Paperback / softback
October 10, 2019
9.00 Inches (US)
6.00 Inches (US)
0.80 Inches (US)
1.32 Pounds (US)
$36.99 USD, £25.99 GBP
v2.1 Reference

Power Play

Professional Hockey and the Politics of Urban Development

When the Rogers Place arena opened in downtown Edmonton in September 2016, no amount of buzz could drown out the rumours of manipulation, secret deals, and corporate greed undergirding the project. Working with documentary evidence and original interviews, the authors present an absorbing account of the machinations that got the arena and the adjacent Ice District built, with a price tag of more than $600 million. The arena deal, they argue, established a costly public financing precedent that people across North America should watch closely, as many cities consider building sports facilities for professional teams or international competitions. Their analysis brings clarity and nuance to a case shrouded in secrecy and understood by few besides political and business insiders. Power Play tells a dramatic story about clashing priorities where sports, money, and municipal power meet. Foreword by Richard Gruneau.

About the Authors

Jay Scherer is Professor of Kinesiology, Sport, and Recreation at the University of Alberta. David Mills is a retired Professor of Canadian history from the University of Alberta. Linda Sloan McCulloch was elected and served on Edmonton City Council from 2004 to 2013.


"Power Play is easy to understand, with a clear message: cities set to negotiate with professional sports teams must be aware there is a carefully-crafted playbook designed to attract maximum public dollars for sports facilities..."—Liane Faulder# 1 on Edmonton Non-Fiction Bestsellers list, October 27, 2019—Edmonton Non-Fiction Bestsellers# 2 on Edmonton Non-Fiction Bestsellers list, November 03, 2019—Edmonton Non-Fiction Bestsellers# 3 on Edmonton Non-Fiction Bestsellers list, November 10, 2019—Edmonton Non-Fiction Bestsellers"In Power Play, Jay Scherer, David Mills and Linda Sloan McCulloch not only clear the fog, they situate the whole ordeal as only the latest example of a long pattern of North American pro sports teams coercing public subsidies for new facilities.... No amount of massaging the messaging or shiny renderings will cover up the most fundamental divide in these debates: whether scarce public resources should be spent building something that will generate private profit, and which many citizens cannot reap the benefits of."—Taylor Lambert, The Sprawl"Power Play delves into the dark world of billionaire club owners, weak mayors and unconscionable subsidies that litter the world of professional sports. The names and dollar values change, but these grinding sagas are all the same: One false move and the dummy gets it. Pay up or you lose the team. So, taxpayers pay and pay".—Holly Doan, Blacklock's Reporter# 7 on Edmonton Non-Fiction Bestsellers list, November 24, 2019—Edmonton Non-Fiction Bestsellers"Ultimately, Power Play asserts that the city was the biggest loser when it came to building the arena. The city financed a majority of the new arena at an enormous cost.... While it agrees the arena has made positive contributions to Edmonton, it cautions future cities and arena developments to think critically about spending public dollars on private ventures."—Adam Lachacz"[The arena deal] was viewed by some as a catalyst for invigorating Edmonton's downtown core and a way to lock in the city's storied Oilers franchise. Others argued it was a gift to a billionaire businessman and the presumed result of backroom deals and public threats to move the team. Now, a new book sheds light on how Edmonton City Council reached the arena deal."—Jennifer Crosby# 8 on Glass Bookshop's Top 10 list, November 11, 2019# 8 on Glass Bookshop's Top 10 list, November 18, 2019# 7 on Edmonton's Bestselling Books list; Non-fiction, December 01, 2019# 8 on Edmonton's Bestselling Books list; Non-fiction, December 08, 2019# 9 on Edmonton's Bestselling Books list; Non-fiction, December 15, 2019"...a lot of things that a lot of political parties and governments do should be examined carefully. One informative way to look at them is to read the newly published Power Play. The book examines events leading to the City of Edmonton's decision to provide most of the funding for the Edmonton Oilers' new arena.... The book's real value lies in detailed recounting of how a big political battle was fought. Proponents of the arena deal were operating on articles of faith.... The book outlines constant appeals to conventional wisdom. It implicitly raises the question of whether politicians act on a strong information base in such cases, or whether they make decisions on gut instinct and a strong pull toward going along with a crowd."