Freedom isn’t free — it costs about $7,500.
That’s the price for one of the giant American flags that take center-stage at sporting events around the country, a constant symbol of patriotism even amid the controversy surrounding some NFL players’ decision to kneel during the national anthem.
“Even watching it on TV I still get tears in eyes and a lump in my throat,” Amy Barnett, who runs 50 Star Productions – one of the companies that rents out the flags — told Fox News. “I love the patriotic-ness of it. The crowd loves it so much, it’s amazing.”
The Salt Lake City-based company said it has been booked for at least 120 games this year with sports teams paying around $4,000 to $7,500 to showcase the giant flags that are delivered in 14 pieces.
“Each stripe is a piece and the union is a single, solid piece,” Barnett said. The pieces are attached together to create huge American flags – some the size of entire football fields weighing 1,200 pounds – that require more than 100 volunteers to hold.
“We traditionally utilize the large flag for big games – Opening Day, 4th of July, Postseason Games, as it is a great part of the tradition of big baseball games,” Joe Jareck, director of public relations for the Los Angeles Dodgers, told Fox News.
The baseball team has been displaying American flags this week that stretch from foul line to foul line as the national anthem played during the opening two games of the World Series at Dodger Stadium. The Houston Astros have used the flag in a similar fashion during their 2017 postseason run.
“The big flag requires more than 100 volunteers to rehearse and unfurl the flag at the assigned time in pre-game,” Jareck said.
The displays – big and small — are carrying over to football stadiums as well, in cities such as Philadelphia, Denver and Indianapolis.
“We have been displaying the full-field flag during the National Anthem prior to our home games since our last season in the RCA Dome [in 2008],” Pete Ward, chief operating officer of the Indianapolis Colts, told Fox News. “We have no plans to stop doing so.”
And at high school football homecoming games across the country, teams are also joining in on the surge of patriotism, with a viral video of a flag-filled pre-game ceremony by a California team racking up more than six million views on Facebook.
The Burroughs High School football team in Ridgecrest walking onto the field with each player carrying American flags – with Lee Greenwoods “God Bless the USA” playing in the background – was a “very emotional display,” head coach Todd Mather said.
“There wasn’t a dry eye in the stands,” he told Fox News. “We never realized it would be this big.”
The school’s athletic director, Michele Lazaro, described Ridgecrest as a “very patriotic town” with a nearby Navy base, whose planes did a flyover for the game.
“We just wanted to honor our country and it’s the coaching staff that wanted to make it special for homecoming,” she said.