Make. Them. Pay.

When HBO announced its own fake news show Last Week Tonight with John Oliver I felt great about Oliver, who did exemplary work at The Daily Show. I also felt rather hesitant at the show’s format: a 30-minute show on Sunday night featuring the previous week’s news. It didn’t take much time for Oliver to prove the format a winner. Instead of the rat-a-tat nature of TDS, The Colbert Report, and other late night shows, Oliver was given the freedom of devoting a lengthy segment every week to a single topic. Those segments, usually ending each episode, have providing cutting and often educational rants on a broad range of topics, from FIFA corruption to race relations to an interview with Edward Snowden. So it shouldn’t have surprised me that this week’s topic was near and dear to my heart: stadium development in America.


Oliver starts and ends the segment with references to soaring locker room speeches. I took the liberty of transcribing his own speech at the end. As you watch the end, read the speech.

For the rest of you I want you to look deep down inside your hearts. I want you dig in there and I want you to find something. And it’s gonna seem tiny but it’s the most powerful thing in the world. And it’s the word “No.” No.

So when a billionaire asks you to buy him a hologram machine that doesn’t exist yet, what are you gonna say?


That’s right! And when they ask you to build a stadium with public money without opening their books, what are you gonna say to them?


That’s right! And when they ask you if they can keep all the money for calling their arena “Smoothie King Center” what are you gonna say to them?!?!


FUCK NO that’s right ‘cause that’s a stupid name for anything, even a smoothie store!

‘Cause I want you all to get out there. And the next time a team comes around asking for a new stadium I want you to MAKE THEM PAY. What are you gonna do?!?!









crowd ends in a MAKE THEM PAY! MAKE THEM PAY! chant.

Already my week is made.

44 thoughts on “Make. Them. Pay.

  1. Dang! Why couldn’t this segment have come out before Sacramento approved the building of the downtown sports arena? *sigh!*

  2. I hope San Diego citizens are listening to Oliver because they’re trying to give the Chargers at least 400 million in public money to help build a stadium and thats a joke.

  3. My favorite thing on the twitterverse right now is this argument:
    NFL teams are more valuable and have better tv ratings, therefore the NFL is more valuable to said city, therefore, the city will get more tax revenue.
    That’s all you need to know as to hoe delusional the general public is.

  4. I’ll bet Lew wrote that segment for John Oliver.

  5. This also shows how bad the sports media is. All you hear right now in regards to the Raiders is what a bad deal the CC agreement is and how little the city is doing to help the Raiders. The Raiders are not a victim in this.

    The discussion should be about why Davis hasn’t proposed an option and why the city hasn’t opened up the ENA to involve direct proposals from both the Raiders and the A’s.

  6. That video AT SPES INFRACTA references on Twitter and Youtube you retweeted ML misses two key points about the Warriors that has always differentiated them from the A’s and particularly Raiders (and may be a big part of why they’ve never had an attendance problem)… they’re not an Oakland team. The Warriors may play in Oakland currently, but they’ve also called San Francisco home. And more importantly they represent the entire Bay Area, not just Oakland or the East Bay like their two neighbors across the plaza.

    That won’t change when they move to San Francisco. Even if the Warriors re-brand to “San Francisco Warriors” they’ll still rep the entire Bay Area, because as we’ve seen with the San Francisco Giants, and the San Francisco 49ers (of Santa Clara), teams with the SF moniker represent the entire Bay Area, and in both those cases even points beyond. The Warriors are and will remain the same. So they’re not being “disloyal” by moving to SF. They’re simply moving around their current market.

    Second issue, they’re probably the worst example of a team currently in the planning stages of a new venue that subsidy opponents could attack as they’re self funding rather than asking for a taxpayer handout.

    • @ Dan
      Neither the San Francisco Giants, nor the San Francisco 49ers represent the entire Bay Area, any more than the Oakland A’s, or Oakland Raiders. I agree with you on the moniker San Francisco, and the fact that the Warriors and the Sharks for that matter represent the entire Bay Area, but no team can represent the entire Bay Area when there are two of them in that particular sport…

      • Lakeshore, if you don’t think the Giants and Niners represent the east bay these days you haven’t been paying attention. There are more fans of both of those teams in the east bay than there are Raiders and A’s. They draw large chunks of their respective fan bases from the east bay (more than the A’s and Raiders do). They draw corporate support from the east bay. They represent the east bay, south bay, north bay, peninsula, and SF proper. A number of factors have led to this. One they have the name, as the whole Bay Area is the San Francisco Bay Area. And more specifically, the Niners do so due to a combo of on field success, new stadium and the Raiders LA years basically destroying that fan base. The Giants due so due to their pretty park, senior team status, and most importantly of late the 3 WS wins.

