The punchline missing from last night’s great John Oliver segment on stadium scams

I don’t want to in any way criticize Last Week Tonight with John Oliver’s outstanding segment last night, which did a terrific job hitting all the highlights of the stadium subsidy game. But I did want to add a side note to one of Oliver’s examples:

Teams are shameless in manipulating cities’ fears. In 1997, the Minnesota Twins even ran an ad showing a player visiting a child in hospital with cancer, and the tagline: ‘If the Twins leave Minnesota, an 8-year-old in Wilmar undergoing chemotherapy will never get a visit from Marty Cordova. Which is less like the Make-A-Wish Foundation, and more like the Make-A-Threat Foundation.

All true! But it actually turned out to be even worse than that, as the Minneapolis City Pages reported at the time:

Then there was the TV ad aimed at prodding fans to rally the legislature, which depicted Twins outfielder Marty Cordova going to see a sick child at the Minneapolis Ronald McDonald House. “If the Twins leave Minnesota, an 8-year-old from Willmar undergoing chemotherapy will never get a visit from Marty Cordova,” the announcer intoned, as the screen faded to black. To make matters even more repulsive, it turned out that by the time the ad aired, the patient had died.

Also, nobody had bothered consulting Twins outfielder Cordova, whose charity had sponsored the hospital visits, and who objected vociferously to being used for owner Carl Pohlad’s stadium shakedown. The ad was quickly pulled, the Minnesota state legislature declined to fund a new Twins stadium, and the team moved to — er, that is, kept on plugging away at getting public stadium money out of Minnesota, until finally the legislature gave in. That’ll show those lousy dead-cancer-kid-mongers, right?


5 comments on “The punchline missing from last night’s great John Oliver segment on stadium scams

  1. I’m pretty sure mentioning that would had been a real downer. I don’t see using dead cancer kids working in a monologue.

  2. As I mentioned in a comment to the previous piece you put up on Oliver’s brilliant Stadium piece, the fact is, the vast majority of the populace are morons who fail to see the correlation between a Billionaire asking for a hand-out, and losing government services because their government chooses to capitulate to the Billionaire extortionist.
    I know I’m a cynic…I accept this…because seemingly 100% of the time, the Billionaire gets what he wants (always a “he”), while the taxpayers get hosed, and the politicians stand before the news cameras smiling and touting the “job creation” for construction jobs that last maybe a year, while the jobs within the stadium are service related and therefore low paying, while the Billionaire owner reaps all the benefits at tax payer costs for years, no, decades upon decades to come. I just don’t get it. I live in Chicago, and am a fan of the local sports team, but I would NEVER advocate throwing tax payer funding at Reinsdorf, Ricketts, Wirtz, et al. They are all billionaires and can and should buy what they need with their own damn money… if they don’t like it, sell the team, and buy into another investment.

  3. Well, most stadium deals never go to a public vote, and when they do, they frequently lose. I’d say there a minority of vocal opponents of stadium subsidies, another vocal minority of those who’ll support whatever the team owners want, and a large remainder who believe whatever they read in the paper or saw on TV ads most recently.

  4. Dan M on July 13, 2015 at 6:45 pm said:
    Hi Dan, I know you are frustrated as you ought to be but saying ‘the the vast majority of the populace are morons’ is a bit heavy-handed. The truth is many people are just busy trying to make ends meet and do not have the luxury to dissect issues.

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