2024 NASCAR ticket price up to $270 higher thanks to Chicago tax

2024 NASCAR ticket price up to $270 higher thanks to Chicago tax

The typical racing fan will pay an extra $22 for general admission to Chicago’s NASCAR “Street Race Weekend” thanks to the city’s amusement tax. Luxury seating could cost residents more than the price of a standard ticket in taxes alone.

Memorial Day heralds the unofficial start of summer but planning for fun also means budgeting for Chicago event taxes: For racing fans that will mean between $22 and $270.

Those are the city taxes tacked on to the listed price for a ticket to Chicago’s NASCAR “Street Race Weekend” July 6, thanks to the city’s amusement tax. The $270 tax amount is for NASCAR fans planning to purchase a luxury seat at the Founder’s Club, which puts the city’s tax for that prime spot higher than the cost of a standard admission ticket.

The Cup Series’ inaugural race through the Loop, up the Magnificent Mile and down DuSable Lake Shore Drive is the second of three contracted through 2025 by former Mayor Lori Lightfoot. She pushed the race as a new revenue source for the city.

An economic impact report by Choose Chicago found the stock car race through downtown drew 47,405 unique attendees during the two days of racing last year. More than half of the visitors come from outside the city.

The NASCAR race reportedly generated $108.9 million in economic impact, making it the second-most impactful Chicago Sports Commission event. Analysts also found the event generated $8.3 million in local and state taxes.

And $1.8 million of that revenue came from the 9% amusement tax Chicago applies to purveyors and consumers of entertainment, including live concerts, theatrical performances and even Netflix subscriptions.

Data from the Chicago Department of Finance shows the city raised over $199.4 million from the amusement tax in 2019, before venues were closed to mitigate the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

But revenues have bounced back and gone higher. The city collected roughly $258.1 million from the amusement tax last year – $22 million more than the city brought in during 2022, according to a Freedom of Information Act request.

Chicago’s amusement tax is one of the highest in the country, and the second highest among the few big cities that charge a similar tax in the Midwest. Indianapolis is highest.

During the past decade, the amusement tax alone has generated nearly $1.83 billion for the city. Plus, Chicago’s amusement tax is not the only tax on tickets.

There’s an additional 3% racing fans will pay toward Cook County’s own amusement tax. There’s also the 10.25% combined state and local sales tax levied on the final ticket price.

Mayor Brandon Johnson promised the 2024 Chicago race would be an even better deal for the city, with NASCAR leaders pledging to shorten set-up times by six days and offering an additional $2 million payment to the city.

However, several City Council members have expressed concerns about how the race will inconvenience residents during the Independence Day weekend. They also question whether the $2 million hand-shake deal will be enough to cover the city’s costs.

Ald. Bill Conway criticized Johnson’s decision to invite NASCAR back “without consulting City Council as promised or collaborating on a full cost-benefit analysis.” He said it was “irresponsible for a municipality to do a multimillion-dollar deal with a large organization and not get that in writing.”

A Chicago Tribune report suggested the additional millions will still fall short of the more than $3.5 million in overtime costs the city spent on the inaugural race last summer.

But NASCAR officials countered that in addition to the $2 million, they’ll be paying a $550,000 flat fee to the Chicago Park District plus a $2 per ticket fee and 20% of net food, beverage and merchandise commissions.

NASCAR also predicts the city will bring in even more amusment tax revenue from ticket sales, with the second annual stock car race expected to generate $2.1 million.


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