COLUMBUS, Ohio (WSYX/WTTE) — After months of debate, Columbus City Council voted to approve a ticket fee on pro sports and entertainment events in Columbus.
The council approved a 5% fee expected to raise $3 million per year. According to the city, 80% totaling $2.4 million will go to Nationwide Arena for long term capital improvements and maintenance. The other 20% totaling $600,000 will go to the Greater Columbus Arts Council to be disbursed to outside organizations to invest in other cultural arts facilities, public art, sports venues, and performance arts spaces.
"The passage of this tonight will mean that we'll be able to invest more publicly in the arts throughout the neighborhoods of Columbus and provide greater access for Columbus school children to the arts,” explained Tom Katzenmeyer, president of the Greater Columbus Arts Council.
The 5% fee is smaller than the original fee of 7%. The compromise earned support from the president of the Columbus Blue Jackets and co-founder of the Arnold Sports Festival, two people who opposed the original ticket fee.
One group refusing to budge in their opposition to the fee is Advocates for Responsible Taxation.
"We support the arts, we want to find a way to help fund the arts, but it has to be privately and not with additional tax dollars,” said Brett Adams.
Adams explained the problem is not the percentage, but the tax itself. He said public money shouldn’t go to organizations like Greater Columbus Arts Council and vows the fight is not over yet.
"We're prepared to go to the ballot box with referendum and take legal action."
Katzenmeyer said he’s not surprised by the pushback the ticket fee received, but said the outcome is fair.
"I think we've come up with a reasonable and fair compromise."
The 5% fee will go into effect July 1, 2019.
As for the vote on the memorandum of understanding with Columbus Crew SC owners, it was also unanimously approved. The city has agreed to provide $50 million in funding towards infrastructure around a new downtown Crew SC stadium.