Koplik says admissions tax puts Oakdale in Wallingford at competitive disadvantage

Koplik says admissions tax puts Oakdale in Wallingford at competitive disadvantage

Record-Journal


HARTFORD — The owners of the Oakdale Theatre are again pushing for the termination of an admissions tax on tickets, saying the tax makes it more difficult to attract performers.

Live Nation Connecticut President Jim Koplik said he feels the state is at a competitive disadvantage because of its proximity to larger markets in New York City and Boston, and a 10 percent admission tax puts the Oakdale on unequal footing, even within the state.

“With the number of people in Connecticut, nobody wakes up in the morning and says I’m going to set my tour up and I’ve got to play Wallingford, Connecticut,” Koplik told the Finance, Revenue and Bonding Committee during a public hearing Friday on a bill to exempt the Oakdale from the tax.

The bill would grant the same exemption for athletic events at the Ballpark at Harbor Yard in Bridgeport.

Members of Wallingford’s legislative delegation are renewing their push for the exemption after a bill introduced by Rep. Mary Mushinsky, D-Wallingford, failed last year amid concerns over the loss of revenue.

Koplik said Friday that the tax also limits the Oakdale’s ability to attract artists. He said the average ticket price is between $40 and $50, meaning the tax takes away roughly $5 from each ticket.

He listed a number of other venues that are exempt from the tax, including the XL Center and Bushnell Performing Arts Center in Hartford, the Palace Theater in Waterbury, and the Garde Arts Center in New London.

The state first imposed the tax on the Oakdale in 1995 as part of tax incentive financing to cover $9.9 million of a $20 million renovation project. The state’s portion of the costs was repaid in 2015.

Republicans on the committee supported Koplik’s effort, with Sen. L. Scott Frantz, R-Greenwich, a committee co-chairman, calling it an “injustice” that the Oakdale is still subject to the tax.

Another co-chairman, Sen. John Fonfara, D-Hartford, couldn’t be reached for comment. Fonfara was able to get an exemption for Dunkin’ Donuts Park, the home of the Hartford Yard Goats, but said over the summer that a similar break for the Oakdale wasn’t included in a midterm budget adjustment because of the lost revenue.

Some lawmakers have been critical of the admissions tax because of the seemingly patchwork way the state applies it. Koplik said Friday that concerts at Harbor Yard, which Live Nation promotes, aren’t subject to the tax, but sporting events are, for example.

The state uses the proceeds from the admissions tax to pay off bonding for specific projects, with excess revenues going into the General Fund.

msavino@record-journal.com
203-317-2266
Twitter: @reporter_savino


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