Saratoga Surcharge Sticker Shock

The city of Saratoga Springs, N.Y., wants to tack on an additional $2 surcharge to tickets for rock shows at Saratoga Performing Arts Center, but pulled the issue off a July 21 agenda amid complaints from fans and local media.

The charge would apply only to rock shows – specifically those presented by Live Nation, which naturally opposes the fee.

Saratoga finance commissioner Kenneth Ivins told the Schenectady, N.Y., Daily Gazette that “we are just trying to recoup some of our costs” in police and fire department services before, during and after rock concerts and beyond costs of its own park police staff.

In addition to the Live Nation-promoted concerts, which this year have included Dave Matthews Band and Phish, SPAC presents ballet and orchestra performances, which would not be additionally taxed.

The surcharge at the 25,000-capacity SPAC could generate as much as $50,000 for a single sold-out date. The two-day DMB stand there would have generated an estimated $100,000 for the city’s coffers.

The proposal was set for a public hearing but was pulled from the agenda one day before the July 21 city council meeting. Ivins told the Daily Gazette “we are still doing more research … on how we go about it.”

He told the paper the surcharge measure would have to be approved by the city of Saratoga Springs and then sent to the state capital in Albany for approval by the New York legislature and governor. Even if the fee was quickly adopted by the council, it likely would not go before state officials until 2010.