Thursday, May 17, 2012

Showdown on the river in Chester

There’s a very interesting power play going on down on the Chester riverfront.
It’s along the water – powered by the arrival in recent years of some powerhouse attractions such as Harrah’s casino and PPL Park – where the city’s much-ballyhooed economic turnaround is rooted.
And that is exactly where the city is looking for a bigger share of the pie.
Chester is considering some new taxes on entertainment events and parking. Both would seem to have Harrah’s and PPL Park directly in their sights.
Harrah’s is launching a big-time effort to brand itself as a regional entertainment hub. Last week they kicked off things with a concert out on their track by southern rock icons Lynyrd Skynyrd.
PPL Park, of course, is home to the Philadelphia Union of Major League Soccer.
The city is toying with the idea of slapping a 10 percent amusement tax on tickets and 20 percent tax on parking.
As you might guess, the leaders of the Union are not thrilled at the prospect of losing a good chunk of their revenue. They have said they already are shelving a plan to build offices and a practice center next to the stadium.
Interestingly enough, Union boss Nick Sakiewicz and Chester Mayor John Linder shared a stage yesterday in Philadelphia, announcing a big-time rugby event for PPL Park in June.
Not everybody believes this plan will ever come to fruition. For now, Linder indicates he plans to sit down with Union officials next week.
You can get all the details here.
This one will be fascinating to watch.
One thing to keep in mind. Both these venues sit in Keystone Opportunity Zones, which makes them free from property taxes. But that designation expires in 2013.
The KOZ is used to lure business into areas looking to reverse their economic fortune. That obviously worked here.
What happens after the tax break expires is anyone’s guess.

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