NFL Star Richard Sherman: Stop Making Taxpayers Pay For Billionaires’ Stadiums

Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman talks to reporters before NFL football practice, Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2016, in Renton, Wash. CREDIT: TED S. WARREN

Richard Sherman for President? Don’t laugh before you hear his plan to tackle the deficit.

Talking to John Clayton on 710 ESPN Seattle, the Stanford graduate and Seattle Seahawks cornerback said that if he was elected to the White House, he would focus on getting America out of debt.

“I’d get us out of this deficit,” Sherman said. “I’d stop spending billions of taxpayer dollars on stadiums and probably get us out of debt and maybe make the billionaires who actually benefit from the stadiums pay for them. That kind of seems like a system that would work for me.”

Sherman might have been mostly kidding when talking about a presidential run, but the ridiculousness of stadium financing is no laughing matter.

According to an analysis from the Public/Private Partnerships for Major League Sports Facilities, $12 billion in public funds were used for 51 new sports facilities between 2001 and 2010. ThinkProgress previously offered suggestions for what could be done with that money, such as finance all subsidies for public school lunches for an entire year, provide year-long methadone maintenance for over 2.5 million drug addicts, or fund a preschool education for every three and four-year-old under the poverty line.

As Deadspin reported, the $430 million CenturyLink Field, the home of the Seahawks, was paid for with $300 million in taxpayer money, despite the fact that team owner Paul Allen is the 45th richest man in the world. Seattle taxpayers are on the hook for the stadium through 2021.

Very few stadiums buck this trend — although the new home for the Los Angeles Rams is pretty taxpayer friendly, compared to the rest. It is said to cost about $3 billion, but will only be receive $180 million in sales tax kickbacks.

The Biggest Surprise About The Rams’ Relocation to Los Angeles? It’s Actually A Win For Taxpayers.Sports by CREDIT: Damian Dovarganes, AP After years of rumors, speculation, and NFL owners using the empty Los Angeles…thinkprogress.orgPresident Barack Obama tried to solve this problem, but his budget proposal last year — which included a repeal of the tax-exemption for bonds that finance these arenas — didn’t pass through Congress.

So, while it’s unlikely that Sherman could accomplish what Obama couldn’t — and, needless to say, fixing this loophole wouldn’t single-handedly solve the deficit — it’s nice to see Sherman wading his toe into the political sphere. It’s rare for active players to get anywhere near politics; so far, the most famous football player to wade into the political arena is Tom Brady, who says he is “good friends” with Donald Trump, but won’t go beyond that. And it’s even more rare for a player to speak out against something that benefits the man who writes his checks.

For the record, Sherman said he would run as a member of the Independent Party. His slogan? “Make America The Place You Want To Raise Your Kids.” (He might need to make it more pithy, but it’s certainly got the right sentiment.)