National Anthem Protests Put Pressure On Lawmakers To Defund Sports Arenas

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Kerry Picket Political Reporter
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Senators proposed a bill this summer to prevent federal taxpayer funding from going towards the construction of professional sports arenas, and after more players began supporting the protest of the national anthem before games, the legislation may begin to pick up steam.

A companion measure to the legislation was already proposed in the House back in March by Oklahoma Republican Rep. Steve Russell.

Last June, New Jersey Democratic Sen. Cory Booker and Republican Oklahoma Sen. James Lankford put forth a bill that would ban professional sports teams from using municipal bonds in relation to federal funding to build their sports arenas.

“Professional sports teams generate billions of dollars in revenue,” Booker 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.”

The Oklahoma Republican senator agreed, saying, “The federal government is responsible for a lot of important functions, but financing sports stadiums for multi-million – sometimes billion – dollar franchises is definitely not one of them.”

A spokesman from Lankford’s office told The Daily Caller Sunday that in the last four weeks interest in the bill has picked up since both members proposed it four months ago.

Should taxpayers have to pick up the tab for stadiums for wealthy professional athletes and team owners who thumb their noses when the national anthem is played in those very stadiums?

Players on the Baltimore Ravens and Jacksonville Jaguars, all who can potentially benefit from taxpayer dollars at the local, state and federal levels, followed the lead of former San Francisco 49er quarterback Colin Kaepernick Sunday. They kneeled during the national anthem at a game against each other in London. Other teams stayed in their locker rooms for the anthem.

The incident happened one day after President Donald Trump criticized professional football players who kneel during the anthem, which set off a war of words on Twitter between the president and professional sports figures.

Kaepernick claimed his protest of the national anthem last season stemmed from treatment of blacks by law enforcement, but by the end of the season Kaepernick’s demonstrations, joined at that point by other players, led the reason to the league’s TV ratings plunge, ESPN reported.

Not only have viewers bid farewell to the NFL but attendees at teams’ taxpayer-funded stadiums appear to be refusing to fill seats. Last Thursday, the San Francisco 49ers and the L.A. Rams played before a poorly attended crowd.

According to Booker and Lankford, for the past 17 years, 36 professional athletic stadiums have been built or renovated by federal tax-exempted municipal bonds. This cost taxpayers $3.2 billion dollars, the Brookings Institute reported last year.

Despite claims from local officials and team owners that the construction of these stadiums would create jobs and economic growth, research from the Journal of Economic Perspectives showed “there is no statistically significant positive correlation between sports facility construction and economic development,” specifically aimed at income growth or job creation.

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