Clem's Baseball home

Baseball stadiums built
"On Speculation"

Major League Baseball is both a legitimate commercial enterprise aimed at maximizing profits and the common cultural heritage of our nation. This ambiguous status makes it a perfect target for unscrupulous investors as well as sleazy government officials. Ever since franchise owners learned how to milk city and state governments for stadium subsidies, making their enterprises a virtual can't-lose proposition, there has been no effective limit to the continued escalation of players' salaries and ticket prices. This public policy "sin" got started in the late 1920s, when the Cleveland City Council was persuaded to spend $3 million of public money in hopes of attracting the 1932 Olympic Games to Cleveland. Los Angeles prevailed in that competition, leaving Cleveland taxpayers stuck with an enormous white elephant that was hardly ever filled to capacity.

thumbnail image Note that in every one of the stadiums listed below, there was a waiting period of one to eight years between the completion of construction and the first major league game. During those years, these stadiums were not yielding any return on investment, meaning that interest costs on the debt service were building up. (To be fair, it should be noted that Metropolitan Stadium and Arlington Stadium were not expanded to their ultimate full capacity until major-league teams moved in.) These are all clear-cut cases of the kind of rip-offs exposed by Joanna Cagan and Neil Demause, authors of the book Field of Schemes, which has an associated Web site with updated information: Field of Schemes. I may add more stadiums and/or more data to this page, pending further research. An excellent source of information on the tawdry financial aspects of our National Pastime is Andrew Zimbalist's book Baseball and Billions.

Stadium name Home team(s) Years waiting
for MLB
Other professional sports use Notes
Cleveland StadiumCleveland Indians1931 *NFL Browns (1946-1995)Alleged attempt to attract 1932 Olympic Games probably a myth.
Memorial StadiumBaltimore Orioles1950-1953NFL Colts (1953-1983),
NFL Ravens (1995-1996)
Former Venable Stadium (football) rebuilt for dual use in 1950, second deck added in 1954.
Milwaukee County StadiumMilwaukee Braves and Brewers--NFL Green Bay Packers
(part-time, 1953-1994)
"Quickie" deal with Boston Braves.
Metropolitan StadiumMinnesota Twins1956-1960NFL Vikings (1961-1981)Was offered to New York Giants.
Arlington StadiumTexas Rangers1965-1971--Low-rent deal with Senators owner Bob Short.
Oakland ColiseumOakland Athletics1966-1967NFL Raiders (1966-1981, 1995- )First used for Oakland Raiders football.
Atlanta-Fulton County StadiumAtlanta Braves1965NFL Falcons (1966-1991)"Gentlemen's agreement" with the Braves, forced to stay in Milwaukee one more year.
Tropicana FieldTampa Bay Devil Rays1990-1997NHL Lightning (1993-1996)Intended to lure Chicago White Sox.

* Special circumstance; see that page for details.

SOURCES: Lowry (1992); Andrew Zimbalist, Baseball and Billions: A probing look inside the big business of our national pastime (New York: Basic Books, 1992); Joanna Cagan and Neil Demause, Field of Schemes

* First posted: May, 2003

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