High Stakes

Big Time Sports and Downtown Redevelopment

Timothy Jon Curry, Kent Schwirian, and Rachael A. Woldoff

“High Stakes is an excellent short guide to how all of the actors in the sport/redevelopment drama can potentially win. . . . [T]here’s never a bad time to think about these issues.” —The Other Paper

“This is a fascinating book on a hot topic and will be of interest not only to scholars of urban planning and development and the history of sports but also to the everyday sports fan curious about the relationship of municipal politics to big-time sports. Curry, Schwirian, and Woldoff deftly explain the success of the stadium development projects in Columbus while revealing the problems inherent in linking sports with urban revitalization.” —Mark LaGory, University of Alabama, Birmingham

Unlike so many other cities around the country, Columbus citizens gave a firm “no” to the proposal that public money be used to build an arena to attract an expansion professional hockey team and a soccer stadium to keep a professional franchise. Yet, both structures are now a permanent part of Columbus’s landscape. High Stakes is the inside story of how a coalition of the city’s movers and shakers successfully did an end-run around the electorate to build these sports complexes. As it turned out, everybody appears to have won: taxpayers were relieved of any funding obligation, the coalition got the new facilities, and the new arena jumpstarted downtown redevelopment. Now, the Columbus case is being touted as the model of how to use professional sports to improve a city’s downtown with minimal taxpayer expense.

Professional sports have become a primary tool for the downtown redevelopment of many large cities. High Stakes portrays in vivid detail the twists and turns as this unlikely group fought doggedly to make their dream—and Columbus’s prosperous future—a reality.

Timothy Jon Curry is associate professor of sociology at The Ohio State University. Kent Schwirian is professor emeritus of sociology at The Ohio State University. Rachael A. Woldoff is assistant professor of sociology and anthropology at West Virginia University.

Jun 2004
Columbus, Ohio, sports, urban studies, city planning, business, politics, economics
216 pp 6x9 12 illus.

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