Chesney pays fee for 2013 concert
Kenny Chesney paid up.
Pittsburgh officials said the country music entertainer made good on a payment he owed from 2013 based on the “nonresident sports facility usage fee,” a 3 percent levy on all entertainers and athletes who perform at Heinz Field and other publicly funded venues such as PNC Park and Consol Energy Center.
Pittsburgh City Council on Wednesday introduced legislation that would close the loophole that permitted Chesney to pay $132 in 2013 for his performance at Heinz Field. Taylor Swift, by comparison, paid $70,410 for her performance the same year in the same venue.
“We chased (Chesney) on that, and we got that settled,” Pittsburgh Finance Director Paul Leger said. “His managers paid the whole thing. It took like a whole year to get that resolved.”
Leger declined to reveal the amount Chesney paid, saying he needed approval of the city Law Department. Chesney’s representatives could not be reached for comment.
Pittsburgh since 2005 has collected the fee — expected to bring in $5.1 million in 2016 — from out-of-town professional athletes and entertainers, including musicians and stage actors. Those with permanent homes in the city are exempt. City auditors reported last year that professional athletes paid the fee in full, but some entertainers did not.
Controller’s Office auditors, who reviewed revenue generated by performances at PNC Park, Heinz Field and Consol Energy Center from 2010 through 2013, found that about 25 percent of the entertainers appearing there during those years stiffed the city on what likely amounted to thousands of dollars.
Officials could not determine exactly how much was owed because they could not accurately track salaries.
Lamb said performers were diverting earnings to touring companies, trust funds and holding accounts to hide their true earnings.
“We did the audit and showed there was a great disparity in how much people were paying, and made recommendations that council needed to close the loophole,” Lamb said.
The legislation sponsored by Councilwoman Natalia Rudiak of Carrick is designed to do that.
Leger said anyone booking a performance — including the Steelers, Pirates and Penguins, which manage the three stadiums — must provide the city with a copy of the contract. The three teams have management rights under an agreement with the city-county Pittsburgh Sports & Exhibition Authority, which owns the venues.
The teams did not respond to requests seeking comment.
“We’ll know how much facility usage fee we can exact,” Leger said. “If it shows it is going into a trust fund, we will challenge that.”
Under the legislation, violators can be banned from performing in the venue. They are also subject to fines ranging from a maximum $1,000 to $2,500 and jail sentences ranging from a maximum 50 days to 6 months.
The bill could receive a preliminary vote Wednesday.
“I think what this does is present a pretty strong incentive to pay up,” Rudiak said.
Bob Bauder is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-765-2312.