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Bulls Markets

Chicago’s Basketball Business and the New Inequality

Sean Dinces

Bulls Markets

Sean Dinces

336 pages | 46 halftones, 25 tables | 6 x 9 | © 2018
Cloth $45.00 ISBN: 9780226583211 Published November 2018
E-book $10.00 to $45.00 About E-books ISBN: 9780226583358 Published November 2018
The 1990s were a glorious time for the Chicago Bulls, an age of historic championships and all-time basketball greats like Scottie Pippen and Michael Jordan. It seemed only fitting that city, county, and state officials would assist the team owners in constructing a sparkling new venue to house this incredible team that was identified worldwide with Chicago. That arena, the United Center, is the focus of Bulls Markets, an unvarnished look at the economic and political choices that forever reshaped one of America’s largest cities—arguably for the worse.

Sean Dinces shows how the construction of the United Center reveals the fundamental problems with neoliberal urban development. The pitch for building the arena was fueled by promises of private funding and equitable revitalization in a long blighted neighborhood. However, the effort was funded in large part by municipal tax breaks that few ordinary Chicagoans knew about, and that wound up exacerbating the rising problems of gentrification and wealth stratification. In this portrait of the construction of the United Center and the urban life that developed around it, Dinces starkly depicts a pattern of inequity that has become emblematic of contemporary American cities: governments and sports franchises collude to provide amenities for the wealthy at the expense of poorer citizens, diminishing their experiences as fan and—far worse—creating an urban environment that is regulated and surveilled for the comfort and protection of that same moneyed elite.
Contents
Introduction
1 Bullish on Image: Basketball and the Promotion of Postindustrial Chicago
2 “Normally, Heroes Cost You Money”: Bulls Fans in the New Gilded Age
3 The Bulls as “Good Business”: The United Center and Redeveloping Chicago’s Near West Side
4 Anchor or Shipwreck? The United Center and Economic Development in West Haven
5 “Peanut Envy”: The United Center’s War against Sidewalk Vendors
6 “Nothing but Net Profits”: Public Dollars and Tax Policy at the United Center
Conclusion

Appendix A: Logistic Regression Analysis of 1993 General Social Survey Data
Appendix B: City of Chicago, Cook County, and Illinois State Campaign Contributions by United Center Ownership and Executives, 1980–2016
Appendix C: United Center Property-Tax Savings
Appendix D: United Center Amusement-Tax Savings
Notes
Index
Review Quotes
Neil deMause, author of Field of Schemes
“The role of sports teams in revitalizing cities is too often taken for granted by sportswriters and urban commentators alike. In Bulls Markets, Dinces does the invaluable work of taking a no-holds-barred look at what the Michael Jordan Bulls meant to Chicago—both economically and emotionally—to determine once and for all what the city gained from a championship team, and which segment of a changing city reaped these spoils.”
Andrew Zimbalist, author of Circus Maximus
Bulls Markets is a penetrating and provocative account of the role of Michael Jordan and the championship Bulls in Chicago’s cultural and economic development. Dinces brings together a wealth of interesting research that asks important questions about the role of sports in urban growth, spatial evolution, and social inequality. Dinces’s analysis will have resonance for the citizens and politicians in many cities and should be required reading for public servants contemplating investment in sports infrastructure.”
Elliott Gorn, Loyola University Chicago
Bulls Markets is a terrific book: fine sports history, of course, and excellent urban history. Dinces reveals how wealthy owners hijack our beloved teams, and how politicians and league cartels do the bidding of the rich. Drilling deep into the story of the Bulls and Chicago, Dinces shows us that sports are part of the larger transformation of contemporary cities. Meticulously researched and beautifully written, this is an important book for anyone interested in urban history, politics, and economics.”
For more information, or to order this book, please visit https://www.press.uchicago.edu
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