Foul Ball

The Tigers don't quite make contact with the ticket tax

Last friday I received the following email message from the Detroit Tigers:


October 16, 2009


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Dear Tigers fans,

As you may have heard by now, the Governor and the Michigan Legislature are seriously considering charging sports fans a 6-percent luxury tax on all professional and college sports tickets sold in Michigan.

This tax would be applied to tickets for major league and minor league baseball, football, hockey, basketball and auto racing. It would also tax tickets to all college sports including football, hockey and basketball. It would also add a ticket tax to all concerts, shows and could even include movie tickets.

This tax is not on the sports teams - it is on you - the fans.

And all of us at the Detroit Tigers organization believe it is wrong to target the working families. Michigan would be the only state in the region to tax families attending movies, sporting events and concerts.

Fans Against the Ticket Tax was started to inform citizens of the potential for this legislation and to fight against this tax. We wanted to make you aware of this proposal and encourage you to speak out to the Governor and your representatives and senators in Lansing.

If you would like to voice your opinion on this issue, you can do the following:

1) Go to to join in the effort and tell the governor and your legislator what you think about the ticket tax.

Let them know there should NOT be a luxury tax on taking your family to a baseball game.

2) Send this email to all your friends and encourage them to get involved. Every email or phone call to Lansing will send a clear message that Michigan sports fans do not want the ticket tax.

Thanks for your help.

The Detroit Tigers


Now the ticket tax would be a lousy idea, but at this stage any new tax should be out of the question in Michigan.  The state is losing jobs and tax increases would drain more resources from the private economy that generates wealth and employment.  The Mackinac Center has demonstrated over and over again that state government could fulfill all its essential functions – and quite a few less essential ones – without new revenues by consolidating operations, cutting off counterproductive programs, and reforming expensive but non-productive laws like the prevailing wage (which adds upwards of $200 million to state construction annually) or the Public Employment Relations Act (PERA is responsible for hundreds of millions annually in inflated wage and benefit costs.)


It’s perfectly understandable that the Tigers would oppose the ticket tax, which would make baseball tickets more expensive for fans and might drive customers away from the ballpark.  This response is the equivalent of a foul tip however; they got a piece of the ball but didn’t hit it square.  A serious campaign against the ticket tax would not stop there, it would go on to explicitly oppose any and all tax increases, something that neither the Tigers nor Fans Against the Ticket Tax (the link in the Tigers email goes to their site) can quite bring themselves to do.


The problem in Michigan is that an elite of influential lobby groups, government union officials, and elected officials has achieved control over the state.  This group is held together by one thing: they are tied to government itself, either by their jobs or by privileges that they get from the state.  When government grows they prosper, regardless of what happens to the rest of the state.  This elite is inclined to view Michigan’s inhabitants as revenue sources for government rather than as citizens whose vocations are valuable in and of themselves.  The best way to take this elite on is directly, by protesting the overall size and expense of government.  As long as the tax debate is limited to “don’t tax this, tax something else” they almost certainly win because their assumptions about how much tax revenue government needs go unquestioned.  Eventually someone is going to be stuck with the bill.


Normally one doesn’t expect a ballclub to be deeply involved in political debates, but these aren’t normal times.  Having gotten themselves involved in the tax debate, the Tigers may as well go all the way and take a clear stance against tax hikes in general.  That would be the best way to look out for their fans and their own bottom line.