Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis stood by his veto of $35 million in funding for a proposed Tampa Bay Rays spring training site after the team publicly pressed for new gun control measures.
Asked about the fiscal chin music at an unrelated press conference Friday, DeSantis said he didn’t endorse routing taxpayer money to professional sports teams — especially those engaged in “activism.”
“I don’t support giving taxpayer dollars to professional sports stadiums,” he said. “Companies are free to engage with or not engage with whatever discourse they want, but clearly, it’s inappropriate to be doing tax dollars for professional sports stadiums. It’s also inappropriate to subsidize political activism of a private corporation.”
The Florida team pledged $50,000 to Everytown for Gun Safety’s Support Fund and dedicated its social media channels “to offer facts about the impacts of gun violence” after deadly recent mass shootings in Buffalo and Texas.
“This cannot become normal. We cannot become numb. We cannot look the other way. We all know, if nothing changes, nothing changes,” read a tweet from the team’s account.
The funds voided by DeSantis were slotted for a new team facility in Odessa, Florida.
The Rays did not immediately comment on the controversy.
The veto — included in DeSantis’s state budget for next year — marks the Republican firebrand’s latest corporate confrontation over cultural flashpoints.
DeSantis led a successful campaign to strip Disney of its special tax privileges after the company opposed a bill banning instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity for kids in kindergarten through the fourth grade.
Backers said the legislation shielded children from sexualized content. Critics said it created a stigma around the LGBTQ community and fanned hostility towards the group.