“Just Say no?” The Economic and Political Realities of a Small City's Investment in Minor League Baseball

Mark S. Rosentraub, David Swindell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


The magical aura which encases sports in our society continues to encourage cities to offer inducements to attract franchises. Now, even minor league franchises have become coveted assets by smaller cities seeking the same “glamour” that major league teams give larger cities. Smaller cities are seemingly mesmerized by the idea, “build it and they will come.” The “they” is the anticipated economic impact and benefits of the team. This article analyzed one city's decision by measuring the substitution effects and real growth impact of a team on the local economy. Given the tax structure in the community and the marginal impact of the team, the city and the private sector made the correct decision in not offering substantial inducements; net gains were too small for all concerned. The small impact also suggests no natural constituency existed to support the needed investments. Finally, some have argued economic analyses are not the most important element in considering whether or not to invest in sports since baseball is a form of escapism and publicity. If these are valued ideas it remains for city councils and voters to decide if the “Boys of Summer” really define a community's image, culture, placement in the fabric of American society, and the quality of life. Or, is a minor league baseball team simply an example of “big boys wanting big toys” at someone else's expense.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)152-167
Number of pages16
JournalEconomic Development Quarterly
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 1991
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Development
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Urban Studies


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