HBO’s John Oliver rails against the boondoggle of taxpayer-financed stadiums
The use of taxpayer funds for the construction of lavish, privately owned sports stadiums has been subjected to increased scrutiny in recent years as city and county governments take a critical look at the pros and cons associated with handing over millions to billionaire team owners.
For many cities, spending taxpayer money to build new stadiums no longer — if ever — makes sense. The issue has received plenty of attention in recent months with the St. Louis Rams, Oakland Raiders and San Diego Chargers all threatening to move to Los Angeles if they don’t secure deals for new publicly financed stadiums in their respective cities.
HBO’s John Oliver — still savoring his spot-on FIFA diatribe — became the latest pundit to rail against the boondoggled reasoning behind the public financing of stadiums.
“The vast majority of stadiums are made using public money,” Oliver said. He went on to cite a statistic from the 2012 book “Public-Private Partnerships for Major League Sports Facilities,” saying $12 billion in taxpayer funds had been paid to finance 51 new sports facilities between 2000 and 2010.
“Which begs the question: Why?” Oliver asked. “Sports teams are wealthy businesses with wealthy owners, and they still get our help.”
Oliver also attacked the idea many team owners repeat to legitimize the use of public money: that new stadiums are economic-development hubs capable of generating jobs and nearby business revenue.
“A major review of almost 20 years of studies shows economists could find no substantial evidence that stadiums had increased jobs, incomes or tax revenues,” he said.
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