Morris Takes On Tax

AEG Live Rocky Mountain chief Chuck Morris may have to move the Mile High Festival from the Denver suburb of Commerce City if a proposed 8 percent entertainment tax is approved by voters, he told a news conference Oct. 15.

“We’ll have to take a very serious look at moving the location,” Morris told reporters as he and Kroenke Sports Enterprises VP Paul Andrews announced the “No on 2A” campaign, spearheaded by the two companies.

“This is not just idle chatter here. … If it’s going to jeopardize the future of our festival, we have to look at possibly moving it,” Morris said, according to the Rocky Mountain News.

The proposed tax is unusual for typical entertainment levies in that the author, a Commerce City councilman, placed it as a ballot referendum after the city council rejected a similar proposal on an 8-1 vote.

The only vote in favor was that of author Jim Benson. When the council failed to approve the tax, Benson collected enough signatures to place it on the municipal ballot.

It’s also unusual because, instead of proceeds going into city coffers, monies are specifically earmarked to benefit a single nonprofit: It would raise $7 million to build a city-owned center that would be leased to the Boys and Girls Club and sunset once the $7 million is reached.

“It’s very well intentioned, and the Boys and Girls Club is a cause I support,” Morris told Pollstar. “But it is misguided and would have a detrimental effect on fans who buy tickets to concerts. Especially during these tough economic times, it would hurt attendance.”

Morris added that he has been looking at the possibility of adding a second music festival in conjunction with the Mile High fest at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, similar to the Coachella and Stagecoach sister festivals in California, but that idea would likely be scuttled if the tax is approved.

“I’m going to have to take a long look at moving, and I hate to do that. [DSG Park] is a great site but, in today’s world, that difference in ticket price could be the difference between life and death.”

The tax would apply to concerts and sporting events, including those at DSG Park, the Kroenke Sports Enterprises-owned venue that hosted the inaugural Mile High Festival in July and is home to Major League Soccer’s Colorado Rapids.

It would also apply to movie tickets, nightclub cover charges and other for-profit events that charge admission. The tax is opposed by many other Commerce City businesses, according to the News.

Susan Kochevar, the owner of the only movie theatre in town, reportedly said she would be forced out of business if the tax is approved.

Morris estimates the tax would add about $15 to the price of a two-day ticket to Mile High Festival if approved, a price increase he believes would be unacceptable to many ticketbuyers.

AEG and KSE will work together on the campaign, which will include “No on 2A” advertising, direct mail and billboards.