      • @ Dan
        I do pay attention that why I said:
        Neither the San Francisco Giants, nor the San Francisco 49ers represents the “entire” Bay Area.
        All four teams (Raiders, A’s, 49er, Giants), represent the “entire” Bay Area. As to why the 49ers and Giants dominate the Bay Area marketplace? most of those reasons (not all) of them are associated with the name San Francisco. I think your brake down of the situation was a somewhat simplistic, as there are so many other factors.

      • @Lakeshore You hit the nail on the head. The only teams that can be fairly said to “represent the entire Bay Area” are the Warriors and the Sharks. No other teams unite Bay Area fans the same way. Regardless of whether any of the local NFL or MLB teams happen to have more local fans at any given point in time, all four of them will always have significant numbers of local fans rooting against them.

    • @ Dan “…two key points about the Warriors that has always differentiated them from the A’s and particularly Raiders (and may be a big part of why they’ve never had an attendance problem)… they’re not an Oakland team.”

      They do play in Oakland. They don’t carry the Oakland name. But by far the biggest reason why they “represent the entire Bay Area” and have never had an attendance problem is that they are the sole NBA team in the area.

      The same is true for the Sharks. This, despite the fact they DO bear the San Jose name, and despite the fact they play in a far less popular sport than the Warriors.

      Bottom line: the Warriors and Sharks situations are not analogous to the local MLB and NFL teams.

      “The Warriors may play in Oakland currently, but they’ve also called San Francisco home.”

      I think the nine years they spent in San Francisco 43 years ago are pretty much 100% irrelevant to their popularity today. The overwhelming majority of their current fans have no personal memory of the Dubs in San Francisco.

      “And more importantly they represent the entire Bay Area, not just Oakland or the East Bay like their two neighbors across the plaza.

      As noted above, the Dubs “represent the entire Bay Area” because they are the only NBA team here. The statement that the A’s and Raiders just represent the East Bay is just silly. It may be true that the Niners and Giants currently have more fans throughout the Bay Area (maybe even the East Bay) than the A’s and Raiders, but this does not mean the A’s and Raiders do not represent the entire Bay Area. The A’s and Raiders have plenty of fans throughout the Bay Area, including San Francisco.

      Conversely, there are many fans throughout the Bay Area who do not support (and may in fact detest) the Giants and/or Niners. Given this fact, it’s hard to make the case these teams “represent the entire Bay Area” the same way the Warriors or Sharks do.

      “A number of factors have led to this. One they have the name, as the whole Bay Area is the San Francisco Bay Area.”

      Another factor I believe is wholly irrelevant. I’ve never heard anyone who lives here, ever, refer to this area in oral conversation as the “San Francisco Bay Area.” It’s always the “Bay Area,” full stop. Fans relate the team names with their respective cities. Some may gravitate toward the Giants or Niners because they like or identify with the City of San Francisco, but I don’t believe anyone ever said to themselves “I’m going to follow that team because they represent the San Francisco Bay Area and I live in the San Francisco Bay Area.”

      • Here’s the problem: Most bay area people identify themselves as being San Franciscans. Just go out of town and ask bay area people where they are from:

        People from Oakland may say they’re from Oakland, and people from San Jose may say they are from San Jose, but everyone else says they are from San Francisco.

  7. Nice that they got the Rams and Chargers in the motivational speech segment but apparently couldn’t drum up three Raider fans.

  8. It really bothers me when people say “make the billionaires pay.” They need to do some research. There are actually very few billionaire sports team owners. They definitely represent the minority of owners. And no, you can’t count the value of the team in their net-worth because that does not represent any liquid funds that they can invest in a venue. There are VERY FEW individuals in the entire world that have that kind of cash just laying around and most of it went into buying the team in the first place. The Rooney family is also like the Davis family… very cash-poor. They were faced with losing control of the team because one Rooney wanted to sell their portion of the team and the rest of the Roonys could not afford to buy that share out. And no, the NFL does not have enough money to build everyone a stadium either.

