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.
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.