On Friday, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) confirmed his plan to veto legislation containing $35 million for a Tampa Bay Rays facility.
In the past, the governor has made it clear that he does not support using taxpayer dollars to fund professional sports stadiums, “period.”
During a press conference on Friday, a member of the media questioned DeSantis about the reports indicating his intention to veto the bill, and asked whether the decision had anything to do with the Tampa Bay Rays’ recent political statements.
Last week, the baseball team joined the New York Yankees in dedicating their social media to anti-gun rants, attacking the Second Amendment and showing their support for initiatives that would chip away at the American people’s right to self-defense. The Rays proudly announced their intention to commit $50,000 to the Michael Bloomberg-affiliated Everytown for Gun Safety’s Support Fund.
In response to the question, DeSantis made it clear that his decision not to fund the team’s stadium was solely based on his belief that teams should not be supported with taxpayer money.
“I don’t support giving taxpayer dollars to professional sports stadiums, period,” the governor said to applause. “That was just the decision that was going to be made.”
DeSantis went on to make it clear that companies are “free to engage or not engage with whatever discourse they want,” though the governor did note that he believes it to be completely inappropriate for the government to “subsidize political activism” of any particular corporation.
“But clearly, it’s inappropriate to be doing tax dollars for [a] professional sports stadium — it’s also inappropriate to subsidize political activism of a private corporation,” the governor said, concluding that “either way,” it is “not appropriate.”
“We were not in a situation where use of tax dollars for a professional stadium would have been a prudent use, and again, you know, I set that limit as to what we were going to spend and we made sure that we were doing [that],” DeSantis continued.
“What we try to do with these — with these projects, you know, is doing things that really are benefiting the community as a whole, more so than maybe one specific interest or one specific company,” he added.
The bottom line is, if the Tampa Bay Rays can afford to spend money on political activism, they can afford to spruce up their own facility. DeSantis is right, there are much better ways to spend Floridians’ tax money.