Columbus City Council will hold a public hearing Thursday on a plan for a new 5 percent ticket fee. The plan, announced Tuesday, comes after two months of debate and public comment on a proposal from the Greater Columbus Arts Council that called for a 7 percent ticket fee.
City Council President Shanon Hardin said 7 percent was too high but that the time has come to make a dedicated commitment to the cultural arts. “As a community, we need to invest and we need to invest in a real way that stabilizes them but also gives more room for access and inclusion,” Hardin said. “The only way that we can do that is to really bring a significant infusion of support and resources that makes sure that everyone has access to the great arts scene that we have.”
Supporters of the ticket fee say it’s needed if Columbus wants to compete with other larger cities in drawing top-notch arts and entertainment options, as well as the jobs and new residents that will come as a result. Those against it, say it’s nothing more than a Nationwide Arena bailout funded by residents but decided by city council.
Mike Gonidakis of Advocates for Responsible Taxation was disappointed by the new plan. “Going from 7 to 5 percent is nothing more than a charade,” Gonidakis said. “For the past several months, city council has heard an unlicensed outcry from citizens all across this city. We do not want a new tax. We do not want another Nationwide Arena bailout. And what are they giving us today? They’re giving us another Nationwide Arena bailout and a new tax. They didn’t listen.”
If approved, tickets that cost more than $10 to pro sporting events, concerts and other performances at Nationwide Arena, The Schottenstein Center, Ohio Stadium, Mapfre Stadium and Huntington Park, as well as tickets to nonprofit arts and cultural venues and events, movie theaters and golf courses, would be subject to the 5 percent fee.
The council plan would create two funds. One, to consist only of ticket fee revenue collected at Nationwide Arena events. Eighty percent of that fund will be used for maintenance of the facility. The rest will be used for maintaining other arts facilities in the community.
“What we heard was we didn’t want other institutions paying into Nationwide Arena,” Hardin said. “This plan does not do that. This plan makes Nationwide Arena a net supporter of the arts.”
The second fund will consist of revenue from the 5 percent ticket fee from all other performances and events at other venues with more than 400 seats.
Gonidakis says if council votes to approve the ticket fee, his group is prepared to try to force the issue to the ballot so voters can decide.
Arnold Schwarzenegger, the former Governor of California and the man behind the Arnold Classic weighed in on the ticket tax proposal Tuesday.
“I think it’s going to be damaging to businesses here in Columbus. I think it’s going to be damaging to families. I just don’t understand how you want to collect the tax from sports and give it to arts. It doesn’t make any sense to me,” said Schwarzenegger.
Schwarzenegger said the tax would have a direct impact on the success of the Arnold Classic, leading to higher prices and lower attendance.
“This is an unnecessary burden that we just feel is something we need to fight,” said Schwarzenegger. “I will do everything that I can do defeat it.”
Thursday’s public hearing will be held at City Hall beginning at 5pm.