A Missouri state representative is calling for the legislature to review taxpayer funds that benefit the Chiefs in the wake of the protests during the playing of the national anthem.
Rep. Nate Walker of Kirksville said in a news release that the state gave the Chiefs $25 million in tax credits to move their training camp from River Falls, Wis., to St. Joseph, while also paying $3 million annually to the Jackson County Sports Complex Authority which manages Arrowhead Stadium — and Kauffman Stadium.
“The NFL is big business,” Walker said in the release. “Previous governors and legislators in Missouri have invested millions of taxpayer dollars into NFL facilities for economic development and entertainment purposes. Recent protests are impacting viewership, hurting the fan base of the NFL, and putting at risk all of our public investments. NFL stadiums have been a major investment of taxpayer money, and the league must remain popular to continue to have a positive impact on our local and state economy.
“The First Amendment protects players’ rights to protest off the field. But when Missouri first conceived the idea of publicly funding these stadiums, nobody thought the league would put political protest ahead of good business and civic responsibility. Taxpayers invested in a football arena that has now become a political arena. The NFL could have stopped these protests but chose to indulge its billionaire franchise owners and millionaire players to use public facilities to launch their political agendas. Where will it stop, what will be their next agenda item, and what will it cost taxpayers? This must end.”
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell on Tuesday sent a letter to all 32 teams saying he wanted players to stand during the anthem, and that the issue would be discussed at a meeting next week.
In his release, Walker said he will ask the legislature to form a joint committee to review funding for facilities and determine what options are available to “protect Missouri taxpayers.” That would include modifying existing agreements and contracts, filing a lawsuit against the NFL or banning future taxpayer funding of stadiums.
“If the NFL controversy continues, it will hurt our state and local economies,” Walker said in the release. “As legislators, we have a duty to the people of Missouri to ensure every dime of taxpayer money is used responsibly. It doesn’t matter what the protest is about or how important it is — unless the NFL changes, we cannot continue to support this enterprise with public funds.”