The Arizona Diamondbacks trailed the
New York Yankees 2-1 with one out in the bottom of the 9th inning of
the last game of the 2001 World Series. The Yankees--winners
of four of the last five World Championships-- were virtually
assured of another victory. Phoenix sportscasters gathered in
the Diamondback locker room to interview the losing team while the
New York media prepared to storm the field where the winning team
But the Diamondback's had two men on base when Yankee's ace
pitcher Mariano Rivera made an unthinkable throwing error which
allowed Tony Womack steal home. The game was tied at 2-2.
Luis Gonzalez who had been stuck out by Rivera in the previous
inning was at bat. This time Gonzalez hit a fly ball that made
it just far enough to allow Jay Bell to score, and the Diamondbacks
were the 2001 World Series Champions!
The New York Yankees have been a major league franchise longer
than Arizona has been a state.B1
The Diamondbacks played their first game on the night of March 31,
1998. How could a team so new achieve such remarkable success?
The curmudgeons among us would say it is no secret: massive
taxpayer funding and massive debt.
In 1989, Phoenix voters passed a referendum by a 2-1 majority
requiring public approval if the city was to build any sports
facility worth more than $3 million. In an end run around
voter sentiment, the Arizona legislature passed a bill transferring
authority for stadium development from the city to the county.
The B.O.B. was born in February, 1994 when the Maricopa Board of
Supervisors approved a quarter cent increase in the county sales tax
to raise $238 million for the ballpark. Two of the three
supervisors that voted for the tax did not survive re-election.
Mary Rose Wilcox, who cast the deciding vote, survived re-election
as well as the bullet of a tax protester which lodged in her
The taxpayer contribution did not come close to funding the
Diamondbacks. The team had to cover construction cost overruns
resulting in $127 million in debt. Major League Baseball required a
$130 million expansion in addition to forgoing $125 million in
national television revenues during the franchise's first five
The players did not come cheap. Diamondback payroll for the
2001 season totaled $81 million--the eighth highest among the 30
major league teams. Compared to the losing Yankees, this was a
bargain. Yankee payroll was number one, topping $109 million.
The Diamondback players even deferred $30 million of their pay.
|Diamondbacks' managing partner
Jerry Colangelo, and manager Bob Brenly lead the victory
parade with the World Series trophy. 11-01
|An estimated crowd of 300,000
celebrate the Diamondbacks' World Series championship on
Wednesday, November 7, 2001. 11-01
|A full house awaits the
Diamondbacks to present the World Series trophy. 11-01
|Mary Rose Wilcox, the only Board
of Supervisors member to be re-elected after voting for
taxpayer funding of B.O.B., is projected on the scoreboard's
big screen at the championship celebration. She also
survived an assassin's bullet for her stadium support.
Footnotes and Sources for Diamondback Fever at the
B1. The New York
Yankees started as the Baltimore Orioles in 1901. They became
the New York Highlanders in 1903, changing their name to the Yankees
when they moved from their park at one of the highest points in the
city in 1913. [__________, Yankee
History, Brad's Ultimate
New York Yankee Website, accessed 11-10-01.]
Arizona became a state on February 14, 1912. [Office
of the Governor, State of Arizona]
B2. The interest
of the assassin, Larry Naman, in protesting the tax is unclear.
As a homeless man, Naman would seem to have less interest than most
in protesting a sales tax increase. Mrs. Wilcox was not the
only one he wanted to shoot. He also named Jerry Colangelo,
Phoenix Suns players, and a radio talk show host that supported the
stadium among his other targets. He was convicted of attempted
first-degree murder. [Associated Press, "Phoenix man guilty of
attacking official: He cited county supervisor's support of tax to
build stadium as shooting motive.", The Dallas Morning News,
05-05-1998, pp 12B.] Naman was sentenced to 15 years in
prison. [Tim Molloy, Associated Press Writer, "Transient
receives 15 years for shooting county supervisor.", AP Online,
One Ballpark", Ballparks
by Munsey & Suppes, 2001.
One Ballpark," Baseball
Sport Betting, Accessed 11-11-01.
ESPN.com, Copyright �2001
Blackburn, Martin, "Baseball: PHOENIX FROM THE
FLAMES.", The Mirror, 11-06-2001, pp 54.
Cagan, Joanna and Neil Demause, "Field
of Schemes: How the Great Stadium Swindle Turns Public Money into
Private Profit", copyright 1998-2000.
Dougherty, John , "How
the diamondbacks used huge debts to level the playing field of pro
New Times Online, New
Times, November 1, 2001.
Dougherty, John, "All
in the Family--County supervisor and her brother-in-law both have an
interest in Bank One Ballpark," Phoenix
New Times Online, New
Times, December 28, 2000.
Stark, Jayson, "'It
must be true:' D-Backs are champs," ESPN.com, Monday,
November 5, 2001.