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Pataki Budget Includes Sporting Event Surcharge

By Eileen Buckley

Buffalo, NY – Word is starting to spread that Governor Pataki has proposed a four percent ticket surcharge for sporting events that went largely unnoticed when he released his budget last week. But with Buffalo playing host to two major sports teams and minor league baseball, fans would be forced to shell out more to watch their favorite teams.

It was a story that surfaced in the Syracuse Post-Standard Wednesday. The proposed surcharge -- if approved -- would be attached to tickets for most sporting events like professional football and hockey. A Pataki budget division spokesman told the Syracuse newspaper it would be applied to admission charges that are already taxed. Revenues from the surcharge would be used to pay for various homeland security measures.

But the idea is not being well-received by the Buffalo Sabres. Director of public relations, Michael Gilbert, says word of this proposed surcharge comes at a time when Sabres owner Tom Golisano was finally able to lower some ticket prices.

"When Mr. Golisano purchased the Sabres in May, the first thing he did, on his first day, was reduce ticket prices across the board to make it more affordable for our fans," Gilbert said. "The last thing we want to see is a new tax on our tickets to increase the price. Fans already pay a lot for their tickets right now."

But Gilbert says it is only a proposal and he believes it is a long-way from being approved by the State Legislature. He says they will have to decide how to lobby against it.

"That is something we will have to look at as an organization internally as we go forward," Gilbert said. "But we are certainly not happy and the appropriate people are going to hear our frustrations."

Hockey and football fans already dole out local surcharges.

The Pataki administration says the proposed four percent surcharge would generate an estimated $39 million. It would also apply to college sports and amusement parks, but would not be charged at racetracks or wrestling and boxing events.