Taxed at the gate

When hearing about Gov. John Kasich’s new tax proposal that would in effect charge a sales tax on admission to high school sporting events, the reactions by local athletic directors were all the same.

If passed, this could have a hugely negative effect on already struggling high school sporting events.

On Monday, Kasich proposed to cut the state’s overall sales-tax rate while also putting the lower 5 percent sales tax on a new list of activities, which includes taxing on admissions to all levels of sports from professional to high school. Also included on the list are admissions to cultural events, amusement parks, billiard parlors and bowling alleys to name a few.

“There is a big difference between entertainment that is in business for profit and a school system,” Warren G. Harding athletic director Paul Trina said.

Howland athletic director Ron McCleary concurred with Trina’s thoughts, but even took it a step further.

“The venues are not the same between pro and high school,” McCleary said. “The professional level is controlled by corporate money, we don’t have that kind of backing. It’s difficult to stay in the black as it is with the way the gate receipts are right now, let alone something like this happening.”

Both McClearly and Trina agreed that schools are struggling to lure people to sporting events under the current ticket prices. The athletic directors are worried what it would do to future gate receipts if this passes.

“One of the things that are happening in 2013 is that we are seeing a drop off on athletic revenues,” Trina said. “School systems are trying to balance a budget. If there’s going to be a tax added on, it’s not going to help cause.”

Currently, the individual conferences set ticket prices, but generally the prices are set at $6 for adults and $4 for students for a regular season game. For events sanctioned by the Ohio High School Athletic Association, like the basketball sectional tournaments that are being held now, the cost is $6 for adults and $4 for students if bought prior to the game. If tickets are bought at the gate, the price is $7.

If Kasich’s plan were to be approved, the leagues and the OHSAA would have to sit down and decide how this tax would be implemented to the spectators.

“If you would tax on the tickets, that would obviously raise the price and I think it would discourage some people from coming over a period of time,” McCleary said. “You’ll undoubtedly have an effect over the haul.”