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Syracuse Chancellor: Tax Bill Could Hurt Dome Upgrade

Jason Scott

The Republican-proposed tax bill making its way through Washington could have negative impacts for big-time college athletics.

The version of the bill passed by the House of Representatives eliminates a deduction that allows sports fans to write off athletics spending as a charitable contribution. Under current tax law, the donations that many schools require of fans looking to purchase premium seats are deductible.

Proponents of the change say that the current deductions aren’t truly charitable, since fans and donors receive something of value in exchange for them. However, eliminating the deduction has many college athletics officials concerned about the potential negative impact on fundraising.

From ABWill New Tax Bill Curtail College Athletics Giving?

One of those concerned officials is Kent Syverud, chancellor at Syracuse University. In a letter to U.S. Rep. John Katko, Syverud said that the bill blows up the funding model that the school used to plan for renovations to the Carrier Dome.

From the letter:

“While the ability to deduct premium seating as a charitable contribution has not been without its critics, the fact remains that the funds generated by such payments play a significant role with regard to supporting investments in athletic infrastructure, scholarships and student programs. Those investments, in turn, support an athletics enterprise at Syracuse University responsible for more than 3,249 local jobs and more than $140M in annual contribution to the local economy. Eliminating the deduction for premium seating — particularly given that the Bill also imposes a tax on licensing and trademark revenue generated by the Syracuse Athletics brand — will significantly and negatively impact the ability of Syracuse University Athletics to fuel economic growth across Central New York. These concerns are heightened when considered in the context of the planned renovations to the Carrier Dome. The ability to generate premium seating sales is a foundational assumption of the economic model that supports a bold Carrier Dome renovation.”

Syverud joins a group of officials, including Duke AD Kevin White, Alabama AD Greg Byrne and LSU AD Joe Alleva, in voicing concerns about the proposed bill. White told ESPN.com this month that if the deduction disappears, it would represent “a dramatic sea change in the college sports landscape.”

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