Added city taxes on sports teams would likely be paid by the state

Leases of Ravens, Orioles require pickup of levies

May 28, 1999|By Jon Morgan | Jon Morgan,SUN STAFF

If Baltimore imposes extra taxes on the Orioles and Ravens to balance its budget, the state of Maryland, not the teams, would likely end up paying the new levy.

Under the leases both teams have with the Maryland Stadium Authority, the state agency would have to essentially reduce its admissions tax on the teams to make up for what the teams would have to pay the city.

City leaders, facing an expected budget shortfall beginning next fiscal year, have suggested a number of possible remedies, including an increase in admission taxes for Oriole and Ravens games.

Both teams pay a 10 percent admission tax on tickets -- the maximum permitted under state law. The money is shared with the city under a formula that reflects the intense legislative negotiations in 1987 that resulted in state funding for Camden Yards: 20 percent is rebated to the city, and the city, in turn, pays the stadium authority $1 million a year.

The state uses the money to pay off bonds used to finance the $500 million twin-stadium project.

Any additional taxes the teams are forced to pay beyond the 10 percent ticket levy would require the stadium authority to extend to the teams tax credits for the same amount, under their leases.

Stadium authority general counsel Alison Asti said legislation has been submitted to the City Council in the past to raise additional taxes from the teams. The authority opposed those bills and would do so again, she said.

"The bottom line is they would take money away from the state and give it to the city," Asti said. "The teams would not be hurt."

Del. Samuel I. Rosenberg, a Baltimore Democrat, said many lawmakers would view an additional city tax on the teams as a violation of the understandings in place when stadium funding was approved.

"That would not be well-received in Annapolis," he said.

Pub Date: 5/28/99

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