Here’s How Much the Pentagon Paid Boston Sports Teams to Honor the Troops

'Paid patriotism' has since been banned by the Department of Defense.

More often than not, the military salutes at professional sporting events are the result of contracts between the Department of Defense and and the home team, who—and I’m going out on a limb here—could probably spare a few hundred-thousand dollars.

News broke in April that the New England Patriots and New York Jets’ weekly salutes to local servicemen and women were paid for with taxpayer money. In a joint oversight report released Wednesday, Senators John McCain and Jeff Flake took a closer look at “paid patriotism” and the $6.8 million of taxpayer money the Department of Defense has spent on sports marketing contracts since fiscal year 2012.

“By paying for such heartwarming displays like recognition of wounded warriors, surprise homecomings, and on-field enlistment ceremonies, these displays lost their luster,” the pair wrote in the report’s introduction. “Unsuspecting audience members became the subjects of paid-marketing campaigns rather than simply bearing witness to teams’ authentic, voluntary shows of support for the brave men and women who wear our nation’s uniform.”

In response to their findings, McCain and Flake introduced an amendment to the 2016 National Defense Authorization Act, effectively banning taxpayer-funded salutes to the troops.

“The DoD’s complete lack of internal controls for awarding, managing, and overseeing these contracts puts them at an excessive risk for waste, fraud, and abuse,” McCain and Flake wrote. “Beyond being a question of it this contracting activity reflects appropriate judgment or fiscal stewardship of taxpayer funds, the fundamental question at hand is if this spending reflects appropriate national security priorities.”

So how much did Boston sports teams receive since FY2012, and what perks and salutes did they provide on the taxpayers’ dime?

New England Patriots


  • Recognition of one Massachusetts Army National Guard (MAARNG) soldier at each home game in FY2012, 2013, and 2014
  • Four season tickets, four pregame field passes, and one VIP parking pass for each preseason and regular season home game in FY2012, 2013, and 2014
  • 160 general admission tickets and 120 tailgate passes, food and drink included, in FY2012, 2013, and 2014
  • 120 training camp passes since FY2012 and access to a hospitality suite
  • Non-gameday use of “super suite,” food and drink not included, in FY2012, 2013, and 2014

Boston Bruins


  • Military Appreciation Night in FY2012 and 2013
  • National anthem performance by the MAARNG Voices of Freedom in FY2013
  • A color guard and reenlistment ceremony in FY2013
  • In-game recognition ceremony for 20 honor graduates of the MAARNG Recruit Sustainment Program and 43 tickets to the game in FY2012 and 2013
  • Recognition of two MAARNG soldiers and their guests during all November home games in FY2012 and 2013
  • One luxury box for 18 people and one executive view suite for 25 people on Military Appreciation Night in FY2013
  • Four loge tickets for 10 regular season home games in FY2013
  • 40 tickets for soldiers recognized during Military Appreciation Month in FY2012 and 2013
  • 40 general tickets to home games in FY2012 and 2013

Boston Celtics


  • Recognition of three MAARNG soldiers per six home games in January in FY2012, 2013, and 2014
  • Recognition ceremony for 14 honor graduations of the MAARNG Recruit Sustainment Program during a Celtics home game in FY2012, 2013, and 2014
  • 58 tickets for MAARNG solders on Soldiers Night in FY2012, 2013, and 2014
  • 40 general tickets to home games in FY2012, 2013, and 2014
  • 36 tickets for MAARNG soldiers during Military Appreciation Month in in FY2012, 2013, and 2014

Boston Red Sox


  • 20 general tickets in FY2014

The report also commends work done by individual players to salute the troops, including former Patriots tackle Matt Light’s visit to Greece and Afghanistan in 2013, and tight-end Benjamin Watson’s visit to U.S. bases throughout the Persian Gulf in 2007.

You can read McCain and Flake’s full report here.