(National Sentinel) Pay to Play: As more and more NFL players protest the National Anthem and the American flag, they do so in many stadiums that were financed in the billions of dollars by taxpayers who are offended by the disrespect.
As reported by the Washington Times, taxpayers in various NFL cities around the country have underwritten some $13 billion in bonds to build or renovate stadiums — spanning all sports — since 2000, according to a Brookings Institution study.
American taxpayers shelled out billions of dollars to build the stadiums that National Football League players are now using to stage their kneel-down protests of the national anthem.
The players say they have a right to express their displeasure with racism in the U.S. with their protests, but lawmakers say the NFL could be risking its access to the public trough if the team owners don’t get a grip on the situation.
“These protests are spitting in the face of the people who paid for that stadium,” said state Rep. Steve Drazkowski, a Republican in Minnesota, where the NFL’s Vikings team just opened a stadium built with more than $500 million in local and state financial assistance. “It will create buyer’s remorse among the taxpayers.”
In all, Vikings fans will shell out more than $1.3 billion over the next 30 years.
It’s one aspect of the more than $6.7 billion in public funds taxpayers have contributed to build 19 NFL stadiums and renovate three others since 1997.
Further, the Brookings study estimated that the federal government has lost as much as $3.7 billion in tax revenue on the bonds, exceeding the $3.2 billion in savings they created for stadium owners.
As we reported earlier this week, the protests have renewed interest in Congress in federal legislation that would end all federal funding of sports stadiums:
As protests against the National Anthem by millionaire NFL players rose dramatically this weekend amid criticism from President Donald J. Trump, there is a resultant rise in legislative efforts to end federal subsidies for new sports stadiums.
Legislation was introduced over the summer to prevent federal taxpayer funding from going towards the construction of professional sports arenas.
Now that protests are ramping up and the game has become politicized, it’s likely the legislative effort may gather steam. There’s little doubt that Trump would sign it.
“Professional sports teams generate billions of dollars in revenue,” Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., said in a statement. “There’s no reason why we should give these multimillion-dollar businesses a federal tax break to build new stadiums. It’s not fair to finance these expensive projects on the backs of taxpayers, especially when wealthy teams end up reaping most of the benefits.”
Booker has co-sponsored a bill with Sen. Jim Lankford, R-Okla., that would ban professional sports teams from using municipal bonds in relation to federal funding to build their sports arenas.
There is also rising interest on the local level to end taxpayer underwriting of stadiums, the Times noted:
Republican state-level politicians responded by calling for an end to taxpayer-subsidized arenas. Kenneth Havard, a Republican legislator in Louisiana, proposed cutting tax breaks for his local team, the New Orleans Saints. Mr. Havard said Louisiana spent $85 million to repair the Superdome after Hurricane Katrina amid threats that the team would relocate to San Antonio.
“Most Louisiana residents can’t afford to even walk in the Superdome, and these players are protesting a system that is giving them the opportunity to make millions of dollars playing football,” Mr. Havard said.
NFL players earn an average of $1.9 million per year, according to league data. The median salary in the United States is about $44,000, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported.
“These players are earning millions, and the average soldier who is keeping the Superdome from being blown up is only earning about $40,000,” Mr. Havard said. “That is a huge slap in the face to them.”
Team owners and coaches had better get a handle on these protests and soon, or the league’s brand will be irreparably harmed. NFL favorability fell 50 percent in one week after more than 200 players “protested” during Week 3’s games, including at a game in London, where players knelt during the U.S. National Anthem but had the ‘courage’ to stand for “God Save The Queen.”
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