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Bengals Ticket Tax in Cincinnati May Not Make the November Ballot

Paul Brown Stadium and Great American Ballpark separated by The Banks Project
Paul Brown Stadium and Great American Ballpark separated by The Banks Project

We've been reporting on a pending ticket tax for a while now, but if you don't know, basically a Hamilton County Commissioner, Todd Portune, has proposed a tax on Bengals tickets that could raise the price of tickets for Bengals games by up to $14. In exchange, the burden of stadium upkeep would bo paid for by those who use the Bengals facilities, ticket holders, and not everybody who lives within Hamilton County.

There have been mixed feelings about this tax. While it makes sense to make the people who use the stadium pay for its maintenance, Bengals ticket prices were already a little pricey and adding an extra tax to them could hurt the team's chances to sell out which then causes the games to be blacked out. I understand that not everybody is a Bengals fan, or even a football fan, but there are enough to complain about this happening.

Either way, according to The Cincinnati Enquirer's Sharon Coolidge, the proposed ticket tax might not make it on the November ballot for Hamilton County voters to pass. That's because the supporters of this movement haven't turn in one single signature of the 7,468 signatures required yet and the deadline is approaching quickly.

The Hamilton County Board of Elections has to certify that 7,468 signatures in favor of the idea are from registered Cincinnati voters -- a time consuming process that can't start until Signatures are dropped off. The deadline to put a charter amendment on the November ballot is Sept. 9.

Portune would not say how many signatures that he has collected so far but even if he has almost all of the signatures required, there's a chance that the movement still won't make it on the ballot because the board of elections has to verify that all the signatures are from the right people -- registered Cincinnati voters. For example, a group submitted 8,682 signatures to the Hamilton County Board of Elections to have a vote put on the November ballot to make MLB Opening Day a ceremonial holiday, but 81 percent of those votes ended up being invalid because they were from people outside of the city.

So, the time is running short for Portune and the proposed ticket tax, but nothing is impossible. Even though Cincinnati City Solicitor John Curp believes that anything that is going to appear on November's ballot should be filed with the city already, Board of Elections Deputy Director Amy Searcy said she won't count anything out yet.

"I never say it's impossible until the last bell has run," she said. "I have seen some pretty impressive signature gathering by people who feel passionate about their issue."

If the ticket tax doesn't make the November ballot, Hamilton County will need to find a way to pay for both Paul Brown Stadium and Great American Ballpark (the home of the Reds). The sales tax that was passed in 1996 for the construction of the stadiums has fallen short and the expected deficit for next year is projected at $15 million.

Portune is still working hard to get the required signatures.

"I am not giving up hope we can do it," Portune said. "There are a lot of petitions in the field, we have a lot of endorsements and we're going to pull out all the stops over the weekend."