COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Ohio Senate advanced a bill Wednesday afternoon that would assist Cleveland and Canton in booking the 2020 NFL Draft, among other sporting events.
House Bill 531, having cleared the Senate 29 to 1, will go back to the House. Senators changed the bill and House members will vote Thursday on whether they approve the changes, said Rep. David Greenspan, a Westlake Republican who sponsored the measure with Rep. Kirk Schuring, a Canton Republican.
The bill would make up to $2 million available to communities that are trying to score professional or amateur events that are recognized by national governing bodies, or professional organizations.
Communities would only receive money if sales taxes were boosted as a result of the event.
After the event, the organizers submit a statement of costs that could qualify it for state money. Currently, communities can get up to $500,000, said Sen. Stephanie Kunze, a Columbus-area Republican, who noted the Cleveland Browns, Cleveland Indians, the Greater Cleveland Sports Commission and Ohio State University were among supporters.
Fans travel to a community for events and spend money on hotels, gas, meals, drinks and other expenses, said Sen. John Eklund, a Geauga County Republican.
“You don’t have to be a sports fan to know that big sports events are good for our community,” he said.
The money would pay for costs communities and their recruiting organizations incur, such as application and travel, extra police presence and cleaning crews.
The Senate changed how the bill is funded. In the version of the bill passed in the House, Schuring and Greenspan wanted to share with local governments and recruiting organizations up to half of sales revenues the event generated, contingent on there being a boost in sales tax revenues.
Greenspan said that Gov. John Kaisch wanted to change that amount to provide direct state funds, instead of a percentage of taxes. Greenspan said he and Schuring are fine with the amendment and will encourage other members of the House to OK it Thursday, when the bill returns to the chamber for concurrence.
Greenspan said he didn’t know why Kasich wanted the change. A spokesman for the governor didn’t reply to an inquiry, saying the governor doesn’t comment on pending legislation.
Over 30 states provide local governments assistance with major sporting events.
“On the application process to a lot of these events they ask, Is there state participation in providing support for the event? This allows our organizations to definitely check ‘Yes,’” Greenspan said.
Sen. Kris Jordan, a Delaware County Republican, was the only senator to oppose the bill.
Sen. Matt Dolan, a Chagrin Falls Republican, abstained from voting because his family owns the Cleveland Indians.