    I am not 100% anti government funding of stadiums and arenas. It depends on the situation… if a city or state can afford to help fund a venue without sacrificing essential services then that is up to the elected officials and maybe even a direct vote to decide. It’s none of anybody else’s business if they are not a direct constituent of those decision-makers.

    *rant on*
    I have no respect for this “mocking journalism” trend, if you can even call it journalism. They are _actors_ who will say anything to get a laugh and ratings.
    *rant off*

    • Just to clarify… the Rooney family controls the Pittsburgh Steelers… arguably the most successful sports franchises that has ever existed except maybe for the Yankees… and they are CASH POOR like the Davis family.

    • @DTP I’m with you. While I understand why people may be philosophically biased against subsidies for professional sports teams generally, all situations are different and thoughtful people will look at the specifics.

      Depending on just how much public money is spent and other particulars of the project (e.g. will this be a catalyst for other development in a particular area), spending public funds on sports can be a good investment or a bad investment for a community. For example, San Jose spent hundreds of millions of dollars of public money on projects that largely failed trying to revitalize its downtown . San Jose Arena was a fantastic value considering what was spent on it and what it did for downtown.

      It should also be pointed out that public money is invested on subsidies for all kinds of businesses, not just sports. Good investments? Bad investments? It depends on the details.

      Public money also gets spent on subsidies for arts and cultural institutions that are for-profit businesses. San Jose Improv and Camera 12, for example. Again, some may be philosophically opposed to these subsidies, but you rarely hear the vitriol you get when the subject of subsidizing professional sports teams comes up.

      Finally, our Federal, state and local governments spend plenty of money on programs that I do not support and that don’t benefit me personally. Whether your politics skew left or right, this is probably true of most people. For myself personally, I’d rather see my tax dollars going to support new sports venues than a lot of the things our state and local governments would be likely to spend money on otherwise. It’s not all police, fire and schools.

    • Wow, sounds like the Rooney’s have some shit to figure out… Not sure how that is any tax payers problem, but go ahead and feel sorry for them and send your ad hominem attack at John Oliver… because, you know, when you can’t attack the argument, go after the presenter.

  9. I am going to say this about John Oliver. He maybe an actor and a comedian, but i think that he had this segment right. What he said is true about not just Raiders, Rams, and Chargers, but for ALL OF SPORTS. The gravy train of corporate welfare for pro sports teams has to stop at some point.

    The City of Oakland is much more than the Raiders, A’s and Warriors. Even if all three teams leave by 2020, which they will in my believe, this city will survive. It survived the first time the Raiders left in 1982, and will continue to, When the Warriors leave Oakland, the city will survive. When the A’s finally get their stadium, whether its in San Jose or elsewhere, the city will survive.

    For 33 years, since May 7, 1982, the City of Oakland have never gotten over the Raiders leaving. For years, they courted Al Davis to bring the Raiders back, and when they did, it was the deal that was originally set in 1990. It was a bad deal.

    At the time in 1995, I thought it was a good deal. I think most Raiders fans felt the same way. It wasn’t until a man named Frank Risso, whom I think that was his name not really sure, stood up and said NO! He knew it was bad. He was one of the people who stood up and said no to the City of Oakland in 1990. Everyone in 1995 thought he was full of it, but he wasn’t. We should have known what we were getting into and just let the Raiders stay in L.A.

    Now, before everyone else gets upset about my writings, I think we need to set back and think what has been happening in the last 20 years. Since the Raiders return, they never got to be their “former” selves. I won’t go into heavy stats, but since Super Bowl XXXVII, they have lost more than they won. They went through i think 11 head coaches since 2003. Attendance at the Oakland Raider games, since 1995, has suffered. Even when they had the first few games in 1995 sold out, they struggled to get seats sold ever since.

    I think its time to just “let it go.”

    • The Raiders winning pct from 2003 to present is .298 , They’ve basically been a 4-12 team since Gruden/Bruce Allen left for greener pastures. There aren’t too many NFL fanbases that would sellout games on a regular basis with that performance.

  10. re: the NFL in LA excerpt re: October NFL meetings – St. Louis and San Diego have put together serious proposals — although the Rams and Chargers aren’t impressed. But Oakland is lagging in a big way, so much so that representatives from that city likely won’t even be invited to New York for the meetings.

    If the league does invite Oakland, it will be so that owners can see what little progress that city has made.

