HARTFORD — Fans of the Bridgeport Bluefish would be free from the state admission tax, while those attending the games at the planned AA baseball stadium in Hartford would pay the 10-percent tax, under a bill considered today in the legislative Finance, Revenue & Bonding Committee.
Such is the dichotomy of governing during this deficit-budget season that the Bluefish games would be tax-exempt while the games for the Yard Goats, currently the New Britain Rock Cats, would cost an extra 10 percent, to help pay for the new stadium. The tails of the two animals, one terrestrial and the other waterborne, seem to be wagging this bill.
Jamie Toole, general manager of the Independent League Bluefish, which is owned by Past Time Partners, LLC., said that keeping the average ticket cost at $10 is crucial to retaining the fan base of the baseball club, which this week will start its 18th season. “Our ownership has operated Past Time Partners’s Bridgeport Bluefish at a deficit since their acquisition of the organization in 2009,” he said. “Relief from this admissions tax would put us on par with our neighbor The Webster Bank Arena or the Arena at Harbor Yard and also allow us to continue to provide affordable family entertainment.”
Also currently exempt from the tax is the XL Center in Hartford; non-profit theaters; carnivals and amusement rides; and interscholastic athletic contests;
Imposition of the admissions tax at entertainment venues occurred in 2011 as state lawmakers grappled with a record deficit.
Sen. Steve Cassano, D-Manchester, (left) said that attracting the New Britain baseball team to Hartford seems to be a case of hurting one nearby city for the benefit of another. “On the one hand it is probably a good move for the city. I think it will do well,”he said. “On the other hand, it is a blow to one of the other towns of our region: New Britain. I never have seen an announcement that they’re going to leave New Britain.”
Darrell Hill, chief operating officer for the city of Hartford, said that the team would likely have left the state if Hartford hadn’t offered the $350 million stadium, including a $60-million commitment from the city.
The Finance Committee deadline is May 1.
To: (1) Exempt professional baseball played at the Ballpark at Harbor Yard in Bridgeport from the state admissions tax, and (2) provide that admissions tax revenue from events at any stadium built to host class AA minor league baseball events in Hartford be allocated to reduce indebtedness incurred to build such stadium.