watched it from the pub across the road (incredible 4-storey building, with the roof top bar having a view into the stadium). After the game and with Dutch courage on board, it wasn’t hard for an awestruck Kiwi boy to talk his way in for 2-3 quick picks. This luckily turned into a full 3/4hr self guided tour of Fenway Park, one of the US’ most revered ball parks.

    I even made sure I was flying out of La Guardia in New York so I could fly over Yankees Stadium. I’ve yet to make the pilgrimage to Wembley, but that’s only a matter of time.

    Who knows what sort of history and buzz the new stadium will bring, that’s something that only time will be able to reveal to us. But one thing’s for sure, the current Carisbrook isn’t on the international ‘must see’ sports stadium tours.

    Just as an aside, the stadium I most want to visit is Alfheim Stadion in Tromso, Norway. For no other reason that it was on day 14 of Michael Palin’s Pole to Pole TV show that he went to a game of football on the only ground in the Polar Circle, coincidentally the northernmost football ground in the world.

  3. Calvin Oaten

    I like it. As Paul says, there are a plethora of reasons why stadiums (or historic places of all ilk) may or may not grab the public’s affections. The FB stadium demonstrates one thing at least. We sure as hell ain’t re-invented the wheel.

  4. Weird – what was I saying about Fenway Park. This was in the Globe and Mail (Toronto) today.

    “If you can only make it to a handful of ballparks in your lifetime, Fenway Park in Boston should be on your list”.

    In a series called ‘Stealing Home, Life mirrors baseball: A trip to Major League Baseball’s 30 ballparks’, Navin Vaswani takes a trip to Boston’s Fenway Park.


  5. Phil

    Many people, myself included, visit tourist spots to be part of some kind of “interactive experience”. A “wow, this is the spot where…” experience. When you are there, you can imagine what it must have felt like. Be it associated with a particular event, activity or period architecture. I guess that NZ, due to its relatively short history, doesn’t have many places which are globally historically iconic. Apart from maybe the corner of the corridor in the Beehive where John Banks got roughed up, which I understand was included for a number of years on the guided tour of Parliament.

    Sports venues fall largely into that category. People visit the venues to try and capture a taste of the atmosphere associated with an event held there. The building itself is often secondary. We actually discussed this at home last night. I wouldn’t come to Dunedin to see the stadium, because it doesn’t yet ooze its own life as the homes of great football or baseballs teams do.

    I recall a work colleague telling me about a tour he went on a retirement trip to the Liverpool football club stadium. The highlight for him was walking up the players tunnel onto the pitch, tapping the swinging sign overhead with his hand for luck as he went. Because that’s what he had seen his idol players doing on tv for years. Sad, but true. It wasn’t about the building itself, but about what it signified to him.

    However, while I was here in Dunedin, I’d probably be curious to see what a football pitch looked like with a solid roof over it. Once I’d seen the pitch for 30 seconds and looked up at the roof, that would be it for me. And then I’d be off to the albatross colony. I’d skip the stadium if it meant that I could squeeze in a trip to the penguin habitat.

    Would having a world famous champion rugby team be a bit much to wish for?

    • Elizabeth

      If I was flying in for a visit, with a son or daughter at the University, I’d probably make time to view the campus and its heritage precinct before taking them heli-skiing. Might even attend their graduation and have photographs on the banks of Leith. Stadium, what stadium? (Actually, I’m really here scoping a few dairy farms and a place to build a processing plant, somewhere on a railhead.)

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