As the City Council Monday takes up Northwestern University’s plans to rebuild Ryan Field, Mayor Daniel Biss will propose increases in two taxes on amusement events that would target the university.
One proposal would double the city’s current 6% tax on the purchase of alcoholic beverages to 12% when the purchase occurred at “any amusement in the city” with a capacity of 5,000 or more audience members.
The other ordinance would raise the amusement ticket tax for events with more than 5,000 patrons from 7% to 9% of the admission fee.
A staff memo says the 9% amusement tax is “in line with a similar amusement tax in the City of Chicago.”
And memos regarding the two proposals say the tax increases would help offset costs to the city for larger events that include “traffic congestion, parking and the need for an elevated police and security presence.”
The memos explaining the proposed ordinance do not indicate how much new revenue the changes would bring in.
But the city’s independent analysis of the Ryan Field project’s economic impact conducted by C.H. Johnson Consulting released last month estimated that the existing 7% amusement tax on tickets to the proposed six concerts at the stadium with an 28,000 spectator capacity would generate $500,000 in annual revenue for the city.
At the proposed 9% tax rate, that would presumably increase the annual yield to about $643,000.
The Johnson report indicates that at the current 6% tax rate on purchase of alcoholic beverages, sporting events at Ryan Field generate about $100,000 in annual revenue for the city. It does not forecast a major increase in that revenue with the addition of six concerts.
But doubling the tax rate on all liquor sales at the stadium presumably would double the revenue, to around $200,000 a year. And the higher liquor tax rate would also impact events held at NU’s Welsh Ryan arena, which which was not included in the Johnson study.
The city’s Liquor Control Review Board earlier this month postponed action on a proposal to repeal the 6% liquor tax and replace it with a 1.5% tax on the sale of food and beverages.