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Tax on D.C. sports team tickets?

Wizards, Caps, United and Mystics fans may have to pay a little more to watch their teams next fiscal year. Nationals fans, you're exempt.

A D.C. Council committee is recommendiing the adoption of a new tax on sporting events to generate an estimated $3.7 million in revenue to fund city recreation programs for fiscal 2011. Funding for the city's Department of Parks and Recreation has been reduced by 11 percent as the city grapples with a budget deficit.

Here's what would come out of fans pockets:

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Any admission ticket costing $25.02 or more would tack on an extra $1. Tickets valued at $25.01 or less would cost a fan an additional 50 cents. The tax would not apply to tickets under $10.01, according to a written recommendation of the Committee on Libraries, Parks and Recreation.

The Washington Nationals would be exempt from the tax because the team's contract with the city for Nationals Park prohibits new ticket taxes.

The committee did not vote on the tax but will recommend the levy to the Committee of the Whole on May 26 when the council will look at all of the suggestions on how to amend Mayor Adrian M. Fenty's proposed budget.

Council member Harry Thomas Jr. (D-Ward 5) said he had to find a way to save the city's recreation programs and saw that other cities have applied such taxes.

A council aide to Thomas said the new law may apply to college games, as well, with the exception of the University of the District of Columbia. Other exemptions include when a stadium is used by a public school, nonprofits and charities.

-- Nikita Stewart

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By Nikita Stewart  |  May 11, 2010; 2:28 PM ET
 | Tags: Adrian Fenty, Council of the District of Columbia, District of Columbia Council, Washington DC, Washington Nationals  
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Really? A new tax? As much as most of the DC teams suck (and I'm a loyal dc united season ticket holder), the city should pay US, the fans, to attend these games. Excepting the Caps.

Posted by: phburris | May 11, 2010 3:11 PM | Report abuse

What's the point of spending over $600 million in taxpayer dollars on a new baseball stadium if, when you're so desperate for money that you decide to add a special tax on sporting events, you exempt the tickets sold at the stadium you paid for? Did we not give baseball enough money yet? Or was the tax exemption a part of the epically horrific stadium deal?

Posted by: EdTheRed | May 11, 2010 3:15 PM | Report abuse

@Ed: yes. The epically horrific stadium deal bars the city from raising taxes on baseball tickets, parking, merchandise, concessions, etc.

Posted by: hungrypug | May 11, 2010 3:42 PM | Report abuse

Like we needed any reminder that when it came to the Nationals, the only questions the District government ever felt like asking had to do with how far to bend over.

And in return, the Nationals have repeatedly behaved awfully towards the District.

If I lived outside the District, I'd laugh at the stupidity of its government. But I live in the District, so I cry instead.

Posted by: christopher_a_metzler | May 11, 2010 4:13 PM | Report abuse

I have yet to visit the new Nats stadium, and I'm thinking now, I never will.

Posted by: torrey151 | May 11, 2010 6:03 PM | Report abuse

The DC council can take this tax and shove it...if the nationals are exempt, than it's prejudicial taaxation of other entities. Well done DC council, a pathetic idea.

Posted by: juke2 | May 11, 2010 8:35 PM | Report abuse

I don't go to any of these games but it does seem like another reason to move out of DC. What is next? Taxing tickets to see Gonzaga v. DeMatha? (Gotta be better than a Wiz game.) It is not like PG county is any better with the tax on Redskins tickets (what, 10 percent?). The least these politicians could do is give people a kiss before $cr&wing them. Or, maybe show some real guts, and tax luxury suites that make soooo much money for the pro teams. Oh, that is right, the DC council already has such a box at Nationals Park. Hmmmm, I am sure it is already exempt. Maybe the tea people are on to something. Govt. is out of control.

Posted by: buster5 | May 11, 2010 9:59 PM | Report abuse

What an inept city I live in. I really may have to follow through on my thoughts of moving to Virginia or Maryland. It's just ridiculous.

Posted by: mbyrd28 | May 11, 2010 10:11 PM | Report abuse

Those complaining about the Nationals Park agreement must think their mortgage is free as well. The city "gave" the Nationals the ballpark much like my bank "gave" me my mortgage...the city FINANCED the ballpark, meaning the owners/team repay the city (with interest). And these payments, according to DC's own top financial officer, are well ahead of schedule and the ballpark financing will be paid off by more than double by the term's end. Any private investor would kill for a return on investment like that (hence the reason Deutche Bank was trying to finance the park if the city didn't come through).

This "epically" bad stadium deal was a financing deal, not a briefcase of cash. No wonder so many people in DC are losing their houses, their populace evidently has no idea how financing works.

Posted by: VamosUnited | May 11, 2010 10:19 PM | Report abuse

There's a baseball team in DC?

Posted by: Hoost | May 11, 2010 10:28 PM | Report abuse

VamosUnited, before you go defending the Nationals stadium deal as the epitome of free enterprise, look at the total package. I've been paying my share of the stadium gross receipts tax that was part of the Nationals funding debacle for the past several years.

DC Gross Receipts Ballpark Taxes
Less than $5 million $0
$5 - $8 million $5,500
$8 - $12 million $10,800
$12 - $16 million $14,000
$16,000,001 and greater $16,500

If you think the Nats are paying their way you're delusional. The stadium deal was a huge transfer payment to the MLB owners who profited on the inflated price of the Nats franchise that they reaped because the stadium was so heavily subsidized by us taxpayers.

Posted by: JHBinDC | May 12, 2010 12:04 AM | Report abuse

Thank you VamosUnited. The Nats ballpark makes money for the city. And yes Hoost, DC has a baseball team and they have a winning record.

Posted by: logan9 | May 12, 2010 8:18 AM | Report abuse

I'll adjust the rest of my purchasing to get this back. I already don't eat or drink in the arena, I'll just get less when I get something afterwards. There are an amazing number of people who seem to spend upwards of $50 on concessions each game. I suppose they can either afford another $1 or they can drink one less beer and be $7 ahead.

Posted by: didnik | May 12, 2010 8:46 AM | Report abuse

Like anyone is shocked a Democrat would suggest a tax to pay for social programs!

This is just D.C.'s way of taxing the suburbanites as usual.

Posted by: clandestinetomcat | May 12, 2010 9:09 AM | Report abuse

The Nats have a winning record? Funny, I look at their record and see

2005: .500 W/L
2006: .438
2007: .450
2008: .366
2009: .364
2010: .562 less than a quarter of the way into the season.

Not what I would call a "winning record".

Posted by: janspoor | May 12, 2010 11:51 AM | Report abuse

@Vamos, you are right. The ballpark agreement is just a financing deal. It is also the most one-sided stadium financing deal of the modern era; no other city has borne such a high share of an MLB stadium.

Believing baseball in Montreal to be no longer viable, MLB's owners bought the Expos for $120 million. A few years later, they sold the Nats to the Lerners for $450 million. A little bit of inflation, the relocation of the team to DC, and (most importantly) the District's stadium financing package account for the difference in those two values.

The ballpark debt contributes to the District's overall debt cap, and today the District is not in a position to finance other large-scale projects, such as a stadium for DC United.

Posted by: hungrypug | May 12, 2010 1:37 PM | Report abuse

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