Friday, April 11, 2014

Sin tax opponents propose $3.25 fee on all sports tickets; is pro-tax side getting scared?

The fight over the stadium sin tax just got more interesting.  After some uncertain steps, the opposition found its footing today. They proposed a simple alternative to the tax on alcohol and cigarettes -- a $3.25 facilities fee on every sports ticket.

"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.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

This issue is the absurdity of absurdities. Let me get this straight: the purpose of the Sin Tax is to gouge those who purchase alcohol and cigarettes not because anyone is trying to discourage consumption but rather so the County can use that money to pay for sports stadiums that do not produce anything but a fleeting moment witnessing the passing of a football, the dribbling of a basketball and the throwing of a baseball so that such a minute tidbit of diversion can be enjoyed by all. The stupidity of this proposition is enough to make your head spin even though the spin doctors advocating passage of this nonsense are already doing a pretty good job of hypnotizing the voters to actually consider supporting it. At least the Robber Barons of the previous centuries provided something tangible such as oil, steel, railroads etcetera. These team owners do not even provide one tangible thing that could ever be considered with the term “value added.” Almost everyone discusses this “enterprise” as though it is the same thing as industry {which it is not}. The price of admission is essentially a voluntary tax paid by those who can afford it to pay those who don’t need it. If this isn’t a transfer of wealth I don’t know what is.

The real outrage here is the fact that taxes on alcohol and cigarettes will not be used to aid in the reduction of addiction {hence the reference to “sin”} but rather to stuff the pockets of all three teams who could easily afford to pay for the repairs themselves. The vote was rammed through the last time {under somewhat suspicious circumstances} and hear we go again. But this time...not so fast!!! We the voters of Cuyahoga County are going to fight the proponents on this one and we don't care if the teams up and go somewhere else {please see my views on entertainment below} because quite frankly there are simply more important things than sports and the unearned money that comes with it. Those in public office who are too stupid and lazy to find other ways to grow a major American city need to resign and leave their self-seeking political ambitions on the scrapheap of history. Don’t ever let it be said that this was time when the tide ran out on Cuyahoga County but rather was the time when the voters rose up to welcome the rising tide of change and rebuked this pathetic paradigm our previous elected leaders embraced. Let the battle be joined.

And now to the real underlying issue at hand:

One of the most disturbing facts about our capitalist nation is the misappropriation of funds directed to the salaries of entertainers. Everyone should agree that the value an athlete, movie star, talk-show host, team-owner, etcetera brings to the average citizen is very small. Granted, they do offer a minuscule of diversion from our daily trials and tribulations as did the jesters in the king's court during the middle ages. But to allow these entertainers to horde such great amounts of wealth at the expense of more benevolent societal programs is unacceptable. They do not provide a product or a service so why are they rewarded as such?

Our society is also subjected to the "profound wisdom" of these people because it equates wealth with influence. Perhaps a solution to this problem and a alternative to defeated school levies, crumbling infrastructures, as well as all the programs established to help feed, clothe and shelter those who cannot help themselves would be to tax this undeserved wealth. Entertainers could keep 1% of the gross earnings reaped from their endeavor and 99% could be deposited into the public coffers.

The old ideas of the redistribution of wealth have failed, and it is time to adapt to modern-day preferences. People put their money into entertainment above everything else; isn't it time to tap that wealth? Does anyone think this will reduce the quality of entertainment? It seems to me that when entertainers received less income, the quality was much higher.