    • The NFL doesn’t want Oakland anymore. They’re undoing the mistake that Al Davis in 1995, bringing the Raiders back to Oakland. I think it’s obvious, captain.

      • Oakland can stay in the NFL if it ponies up $400 million or more for stadium construction. But we know the NFL isn’t going to get 400 cents out of Oakland. I still see the NFL doing its best to commandeer the Raiders, kicking and screaming, into the Cathedral of the San Francisco 49ers (Levi’s) before letting them go back to LA, though. The league could even pitch it as keeping the 49ers in the Bay Area, near their beloved East Bay fan base, until Oakland can get its act together on a new stadium (which won’t happen).

  11. Yikes. Keeping the RAIDERS near their beloved East Bay fan base.

  12. I know that this is not related, but I just saw a video of the old abandon Pontiac Silverdome in Pontiac, Michigan on U TUBE. People keep going inside the old abandon stadium left by the Detriot Lions in 2002.

    In 5 to 10 years, the Oakland Coliseum/Arena will look like the old Silverdome.

  13. If the Raiders have to share a stadium with another NFL team, the NFL would much rather have the Raiders share state-of-the-art Levi’s Stadium with the 49ers, and not have to abandon their current Bay Area fan base. It will be bad enough if either the Rams or Chargers do relocate to LA, and their current respective market fan bases therefore lose their respective teams. For this reason, in of itself, the Raiders will be the least likely to be approved to move to LA.

    • Again, I ask the question: Has anyone asked Jeb about this?

      Is the NFL going to “force” the 49ers to take on a tenant, even though most of their prior statements have indicated that they have neither the wish nor the need to do so?

      Some folks on this site think that the respective leagues will be able to “force” tenancy on clubs which have gone their own way on new facilities; however, with that self-fiancing comes a certain amount of autonomy.

      I fail to see a scenario where MLB forces the Giants to take the Athletics on as a tenant at the Phone Booth, unless SFG willingly does so; same with the NFL in Santa Clara, outside of massive rental payments which would make such a tenancy…well, untenable.

      Is there something I’m missing here?

      • Levi’s stadium was designed to accommodate two NFL teams, if need be. Most importantly, the York and Davis family are on very good terms with one another, unlike the near hostile relationship between the Giants and A’s. Lastly, sharing a stadium with two NFL teams is not a problem given that they play one game per week.

      • I agree that I don’t see this happening, but MLB could force this on the Giants because of the best interests of baseball clause that all owners have to follow. MLB could threaten the Giants that they’re either going to green light the A’s to SJ or the Giants have to take in the A’s.

        In terms of the 49ers, the NFL did “force” the 49ers to design the stadium to support two home teams. They likely did this via requirements to be eligible for the G4 funding.

        Also, from the 49ers perspective, because of the economic differences between MLB and the NFL the Raiders don’t pose the same threat to the 49ers that the A’s do to the Giants. While the 49ers are probably a bit more profitable without the Raiders, it may not out weigh the amount of money the 49ers could get from the Raiders in rent. Having the Raiders as a tenant at Levi’s isn’t necessarily a bad deal for the 49ers.

      • @sierraspartan In general I would agree that sports leagues do not have an inherent power to force tenancies on reluctant team-landlords. However, in the Niners case, Levi’s Stadium was specifically built to accommodate two teams and was dependent on NFL funding. Thus, it is quite possible that the governing financing agreements obligate the Niners to accept a second NFL team as a tenant.

        Beyond this, I believe Jeb has said publicly he is open to hosting a second NFL team. (I’m too lazy to look this up right now, however).

        Most importantly, it would be in the Niners’ economic interest to host a second NFL team. They may not “need” the money to service their debt, but this is irrelevant. Businesses exist to maximize profits and do not turn down windfall money.

        It’s the same reason the Giants, while bitterly opposed to letting the A’s build a stadium in their supposed territory 40 miles away, have said they would happily accept the A’s as a tenant at AT&T Park (at least on a temporary basis).

      • The more interesting question is if the A’s would be willing to go for a temporary move to AT&T Park. They have said zero comments about that idea – and have instead discussed building a temporary ballpark instead. If the Raiders do bolt for LA and the A’s build at the CC site. either playing at the Coliseum, or demolishing it and building a temporary ballpark – when the new A’s stadium is being constructed – are more likely scenerios than the A’s playing at the Phonebooth. The Raiders are much more likely moving to Levis temporary than the A’s would relocate to AT&T.

