Cities fund stadiums so regularly that we've grown accustomed to thinking of them as public facilities like roads or schools. But during Sunday's episode of Last Week Tonight, John Oliver pointed out that they're actually very different. Stadiums are usually built to serve private sports teams that are generally highly profitable and have billionaire owners who could easily afford to build their own facilities. Yet in recent years, taxpayers have lavished billions of dollars of subsidies on them.
Teams get away with this by pitting one city against another. Teams are constantly threatening to move to another city — often Los Angeles — if they don't get a new, taxpayer-funded stadium. And because fans love their home teams, they lobby their elected officials to give the teams what they want.
John Oliver highlights some of the absurdly lavish features in some recent stadiums, including "party cabanas" and swimming pools inside the stadium of the Dallas Cowboys and an aquarium behind home plate in the Miami Marlins stadium.
And he closes with an inspirational song to help voters say no the next time a billionaire in their town starts threatening to move if he doesn't get more taxpayer handouts.