Gameday homes: mapping emerging geographies of housing speculation and absentee ownership in the American South


Cities around the world are increasingly marked by the proliferation of speculative real estate developments that are owned, but rarely occupied, by the global elite. This paper examines the emergence of a particular form of speculative real estate development unique to smaller college towns across the American South, largely as a result of the regional prominence of American football: the gameday home. Just like luxury real estate in global cities, gameday homes are rarely inhabited by their owners and serve primarily as an investment vehicle, but also serve to reshape the character of urban space and put increased pressure on local housing markets. This paper represents the first known attempt at quantifying and analyzing the local geographies of gameday home investments, using a case study of Starkville, Mississippi. While estimates of gameday homes are inherently fuzzy, it is argued that gameday homes represent somewhere between 5% and 10% of the total housing units in the city. Ultimately, it is argued that even though such vacant investment properties do little to improve the lives of local residents, the tax revenue generated by such properties makes it unlikely that such forms of speculation will be regulated moving forward.

Cities 115: 1-11
Taylor Shelton
Assistant Professor of Geography