MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — President Donald Trump was factually wrong when he tweeted this threat Tuesday morning to the National Football League:
The NFL does not get “massive” tax breaks.
All the teams, including the Minnesota Vikings, always paid their own taxes.
The league used to be a tax exempt trade association, but not since 2015.
So there is no “tax break” to take away.
The White House reports what the president meant to say was state “tax giveaways” for NFL stadiums, like U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.
“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?” said White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.
What the president “meant” was not what he “said.” So, let’s Reality Check that.
Stadium subsidies? That is true.
In Minnesota, taxpayers kicked in $500 million for the $1 billion Vikings stadium.
Nationwide, from 1996 to 2017, NFL teams built stadiums costing $15 billion, and taxpayers paid $7 billion — almost half the cost of every NFL venue in America.
The president’s “Tweet Week” includes multiple tweets and statements attacking the NFL over the “take a knee” controversy.
It is a war on the NFL that President Trump began more than 30 years ago.
He was the owner of the New Jersey Generals in the mid-80s, which was a team in the rival USFL football league, which featured players Doug Flutie and Herschel Walker.
The future president convinced fellow owners to sue the NFL for violating antitrust laws.
“If we weren’t discriminated against so badly, as the NFL has done, this league would be very, very successful,” said Trump in an interview in the mid-80s.
The USFL actually won the case, but the league folded after the jury awarded the owners — including Trump — a grand total of $1.
NFL owners will likely discuss player protests at a meeting next week.
The league said Wednesday that it has no plans to mandate players to stand during the National Anthem, or punish those who kneel.