Columbus City Council to hear ticket tax proposal

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It's a question that is seemingly dividing consumers: Should Columbus put a seven percent tax on tickets?

"We've known for many years, close to 15, that Columbus is tremendously underfunded publicly in the arts," Jami Goldstein said.

Goldstein is with the Greater Columbus Arts Council. She says three years have been spent looking into every other possible option, but a ticket fee is a responsible way to invest in Columbus.

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"We believe the people of Columbus who support arts culture and attend regularly will take this very small fee and be confident knowing that it's invested back into the community," she said.

The tax, if approved, would generate about $12 million a year. Goldstein says 70 percent would go to arts and culture and 30 percent will go to Nationwide Arena for capital expenditures, which is estimated at $4 million a year.

She says it's not a broad tax. It would only be paid for by people who support the arts.

"It's not a broad tax, which is our objection," Bret Adams said. "It only taxes those businesses that compete with Nationwide Arena and compete with the non-profit organizations in Columbus."

Adams is a sports entertainment attorney. He says the tax would not be fair.

"Why should Studio 35 be subsidizing for Nationwide Arena," he asked.

The tax would be applied to non-profit arts and cultural organizations, attractions, performing arts, movies and sporting events like tickets for the Columbus Blue Jackets. He says what's not fair about that is that CBJ doesn't pay anything to use nationwide.

And, some fans agree.

"I think it's a little steep," Keith Thompson said.

Thompson has been a season ticket holder the better part of 10 years. So has Debbie Brown. She says since she attends games she doesn't mind to pitch in.

"I have no problem with that," she said. "But, really, seven percent?"

With the increase, Thompson says that's an extra $500 on his tickets. But, it's something he's willing to pay.

"Well, yeah," he said. "I can't miss a game."

Goldstein says the proposal includes exemptions for the tax, including tickets $10 or less and live arts venues with 400 seats or less.

City Council will meet on this matter, Thursday, at 5 p.m.