VisitTulsa Eyes Changes to Quality Events Incentive

Feb 21, 2014

VisitTulsa and the Tulsa Sports Commission say the 2013 Bassmaster Classic had an economic impact of $26 million in the Tulsa area, but the state tax commission won't pay quality events incentives because sales tax revenue was higher the year before the event.
Credit Tulsa Sports Commission

VisitTulsa is working to change the state’s quality events tax incentive after the city’s application from the 2013 Bassmaster Classic was rejected this week.

VisitTulsa and Tulsa Sports Commission Senior Vice President Ray Hoyt said visitors bureaus statewide need the incentive fixed so they can continue to support big events.

"The state and the city reap a lot of tax benefit, but we should also reap some of that benefit to help pay for the costs of the event, because these things aren't free," Hoyt said. "The local communities and the sports commissions and the convention bureaus all have to chip in and provide funding for these events to get them here, to make sure that they're well-run."

The Quality Events Incentive Act calls for the Oklahoma Tax Commission to compare sales tax revenue in a defined area the year before the event to when the event took place. February 2013 brought in less than February 2012, so the tax commission won’t pay.

Hoyt said the calculation is flawed.

"If you had an active month where people were buying a lot of supplies and materials, say there was pending bad weather, and people spent a lot of money that month, then the next year it would be measured on that peak, or that spike," Hoyt said.

The 2013 Bassmaster Classic had an economic impact of $26 million, and Visit Tulsa budgeted around $1 million to host the event.

The most the tax commission can pay under the law is $250,000.