"It takes the maintenance cost off the shoulders of those who can’t afford tickets or choose not to purchase them," says the No side's five-page, footnoted proposal, "and places it on those who actually use these venues, more than half of whom come from outside of Cuyahoga County."
At first, the opposition seemed like a pretty small group with a scattered message. But they are making headway. The Yes side on Issue 7 has decided it can't ignore them anymore. Are they getting scared?
The Keep Cleveland Strong campaign just sent out a press release saying a facility fee would "punish Cuyahoga County families and sports fans." It quotes three county council members and city council president Kevin Kelley.
"These various ideas have been hatched and then publicly floated with apparently little thought, and none of them have stuck," says an especially disdainful county councilman Dan Brady.
But this idea might stick -- at least as the counter-argument the town debates between now and May 6.
Will Issue 7 be a jocks vs. nerds vote? Fans surely don't want ticket prices to go higher. The Yes side notes it'll cost $13 more to take a family of four to a ball game. The average Clevelander may well prefer paying 7 cents on a six-pack of beer to that. Maybe the opposition has handed the sin tax side a winning argument.
But maybe not. Warnings of higher ticket prices could rebound against the teams. Our ticket prices may be low compared to other cities, but plenty of fans think they're gone up too much for frugal Cleveland. Think of the anger against the Indians' dynamic pricing system, which raised the cost of cheap seats by much more than $3.25 in the last few years.
Also, the No side cleverly notes that the Q already levels a $3 facility fee on concerts and all events other than games, and it doesn't seem to have hurt concert bookings.
Last week, Brent Larkin wrote cryptically that the Yes side's latest poll "shows that the tax extension has a reasonably good chance of passing, although it’s far from a sure thing." I think that means it's losing so far. That could change, as the Yes campaign ramps up its message. But it feels like the debate just realigned with 3 1/2 weeks to go.