U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum, D-Minn. had the following statement upon hearing that the Army had announced Tuesday, July 10th, it will be discontinuing its sponsorship with Stewart-Haas Racing starting with the 2013 season:
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Washington, DC – Today, the Army announced that it would no longer sponsor the Stewart-Haas Racing, which includes racecar driver Ryan Newman. A longtime NASCAR sponsor, the Army had been with Newman at Stewart-Haas Racing when the team began three years ago. In her position on the House Appropriations Committee, Congresswoman Betty McCollum (MN-04) has been urging the Department of Defense to stop spending millions of taxpayer dollars on professional sponsorships. Although the military is using this money for recruitment purposes, facts indicate that professional sports sponsorships weren’t effective.
“By ending its sponsorship of NASCAR, the Army made the right move to eliminate a wasteful program and protect taxpayer dollars – which has been my goal all along,” said Congresswoman McCollum. “Congress is facing a very difficult budget environment, and I want taxpayer dollars protected – even at the Pentagon. I applaud the Army’s decision to terminate its funding of NASCAR. The Army now joins the Navy and Marine Corps in terminating its NASCAR partnership.”
“I will continue to work to save taxpayer dollars by ending all of the Pentagon’s multi-million dollar professional sports sponsorships of motor racing, bass fishing and ultimate fighting,” concluded Congresswoman McCollum.
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According to USA Today, the Army spent $16 million on professional sports sponsorships. Total spending by the Pentagon on all sports sponsorships – including motor racing, bass fishing and ultimate fighting – is over $80 million.
The U.S. Army has served as a primary sponsor in NASCAR since 2003, starting with MB2 Motorsports and Jerry Nadeau. The Army has been with Newman at Stewart-Haas Racing since 2009 and will spend $8.4 million on its NASCAR program this season, a total that includes a 12-race sponsorship for Ryan Newman’s No. 39 Chevrolet.
Even if the amendment is killed, the Army National Guard will likely have less money to work with next year, which means Earnhardt’s No. 88 team with Hendrick Motorsports could be impacted. The Guard budgeted $26.5 million on NASCAR alone in fiscal year 2012, down from $32.7 million in fiscal year 2011.
At issue for Rep. Jack Kingston, R – GA, who spearheaded the amendment this year, and McCollum has been the fact that the military has an inability to show that such sponsorships are effective in bringing in recruits.
In the meantime, according to John Myers, director of marketing support for the Army Marketing and Research Group, Army officials are in the process of signing a contract extension with Don Schumacher Racing through 2013 to continue the long-running sponsorship of the Top Fuel dragster for seven-time NHRA champion Tony Schumacher.
Source: Pioneer Press
UPDATE: According to NASCAR.com, NASCAR has joined with other major sports leagues in sending an open letter to the Speaker of the House in an attempt to table an amendment that would restrict branches of the military from using sports sponsorships as a recruitment tool. In a letter sent Monday to Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio), NASCAR, the NFL, NBA, Major League Baseball and the IndyCar Series urged the Speaker show “continued opposition” to the Kingston-McCollum amendment to the $608 billion 2013 Dept. of Defense appropriations bill currently before Congress. Introduced by Reps. Betty McCollum (D-Minn.) and Jack Kingston (R-Ga.), the amendment would bar the military from using funds for sponsorships in professional or semi-pro sports. A vote on the appropriations bill is scheduled for Wednesday, according to the weekly legislative calendar of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.)