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New Ticket Fee Would Fund Arts Organizations, Capital Improvements for Nationwide Arena

Lauren Sega Lauren Sega New Ticket Fee Would Fund Arts Organizations, Capital Improvements for Nationwide ArenaPhoto by Walker Evans.
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In September, the Greater Columbus Arts Council (GCAC) and partners are expected to propose a plan to Columbus City Council to levy a seven percent fee on virtually all event tickets in the city.

Dubbed the “user fee,” the additional charge would be applied on admission to events at any for-profit or nonprofit organization in the City of Columbus. This includes concerts, performances, and movies, as well as events at the Ohio Stadium, Nationwide Arena, Schottenstein Center, Franklin County Convention Center, the Ohio State Fairgrounds, and the Columbus Zoo. It excludes college and high school sporting events.

The fee is expected to generate $14 million annually, and all revenue would be distributed to the nonprofit arts and cultural organizations funded by GCAC. It would also go toward capital improvements to the 18-year-old Nationwide Arena.

The fee is the latest method to get city taxpayers to cover the cost of upkeep at the arena, which was publicly purchased in 2011. Revenue from a casino tax, imposed to pay off the arena, has come up drastically short of what was projected — just enough to cover management and operational costs of the venue.

The arena needs an estimated $4 million in capital improvement funds each year for upcoming roof repairs, and scoreboard upgrades, and “to be up to date, well maintained, and competitive as a major attraction for residents and visitors.”

In a statement released by GCAC, it’s said that Nationwide Arena lags behind other major event venues around the state in renovation funding.

“Nationwide Arena is nearly 20 years old, and while the structure is sound, renovations or improvements have largely been deferred since its opening,” reads the statement. “In comparison with other major league arenas, Nationwide currently ranks last in capital improvements.”

The initial collector of the fee will be whichever entity is selling admission to any given event. Using an accounting and invoicing structure provided by the City, that entity can then submit the collected fees “on a regular schedule determined by the Auditor’s Office.”

Legislation for the fee is currently in the drafting phase. It will head to city council in September, where it will be reviewed, then discussed through public hearings, where members of the community can voice their comments and concerns.

Barring any complications, the user fee is expected to be enacted on January 1, 2019.

For more information, visit gcac.org.

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