Embattled Democratic Ohio gubernatorial candidate Ed FitzGerald threw a hail Mary pass in an attempt to bolster his flagging campaign on Thursday, proposing a ‘win tax’ on Cleveland sports teams. His plan would award 20 percent of Cleveland’s renewed sin tax – estimated at $2.6 million a year — based at least in part on how well the teams perform on the field. In May Cuyahoga County voters approved the extension of the sin tax on cigarettes and alcoholic beverages until 2035 to pay for maintaining Cleveland’s three publicly owned sports buildings.
“If competition is good on the field, maybe competition between these teams for these public dollars makes sense to incentivize them a little bit more,” said FitzGerald, who does not support competition for public dollars in education. “Our fan base is frustrated and they want the sense that their tax money is actually going to be supporting, to some extent, championship teams,” FitzGerald said.
FitzGerald, the current Cuyahoga County executive, showed reporters a slide show of Cleveland sports failures, contending that the city, with it’s 50-year championship drought, has one of the nation’s worst records in professional sports. He suggested there could be a “fan council” to determine which teams are more deserving of the tax revenues and called plans for equal tax sharing “distribution for dummies,” raising some eyebrows since that is the plan favored by Democrat Mayor Frank Jackson.
The “win tax” was immediately panned by nearly everyone in Cleveland. Community leaders from both ends of the political spectrum disagreed with the concept of performance-based competition for public dollars that fund the city’s beleaguered sports teams.