Sports

Louisiana State Rep. Targets New Orleans Saints After National Anthem Protest

A Louisiana state lawmaker suggested Monday to cut all taxpayer funding from the New Orleans Saints after ten players did not stand during the national anthem Sunday, The Advocate reported.

“This is a state-funded sporting event–or subsidized sporting event, not fully by the state, but it is, so we have all the right to defund that,” Republican state representative Kenny Havard stated.  “I totally agree with their right to protest and I think it just needs to be done somewhere else. They can do it in the streets, they can do it on Sunday mornings… They can do it wherever they want, but not during our national anthem. I think it’s disgraceful.”

According to a 2015 piece in Forbes, Saints owner Tom Benson could potentially make around $400 million via state taxpayer dollars through 2025.

State Republican Rep. Valarie Hodges, a member of the House Appropriations Committee, also asked for the Saints’ state benefits to be looked over by the Legislature’s Senate and House budget committees because of the players’ protest, The Times-Picayune reported.

Forbes notes, “the state will pay Benson at least $198 million in increased revenue from the Superdome, $142 million in rental payments on property Benson owns, $10 million in bonuses for bringing the Super Bowl to New Orleans and $2.6 million in tax breaks. Benson will get another $40 million from private rent payments to a tower he bought as part of the deal.”

At the federal level, lawmakers want to ban federal funding of taxpayer dollars that go towards professional sports stadiums. A bipartisan Senate bill sponsored by Oklahoma Sen. Jim Lankford and New Jersey Democratic Sen. Corey Booker aims to do just that. A similar companion measure in the House was put forth last March.

Booker told The Daily Caller Monday that he does not view the anthem protests and the federal taxpayer funding of stadiums in the same vein, though.

“It should not be put in the context of any kind of bill of punishment. It’s a bill of public policy. We should not be funding arenas on a federal level. There’s better investment of tax dollars for leverage economic growth,” Booker said.

Follow Kerry on Twitter