  14. “MLB could force this on the Giants because of the best interests of baseball clause that all owners have to follow”

    This would be a very thin reed for them to hang their hat on. If I were the Giants and MLB tried this, I would tell them to pound sound, see you in court. Injunctions of this nature are difficult to get in general; I think the chance MLB could get one based on a provision that is as vague and subjective as this are very low.

    “MLB could threaten the Giants that they’re either going to green light the A’s to SJ or the Giants have to take in the A’s.”

    They could potentially do this, though they’d still need 3/4 of the owners’ vote. But other than as a temporary emergency fix, why would they? Why would you force a team at the heart of another team’s territory rather than simply allow that team to move to the fringe of that supposed territory?

    Bottom line: Both the Niners and the Giants are likely to take a second team on as a tenant at least temporarily because it’s free money.

  15. “Most importantly, the York and Davis family are on very good terms with one another, unlike the near hostile relationship between the Giants and A’s.”

    My understanding is Giants and A’s ownership have a cordial relationship in spite of their differences. Regardless, business is business, this is not a terribly important factor. You can generally count on almost any business to act in its perceived economic best interest, regardless.

  16. John Shea ‏@JohnSheaHey

    Asked about Joe Lacob’s interest, Rob Manfred said he believes #athletics ownership in it for long haul.

  17. Sad part here is Wolff unlike 99% of owners in any sport does not want a handout from anyone.

    He is willing to build his own ballpark on his own dime. But he wants to do it on his terms. Not on Oakland’s or MLB’s or the Giants for that matter.

    Wolff is better than most owners, he feels if he is going to pay for it himself then it has to be something he has control over.

    This is where Pro-Oakland people get lost and bash on him unfairly.

    If Oakland/JPA want Wolff to build in Oakland then they need to get rid of Kephart and let Wolff control the Coliseum site and the development.

    Oakland is the greedy one here, they want a free ballpark. That is not how it works in MLB.

    Even San Francisco had to pay $80M for a muni line/infrastructure, give up the land for free and give a 10M tax abatement to the Giants…..MLB was still super pissed and Selig refused to give SF an All-Star game until 2007.

    What is Oakland offering? Not a damn penny. Why? cause they know Wolff is stuck and has no leverage. MLB by not letting SJ compete has hand cuffed Wolf.

    Chavez Ravine was built in the 1960s so it does not count. The other 28 stadiums including Tampa Bay and the current Coliseum were heavily publicly subsidized.

    Make them pay huh?

    Not the way it has worked, it has to be a public-private partnership. Where both sides make concessions.

    The Raiders are stuck, the NFL knows the LA Coli will only take in 1 team with the Rose Bowl out.

    Rams are the most logical, they are going to pay 100% for their stadium and the financing is lined up.

    The Chargers/Raiders do not have it lined up.

    • @ Sid
      Oakland is greedy? Love you man, but you lost me on that one. Especially when considering the fact that we don’t know (still), if Wolff would actually be willing to do that or if he is stalling Oakland out as long as he possibly can, in hope’s of getting San Jose.

      Or simply put I’m not convinced Wolff is willing to build at the current site. (Yet) He has made it painfully obvious that he would rather not, but I’m not sure if he is even willing to do so.

    • What would MLB do if San Jose had offered to pay for the ballpark? We’ll never know, but that is one thing that has kept San Jose out of the game. Why allow San Jose to compete for the A’s, sans the Supreme Court forcing it, as long as both Oakland and San Jose are offering the same bid for a ballpark: $0.00? No bidding war going on here.

      • Yeah, it’s interesting how MLB keeps the threat of San Jose over Oakland, without giving the A’s the right to move there.

      • San Jose has put in an offer of infrastructural work (Autumn Parkway) and the old RDA did use TIF funds to try to put together the parcel at Park and Autumn. Unfortunately, Moonbeam decided RDAs were Teh Suxxorz, and tossed all those plans into the woodchipper.

        The sum total of San Jose’s contribution to Cisco Field thus far is similar in scope to what SFG got for the Phone Booth. Unfortunately for San Jose, The Lodge prefers its cities with actual skin in the game, and the owners did not like how the Giants’ stadium got built – and they don’t want any troublemakers interrupting their steady stream of cash from the cities.

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