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Of Devils and Details: Bargaining for Successful Public/Private Partnerships between Cities and Sports Teams

PAQ, Vol. 33 No. 1, (2009)

Public interest in attracting and retaining professional sports teams remains vibrant. But the process to accomplish this is problematic due to the unique characteristics of new facilities and the peculiarities associated with negotiating the use of such facilities with team owners. Success in this endeavor requires community leaders to negotiate in an environment fraught with challenges quite different from those associated with other public services. Although such sport-related negotiations are relatively rare, there are lessons to help guide public officials in these efforts. This paper utilizes a model of the negotiating process that explicitly recognizes the social significance of sports, the economic factors confronting the different leagues, and the range of benefits that could be part of a community’s agreement for participating in a partnership to secure a team’s location. The model then illustrates how the economic development, tax revenue, and image goals of the public sector can be achieved.

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