- The White House now says NFL players shouldn’t kneel during the National Anthem since so much taxpayer money finances their stadiums
- The NFL uses ‘money from American taxpayers to build the very fields they play on,’ said President Trump’s press secretary
- Pronouncement comes on the same day league commissioner Roger Goodell announces that ‘we believe that everyone should stand’
- Tax-free bonds issued to finance stadiums have reaped nearly $4.7 billion since 2000, resulting in a loss of $1.1 billion in tax receipts
- Trump tweeted that teams should stop getting ‘massive’ tax breaks until all their players observe the Anthem properly
The White House opened up a new front in President Donald Trump’s war with the NFL on Tuesday, saying state and local tax subsidies that help finance stadiums should obligate teams to stand for the National Anthem before games.
Trump tweeted Tuesday morning that the government should ‘change [the] tax law’ because the league is ‘getting massive tax breaks while at the same time disrespecting our Anthem, Flag and Country.’
In 2015 the NFL gave up its tax-exempt status, which was awarded in 1942 on the basis that it was a trade association, but it does still benefit from states and municipalities that issue tax-free bonds to pay for stadium construction.
‘Billions of taxpayer dollars continue to subsidize the construction and renovation of professional sports stadiums,’ White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Tuesday.
‘If this industry is going to use money from American taxpayers to build the very fields they play on, is it really too much to ask that they show respect for the American flag at the beginning of the game?’
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said Tuesday that state and local tax subsidies that finance stadiums should obligate NFL teams to stand for the National Anthem
President Trump re-ignited his fight with the league Tuesday morning, suggesting governments should end ‘tax breaks’ for teams
Trump, pictured Tuesday furing an event with the NHL champion Pittsburgh Penguins, started the NFL row a few weeks ago during a speech in Alabama
‘The federal tax law doesn’t apply here,’ she clarified later. ‘But certainly we know that they receive tax subsidies on a variety of different levels.’
According to the Brookings Institution, 13 NFL stadiums received public financing between 2000 and 2016. On average, each team reaped $360.2 million in tax-exempt bond funding – resulting in a total of $1.12 billion in lost tax revenue.
League advocates often argue that stadiums bring economic benefits to communities where they’re built, including jobs and consumer capital.
But the Initiative on Global Markets polled economists last year, and found 83 per cent agreement that ‘[p]roviding state and local subsidies to build stadiums for professional sports teams is likely to cost the relevant taxpayers more than any local economic benefits that are generated.’
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell issued a memo to teams on Tuesday, appearing to side with Trump over players who use the Anthem as a platform for take-a-knee protests
‘Like many of our fans, we believe that everyone should stand for the National Anthem,’ Goodell wrote to team owners and CEOs
Earlier Tuesday afternoon, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell distributed a memorandum to team owners and chief executives, emphasizing that ‘[l]ike many of our fans, we believe that everyone should stand for the National Anthem.’
‘It is an important moment in our game. We want to honor our flag and our country, and our fans expect that of us,’ Goodell wrote.
He also urged teams to ‘move past’ the controversy that has pit the president and most Americans against players who protest racial injustices by kneeling during The Star-Spangled Banner.
The San Francisco 49ers pioneered the kneeling protests, which preceded a significant drop in NFL viewership on television
When Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia was built between 2001 and 2003, $214 million of the total $666 million cost came from public financing with tax-free bonds
Heinz Field, where the Pittsburgh Steelers play, cost $376 million to build back in 1999-2001, and tax-free bonds paid for $125 million of that sum
On Sunday, Vice President Mike Pence walked out of an Indianapolis Colts game after several members of the visiting San Francisco 49ers took a knee.
The move was criticized as a staged public-relations stunt, but Sanders said Tuesday that Pence had been invited long ago to ‘present an award.’
Trump confirmed on Twitter that he made the decision for Pence to leave before the kickoff.
‘I asked @VP Pence to leave stadium if any players kneeled, disrespecting our country,’ Trump tweeted Sunday.
On Monday, Hall of Fame former Chicago Bears coach Mike Ditka said during a Westwood One pregame radio show that player protests based on complaints about police brutality are without merit.
The NFL’s Field Operations Manual already includes a strict policy telling players what’s expected of them during the playing of The Star Spangled Banner
‘There has been no oppression in the last 100 years that I know of,’ Ditka said.
‘Now maybe I’m not watching it as carefully as other people. I think the opportunity is there for everybody – race, religion, creed, color, nationality. If you want to work, if you want to try, if you want to put effort in, you can accomplish anything.’
The NFL’s field operations manual already has a stated policy on the National Anthem, saying players ‘should stand at attention, face the flag, hold helmets in their hand, and refrain from talking’ while it’s played.