Proposed Amusement Tax Earns Criticism From Sands Bethlehem Event Center

BETHLEHEM, PA (CelebrityAccess MediaWire) — Bethlehem Mayor John Callahan's proposed %5 amusement tax on event tickets drew criticism from the Sands Bethlehem Event Center.

Jerry Deifer, a spokesman for Vision Entertainment Group which partnered with Sands to open the Event Center characterized the tax increase in a press release as "ultimately too much for our business to handle." Deifer went on to say that "one incentive behind bringing our business to the city of Bethlehem was the lack of a city wide amusement tax.”

According to Deifer, the proposed tax would make ticket prices higher for the general public.

Mayor Callahan introduced the proposed tax during his budget address on Nov. 9. According to Callahan, the tax, called the 'first responders fee' will bring in $600,000 annually, which the city would use to fund its fire, police and emergency medical services. The town is currently facing a $3.5 million shortfall for its 2013 budget.

While the Sands Bethlehem Event Center would likely be the venue most heavily affected by the proposed tax, other Lehigh Valley venues that would be hit by the tax include the SteelStacks arts and entertainment district, Musikfest, the Zoellner Arts Center and Stabler Arena.

The 3,500-capacity, 50,000 square foot Sands Bethlehem Event Center opened earlier this year and is booked by Live Nation. – CelebrityAccess Staff Writers