On last night’s Last Week Tonight, John Oliver took a deep dive into the outlandish scenario that sees taxpayers’ money being used to buy billion-dollar sports stadiums, while the cities where the stadiums are situated could spend the money on something more deserving, like… a hospital, perhaps.”Most new stadiums look like they were designed by a coked-up Willy Wonka,” said Oliver, following a clip which showed various new stadiums that have swimming pools, aquariums and other extravagant features. He pointed to the case of Detroit, which got approval for $283 million of taxpayers’ money for a new Red Wings stadium, just six days after the city filed for bankruptcy. “Even though the Red Wings’ owner is Micke Ilitch,” said Oliver, “who is worth an estimated $5.1 billion.”
Despite sports fans’ (and that includes myself) general willingness to hand over our money to the indifferent owners of “our” teams, the gross use of public money is surely a leg-pull too far, obtained as it is in many cases by owners threatening their city with relocation if they don’t get the new stadium. Oliver excellently points out the case of Hamilton County, Ohio, which had to sell a public hospital to service the debt incurred by the new Bengals’ stadium.
Watch the segment: