Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Audit Finds 'Loophole' Lets Stars Dodge City Fee on Shows

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Audit Finds 'Loophole' Lets Stars Dodge City Fee on Shows

Article excerpt

Kenny Chesney and Taylor Swift both played to big crowds at Heinz Field in 2013. But what they paid for use of the stadium ended up being as divergent as their audiences.

While Ms. Swift paid $70,411 based on the 3 percent facility usage fee levied by the city, Mr. Chesney forked over a mere $131, according to an audit released Tuesday by city Controller Michael Lamb.

The 3 percent fee is paid by non-resident entertainers, performers, athletes and other for-profit users of Heinz Field, PNC Park and Consol Energy based on the person's salary for the time they are in the city.

Mr. Lamb's performance audit regarding the direct revenue received by the city from the sports venues found big discrepancies in the amounts paid by the performers who played at those facilities, and at Mellon Arena before it closed, between 2009 and 2013, the period measured.

The controller suspects that some performers have "found a way to say I didn't make any money that night." In some cases what entertainers reported as income in a performance ended up being "significantly less than what we see from the gate," he said.

While the audit concluded that the properties owned by the Pittsburgh Sports & Exhibition Authority and the city Stadium Authority have generated $107.2 million in taxes and fees for the city over the five-year period, the disparities related to the facility usage fee stood out.

For instance, during Consol Energy's first year in 2010, Paul McCartney paid $75,000 and $57,329 in usage fees in his two performances opening the arena, while Lady Gaga ponied up $22,571 for her show, the Eagles $11,273, and Justin Bieber $16,333. The Trans Siberian Orchestra paid $704 and the Harlem Globetrotters $102.

At Heinz Field in 2011, Ms. Swift paid $63,486, while Mr. Chesney forked over $135. …

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