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Major League Winners

Using Sports and Cultural Centers as Tools for Economic Development

By Mark S. Rosentraub

CRC Press – 2009 – 304 pages

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    July 28th 2009


Major League Winners: Using Sports and Cultural Centers as Tools for Economic Development chronicles the challenges overcome by civic leaders who are using the development of sports and cultural venues to help create diversified, vibrant, and attractive economic bases within their communities. Drawing on his 30 years of involvement with such projects, Mark Rosentraub presents case studies that demonstrate the innovative private-public partnerships needed to create win-win scenarios. These include how:

  • Indianapolis and Cleveland now boast new images as well as new downtowns thanks to innovative sports and cultural venues
  • San Diego continues to revitalize itself through partnerships of shared risk and returns
  • L.A.’s resurgence makes the most of its location and its glitz
  • Columbus and Reading are proof that even midsized and smaller cities can leverage sports enthusiasm

A decade ago in Major League Losers: The Real Cost of Sports and Who’s Paying for It, Dr. Rosentraub educated us about the insidious nature of the great sports welfare machine. Now, he shows us that those lessons are well-learned. While no urban center will weather this current economic crisis unscathed, the areas that will suffer least and recover fastest are those that are attracting and retaining significant concentrations of diversely skilled human capital. Rather than just provide us with a brief escape from our problems, with the right leadership, sports and entertainment can create opportunities for our cities to reinvent and reinvigorate themselves.


… illustrates through telling stories and meticulous research, the power of sports venues to generate economic development.

— Janet Marie Smith, Senior Vice President, Boston Red Sox and former VP of Development, Baltimore Orioles / Camden Yards

… the prescription for how to change the skyline of America’s cities … a must read for civic leaders.

— Charles Isgar, Los Angeles Coliseum

… refreshing departure from the ritualized ideological debates over public funding for sports, culture, and downtown development.

— Dennis R. Judd, University of Illinois at Chicago

… discusses the power that sports and other large gathering places have in helping economic recovery and development. Using the successes of many sports teams in how they help their town blossom and succeed, Mark S. Rosentraub says that these benefits are not a one way street, and that both the sports franchise and the city that hosts them must work together, and how they can avoid the pitfalls and failures that he discussed in his previous book, Major League Losers. Written with much experience, Major League Winners will enlighten those to the strong power that private and public partnership can bring to all those involved.

James A. Cox, Editor-in-Chief, Wisconsin Bookwatch, February 2011




The Author

Urban Change, a Loss of Centrality, and New Destinies for Downtowns


Sports, Entertainment, and Culture for Image, Attracting Human Capital, and Economic Development

The Beginning of an End to the Need for Central Cities

Why Should Cities Care about Sports, Entertainment, and Culture?

Sports, Entertainment, and Culture: The Trinity for Redevelopment

Misplaced Revenues, Misplaced Values

Goal and Organization of This Book


Teams, Cities, Elites, and the Real Value of "Big-Ticket" Amenities

A General Framework for Investments in Big-Ticket Items

The Value and Appropriateness of Big-Ticket Items

Amenities, Human Capital, and Economic Development

Organic Urban Change versus Planned Redevelopment

Business Leaders and Urban Redevelopment

The Unbalanced Playing Field between Teams and Cities

Challenging the Leagues in Court, at the Statehouse, or in Congress

Revitalization and Development as an Alternative to Subsidies



Indianapolis as the Broker City

The Indianapolis Plan: Goals, Objectives, and History

Indianapolis, Sports, and Redevelopment: What Was Built, How Much Was Invested, and Whose Dollars Were Spent?

Has Indianapolis Been Changed by the Sports and Downtown Redevelopment Strategy

Challenges on the Horizon: Subsidies and Revenues

Indianapolis: The Broker City to Be a Major League Winner


Shared Risk, Shared Returns: San Diego’s Unique Partnership for a Ballpark, Convention Center Hotel, and a New Downtown Neighborhood


The Padres and the “Need” for a New Ballpark

Politics of San Diego’s Sports World

Task Force II and the Generation of Substantial Public Benefits

Public Benefits and the Stigma of Subsidies

Scorecard on the Ballpark District: What Was Built

The Scorecard: Taxes Generated

The Ballpark District: Development, Land Use, and the Best Use of Urban Land

The Ballpark District and San Diego: Mutual Risk in a New Model for Public/Private Partnerships


A White Elephant, an Arena, and Revitalization: Using Location and the Glitz of L.A. LIVE to Rebuild a Downtown Area


Thinking Outside the Box: Bringing the Lakers and Kings Downtown

Downtown Los Angeles: Liabilities and Assets

Sealing and Selling the Deal

Los Angeles’ Investment and Returns

Rebuilding Downtown Los Angeles: L.A. LIVE

Rebuilding Downtown: Other Iconic Projects



Columbus, Major League Sports, and a New Downtown Neighborhood: A Failed Initiative and a Privately Built Arena


Fighting for a Toe Hold in Professional Sports

A. The Arena District Plan

Columbus’ Arena District: An Early Assessment

Columbus’ Arena District: What Was Built



Can a City Win When Losing? Cleveland and the Building of Sports, Cultural, and Entertainment Facilities in the Midst of Population Declines and Job Losses


The Crisis of Confidence

Cleveland’s “Hail Mary” Pass: Downtown Revitalization as Symbols of Confidence

Results of Cleveland’s “Hail Mary” Pass

Extra Benefits from Building Amenities: Regional Cooperation

Amending Cleveland’s Major League Loser Status: New Leases

Business Leaders and Downtown and Community Development



Stagnation, Crime, and Population Change: Reading’s Volunteer Leadership Group and a Focus on Sports, Entertainment, the Arts, and Culture to Revitalize a Small City

Introduction: Economic Change in a Small City

Changes in a Small City: Economic and Racial Separation

Into the Breach: A Volunteer Leadership Group and Its Focus on Entertainment

Reimaging Reading: From the Outlet Capital to a Mid-Atlantic Arts Center

Reading’s Leadership Group and Community Development

Measures of Success



Sports, Culture, Entertainment and Revitalization: Turning Subsidies into Strategic Investments


Subsidies to Investments in the Aftermath of the Credit Crisis

Lessons Learned: Similarities within Differences

Lessons Learned: Advice for Other Cities Looking to Sports, Entertainment, and Cultural Amenities for Revitalization

Recommendation 9: Level the Negotiating Table





Author Bio

Mark S. Rosentraub is on the faculty at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, USA.

Name: Major League Winners: Using Sports and Cultural Centers as Tools for Economic Development (Hardback)CRC Press 
Description: By Mark S. Rosentraub. Major League Winners: Using Sports and Cultural Centers as Tools for Economic Development chronicles the challenges overcome by civic leaders who are using the development of sports and cultural venues to help create diversified, vibrant, and attractive...
Categories: Public Administration & Management, Development Policy