Huron, Ohio – Bowling Green State University Firelands Campus Associate Professor of Sociology Tim Jurkovac recently presented his paper Celebrating Nostalgia, Legalizing Extortion and Subsidizing Greed: The Hegemony of the Retro Ballpark at the 24th Annual Cooperstown Symposium on Baseball and American Culture in Cooperstown, NY.

A lifelong fan of baseball and Cleveland sports, Jurkovac has been able to incorporate his enthusiasm for America’s national pastime into his craft.  Through his popular BGSU Firelands Sociology of Sports course, he is able to present students with a different perspective of baseball.

“It is a timeless sport layered with nuance,” said Jurkovac.  “Baseball provides a sense of community and brings people together – it provides a sense of commonality.”

Jurkovac’s paper, however, sheds a revealing light onto the more sinister side of the new ballparks which have been constructed in such cities as Cleveland, Baltimore, and Denver.

Jurkovac contends that a community’s love of baseball has been exploited by the leagues monopolistic owners over the past twenty years when they threatened to move “their” team if the city or county didn’t build a new ballpark.

In his paper, Jurkovac argues that the promises of economic growth and community rebirth which are extolled by the proponents of building new retro ballparks have never been realized.  In fact, just the opposite has occurred.  In  Cleveland, lost revenues due to tax abatements for the stadium have cost the county $9.7 million and unemployment more than doubled from 1970 to the mid-1990s.

What followed was a dramatic rise in revenue for the owners and a massive amount of debt incurred by the public.  He argues that owners exhibit little in the way of being responsible members of a community.  The fact that such wealthy individuals are subsidized by communities that are often in fiscal crisis is for Jurkovac the epitome of a “reverse Robin Hood effect.”

The Annual Cooperstown Symposium, touted as the most prestigious conference on the subject matter, is host to academicians, journalists, lawyers, and historians and this year featured more than 50 presentations selected from academic papers which were submitted from across the country.

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