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Bill would require professional sports teams to play the national anthem at home games

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A proposed measure would prevent state, county, or municipal entities from making financial commitments with any professional sports teams or event sponsors that do not play the national anthem before each game or competition at home games.

Filed in December by Sen. Joe Gruters (R-Sarasota), SB 1298 would prohibit any government entity from entering an agreement that requires a financial commitment with a professional sports team unless that team agrees in writing that it will play the national anthem at the beginning events held at the team’s home venue or another facility it uses for home sporting events.

If passed, the measure would affect Florida professional football, basketball, hockey, or baseball teams as well as anyone hosting a professional car or motorcycle racing event or a Professional Golfers Association (PGA)- sanctioned golf event.

Nelson Luis, vice-president of communications for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers declined to specifically comment on the proposed legislation.

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“I can, however, confirm that we always play the anthem prior to every game,” he said.

No one from the Tampa Bay Lightning or the Tampa Bay Rays was available for comment.

The Senate’s Commerce and Tourism Committee passed SB 1298 on Jan. 18 by a vote of 7-1.

It advanced to the Senate Community Affairs Committee on Jan. 19.

If signed into law, SB 1298 would become effective on July 1.

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