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.
Ten 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.
# 2 on Edmonton Non-Fiction Bestsellers list, November 03, 2019
# 5 on Edmonton's Bestselling Books list; Non-fiction, March 08, 2020
# 10 on Edmonton's Bestselling Books list; Non-fiction, February 09, 2020
# 7 on Edmonton's Bestselling Books list; Non-fiction, December 01, 2019
"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 https://www.sihrhockey.org/__a/public/column.cfm?cid=4]
"Power Play: Professional Hockey and the Politics of Urban Development is an absolute masterpiece of civic journalism."
# 8 on Edmonton's Bestselling Books list; Non-fiction, January 5, 2020
# 8 on Edmonton's Bestselling Books list; Non-fiction, December 08, 2019
# 3 on Edmonton Non-Fiction Bestsellers list, November 10, 2019
# 2 on Edmonton's Bestselling Books list; Non-fiction, February 02, 2020
# 7 on Edmonton Non-Fiction Bestsellers list, November 24, 2019
# 8 on Glass Bookshop's Top 10 list, November 11, 2019
"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."
"...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."
# 8 on Glass Bookshop's Top 10 list, November 18, 2019
# 1 on Edmonton Non-Fiction Bestsellers list, October 27, 2019
"[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."
"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".
"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..."
"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."
"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 https://albertaviews.ca/power-play-professional-hockey-politics-urban-development/]
# 9 on Edmonton's Bestselling Books list; Non-fiction, December 15, 2019