In today's highly fractured world, it's not often that lawmakers from the two parties agree on anything — which makes it all the more amazing that a Republican and a Democrat are working together to smack down the National Football League.
Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Oklahoma Sen. James Lankford (R-OK) have co-sponsored a bill that would strip any taxpayer funding for professional sports teams for building their massive arenas. The proposal, first put forward in June, is gaining steam on Capitol Hill after NFL players began kneeling during the national anthem to protest police brutality (or something).
“Professional sports teams generate billions of dollars in revenue,” Booker said in a June 13 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.”
Said Lankford: “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. Using billions of federal taxpayer dollars for the subsidization of private stadiums when we have real infrastructure needs in our country is not a good way to prioritize a limited amount of funds."
A spokesman from Lankford’s office told The Daily Caller on Sunday that "in the last four weeks interest in the bill has picked up since both members proposed it four months ago."
The two senators said that since 2000, 36 professional sports stadiums have been constructed or revamped under financing provided by federal tax-exempt municipal bonds, costing taxpayers over $3.2 billion. While sports team argue that stadium construction is for the good of the community, the senators say “there is no statistically significant positive correlation between sports facility construction and economic development."
The true cost is more like $7 billion, reported Watchdog.org. "Overall, taxpayers have spent nearly $3 billion on the 16 stadiums that will host NFL games during the season’s opening weekend. And over the past couple of decades, we’ve given NFL teams nearly $7 billion total in aid for their stadiums."
The New England Patriots built the impressive Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Mass., with $72 million in taxpayer cash. The Pittsburgh Steelers tapped taxpayers for $171.6 million, while the Indianapolis Colts grabbed $619 million in taxpayer subsidies.
"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 Caller reported.