Kenney: There's money in those luxury boxes

Posted: September 19, 2013

Mayor Nutter has a program for giving out tickets to the city's luxury boxes at sports events to deserving schoolchildren, nonprofits, and charities.

He also has a strict policy for how the rest of the tickets can be used, after his predecessor was criticized for using the tickets to the "mayor's box" to reward political allies and campaign donors.

City Councilman James F. Kenney said Tuesday that the luxury boxes could be put to even better use: leased to raise money for school supplies.

With the School District still grappling with a $304 million deficit, Nutter last week announced a drive to raise $500,000 by Oct. 15 to buy books, paper, and other supplies, saying the city would put up $200,000.

In a letter to the mayor, Kenney estimated that the boxes could be leased for $30,000 per Eagles game and $3,000 each for Phillies, Flyers, and 76ers games. Concerts, like this summer's Jay-Z and Justin Timberlake show at Citizens Bank Park, could raise money as well.

Kenney said the haul could be $1 million a year for the school supply fund.

Even though 54 percent of the box's tickets since 2008 have gone to groups like schools and nonprofits, Kenney said the schools' dire straits "must take precedence."

"These luxury boxes are a valuable city asset and belong to the taxpayers," he wrote. "They should be used in a pragmatic way to help us generate much-needed revenue during this current school funding crisis."

Kenney once introduced a bill to force the tickets to be sold to the highest bidder after Mayor John F. Street was criticized for his use of the tickets.

Mark McDonald, spokesman for Nutter, said the administration already "has two really good programs," referring to the ticket giveaway and the school supply fund-raising.

"The mayor believes we can do two things at once," he said.

He also said the administration was "not interested" in ending its ticket-giveaway program.

"That doesn't make any sense whatsoever," Kenney retorted later in the day. "Wouldn't it be better to supply 100 percent of schoolchildren rather than give 54 percent tickets to a baseball game?"


Contact Troy Graham at 215-854-2730 or tgraham@phillynews.com, or follow on Twitter @troyjgraham.

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