If you are a sports fan of any type, and in particular if you are a sports fan in a city that is currently under any sort of shakedown threat from a local franchise regarding their stadium accommodations, do yourself and your community a favor by watching last night’s episode of John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight on HBO, and spreading the word around to all your town’s officials and taxpayers.
Oliver mercilessly exposed the swindles and extortion that go with every instance of stadium demands by pro sports franchises. Particularly amazing were the huevos shown by Milwaukee city officials, along with Bucks team officials, in their demands for a new arena in that city. For the Bucks, for Christ’s sake! Plus some sort of special award has to go to the mentally ill woman who harangued a Glendale city council meeting in favor of a new arena for a Coyotes team that nobody besides her actually wants to see playing in Arizona.
But that’s just the flamboyant stuff. The real meat of the matter lies in the studies and on the ground reporting Oliver cited, all showing that governments that give in to these demands inevitably get stuck with bad deals that keep doing financial damage to the community at large for years to come, and bring little to no economic benefit to those same communities. Little of it was news to me–I’ve seen and heard all these arguments from a long time before now–but Oliver did everyone a service by packaging it all up into a tight, easily understandable presentation that makes it clear how any city, county, or state should react the next time a private, billionaire-owned, highly profitable enterprise comes begging for taxpayer money so that they can have new digs in which to count their billions.
And, if you watched the show and still have any confusion about what your community should say if your local sports cash machine asks you to pony up for another new athletic palace, let me give you a hint: it starts with an “F,” and ends with an “uck off!”