—Mark Lisac"Power Play: Professional Hockey and the Politics of Urban Development is an absolute masterpiece of civic journalism."—Fish Griwkowsky# 8 on Edmonton's Bestselling Books list; Non-fiction, January 5, 2020Ten of the year's best books by local authors to look out for. Many sports fans may not be aware of the true costs behind one of Canada's most beloved sports. Diving into the politics behind the Rogers Place deal, this book illuminates the facts previously shrouded in secrecy around the manipulation and machination that got the $600-million arena built.—Fish Griwkowsky, Edmonton Journal"Power Play is a book that needs to be out there, for the politicians, the protesters, the civic activists, the journalists, even the fans to read before the next power play by some rich owner, like, say Calgary or Ottawa.... As a reader, there's plenty to take away from Power Play, from the deep respect of all the research for the book to befuddlement at how public funds continue to fund rich people's toys." [Full review at]—Greg Oliver, Society for International Hockey Research# 2 on Edmonton's Bestselling Books list; Non-fiction, February 02, 2020—Edmonton's Bestselling Books# 10 on Edmonton's Bestselling Books list; Non-fiction, February 09, 2020—Edmonton's Bestselling Books# 5 on Edmonton's Bestselling Books list; Non-fiction, March 08, 2020—Edmonton's Bestselling Books"Readers interested in the business of sport will enjoy Power Play. But this book is really about how municipal politics can be hijacked. Themes of democracy, transparency and public participation in municipal politics run throughout the book.... Power Play shows what can happen when local politics becomes enmeshed with local and international business interests." [Full review at]—Ryan Gauthier"University of Alberta kinesiology professor Jay Scherer is one of the authors of the upcoming book Power Play: Professional Hockey and the Politics of Urban Development — a deep dive into Edmonton's arena deal... 'Any time a city does a new deal, it does set a very powerful precedent that the city with the next-oldest arena is invited to meet, if not exceed, in terms of subsidy,' Scherer said."—Madeline Smith, Toronto Star, 07/31/2019"The book adds significantly to literatures on the economics of sport, municipal government, and urban development by providing a detailed case study of the process and politics of sports facility construction, grounded in the distinct history and sporting experiences of a particular North American city. Power Play provides a template for investigating and analyzing the political and economic issues that will be faced in the next decade or two by every North American city with a major professional sports franchise seeking public subsidies. Power Play should go straight to the top of the reading list of anyone interested in the range of important issues illuminated by this carefully assembled and thought-provoking case study." Stacy L. Lorenz, American Review of Canadian Studies, 51:4 [Full review at]"Part scholarly history, part muckraking exposé, part caution tale, the book tells the story of how the team's owner, Darryl Katz, a millionaire drugstore chain magnate, enticed the City of Edmonton, its mayor and councillors, to rezone lands, relocate residents, and build the new facility so that the Oilers could leave their 'obsolete' digs in the Rexall Centre (once and now again the Northlands Coliseum) and inhabit a state-of-the-art, 'world-class' entertainment stage on par with those occupied by the NHL's best-earning teams. Power Play explains an intricate deal in remarkably plain terms..." Andrew Holman, University of Toronto Quarterly, Summer 2021


"Residents of every city faced with a sports subsidy demand—which is just about every city—can learn from this cautionary tale of how one Canadian city was suckered into handing over taxpayer dollars to make an already-rich hockey team owner even richer."—Neil deMause, co-author of Field of Schemes: How the Great Stadium Swindle Turns Public Money Into Private Profit"A sobering tale, set out with clarity and detailed documentation. The authors show that cities not only face the unequal economic power of deep-pocketed corporations, but the 'take it or leave it' power of a North American-wide cartel, also known as the NHL."—Bruce Kidd, author of The Struggle for Canadian Sport"The authors of Power Play illustrate how arena development has been driven by a growth coalition of prominent business leaders, land developers, and wealthy sports team owners."—John Hannigan, Professor, University of Toronto

9781772124934 : power-play-scherer-mills-sloan-mcculloch
Paperback / softback
464 Pages
$36.99 USD

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