A Baltimore councilman is seeking to limit the "convenience" fees Ticketmaster and other ticket sellers add to the price of admission to concerts and sporting events.
Councilman Carl Stokes, chairman of the council's taxation committee, introduced a bill Monday that would limit the amount of fees ticket sellers can charge to no more than 15 percent of a ticket's stated price. The bill also would require businesses to disclose such fees in their advertising in Baltimore.
"An average ticket has a convenience fee for Ticketmaster of 22 to 25 percent," Stokes said. "The bill reduces the average by half."
His bill would require every ticket and ticket advertisement in Baltimore to "disclose prominently" the price of the ticket and all fees added on by the ticket vendor.
The bill would create a tiered system for capping the fees. It would limit fees to 15 percent of the first $50 of a ticket. An additional 10 percent could be charged for the next $50 to $150, and another 5 percent for amounts above that.
Stokes said at least one club in Baltimore is charging convenience fees of up to 80 percent for ticket processing. He said venue operators use the convenience fees to avoid paying the city's arts and amusement tax, which takes 10 percent of ticket sales for the city's coffers.
He estimated the city is missing out on $500,000 in revenue from the uncollected taxes. "They don't pay taxes on the convenience charges," he said.
The legislation comes after the council voted in March to allow companies such as Ticketmaster to continue to charge unlimited fees when selling tickets to events in Baltimore. The council approved that bill to counter a court ruling that found the fees illegal under the city's anti-scalping law.
Council members had said the earlier bill would be temporary, until they had time to draft permanent legislation.
Stokes' bill immediately attracted three co-sponsors: Council President Bernard C. "Jack" Young and councilmen Warren Branch and Bill Henry.
A hearing on the bill has not been scheduled.