Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey signed a bill into law Wednesday that could create a unique way for Arizona sports teams to finance building and renovating stadiums and arenas.
House Bill 2835 extends and modifies legislation passed more than a decade ago that allows for the creation of “theme park districts.” These districts are allowed to borrow money by issuing government bonds and then pay them back by taxing specific items within the district.
The Arizona Diamondbacks were lobbying for the bill to be passed. Derrick Hall, the team's CEO, said the Major League Baseball franchise would use the bill to propose the creation of a theme park district around Chase Field in downtown Phoenix. The team would borrow $500 million to repair and upgrade the two-decade-old stadium and would tax ticket, concession and retail sales at Chase Field to finance the deal.
Diamondbacks’ attorney Nick Wood said the tax is more like a user fee because it is only being charged to people already paying to go to games and choosing to spend money at Chase Field. The law allows for a tax to be as high as 9%, but the theme park district can decide which sales are taxed and at what rate.