Lawmakers introduce bill to eliminate subsidies for pro stadium construction, citing in part Washington Commanders probe

The investigation into the Washington Commanders' workplace -- and the NFL's response -- served as an impetus for a bill introduced in Congress aimed at eliminating subsidies for professional stadiums.

Three members of Congress -- Reps. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.), Don Beyer (D-Va.) and Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) -- introduced a bill on Tuesday that would immediately eliminate a tax break used by professional sports teams. They labeled the bill the "No Tax Subsidies for Stadiums Act."

In a news release, Speier, a member of the House Oversight Committee, referred to sexual harassment allegations surrounding the Washington organization -- including owner Dan Snyder -- as well as the league's response to an initial investigation, as a primary reason for her support of the bill.

"The NFL has proven once again that it can't play by the rules. As such, taxpayers-subsidized municipal bonds should no longer be a reward for the Washington Commanders and other teams that continue to operate workplaces that are dens of sexual harassment and sexual abuse," Speier said in a statement. "It doesn't make economic sense, and it's particularly galling given the league's longstanding failure to address issues of sexual harassment and sexual assault as well as on-going racial and gender discrimination and domestic violence."

According to a release, the bill would eliminate the tax-exempt status of municipal bonds, which are used to finance professional stadiums. The Commanders are seeking to build a new stadium. Their lease on the land at FedEx Field expires after the 2027 season.

The NFL, through a spokesman, declined comment.

The NFL announced Friday that Mary Jo White would lead a new investigation into Snyder after allegations levied by Tiffani Johnston during a Congressional roundtable session on Feb. 3. She alleged that Snyder placed his hand on her leg at a work dinner and later tried to force her into his limousine. Snyder has denied the charges.

Johnston did not talk to attorney Beth Wilkinson during the NFL's initial investigation into the franchise. On July 1, the NFL announced a $10 million fine for Washington based on Wilkinson's findings.

But, in October, Congress started its own investigation into the NFL's examination and has pressed the league to hand over its documents. Both sides have said the league has been cooperating, but the committee continues to press them for more. There's a chance Congress could issue subpoenas or hold hearings to get the league to comply to its demands.

Money is also at the heart of Tuesday's bill. The release stated that the federal government had lost $4.3 billion in revenue because of these tax-exempt municipal bonds. That dollar amount was cited by the National Tax Journal in a March 2020 report, citing the 43 stadiums built since 2000 that were funded, at least in part, by tax-exempt municipal bonds.

"Super-rich sports team owners like Dan Snyder do not need federal support to build their stadiums, and taxpayers should not be forced to fund them," Beyer said in a statement. "Billionaire owners who need cash can borrow from the market like any other business."