Baseball Commissioner Bowie Kuhn testified yesterday that the Carter administration's tax-reform package would bring "calamitous economic consequences" on the sport and inevitably lead to higher ticket prices.
Appearing before the House Ways and Means Committee, Kuhn was joined by National Hockey League President John A. Zeigler in denouncing the parts of the package dealing with tax deductions on tickets for sports events and other entertainment.
The law currently permits tax deductions for the cost of sports tickets and other entertainment expenses incurred in the conduct of business. The administration wants to eliminate the deduction for sports tickets.
Peter Gruenstein of Ralph Nader's Fight to Advance the Nation's Sports was the only witness to support Carter's plan. He contended sports franchises already are heaivly subsidized by the taxpayers because they play in municipal stadiums.
If the deduction is eliminated, Kuhn said, businesses "will simply shift their expenditures for 'entertaining' away from sports tickets to other types of expenditures which will be deductible."
A survey of the 24 U.S. teams in the major leagues showed that 12 million tickets were sold in 1977 to businesses on both a season-ticket and individual-for one-third of all the clubs' ticket game basis. The purchases accounted sales, Kuhn said.
If the deduction were not allowed, he added, some $67 million in tickets and concession revenue will be jeopardized - more than one-fourth of baseball's total revenue last year. The average loss to each club would be more than $2.8 million.
Since the club have high fixed costs, Kuhn said, they would be forced to increase ticket prices to recover lost revenue and ordinary fans might find themselves paying 50 percent more.
"This proposal would have the ironic impact of forcing baseball to significantly raise ticket prices for the family fan, although the 'reform' has been justified as an attempt to bring equity to that fan," he said.