Liberals downplay reports that Ottawa Senators could die if tax break revoked

The Canadian Press

TORONTO - Ontario's governing Liberals are downplaying reports that the Ottawa Senators could go out of business if the province closes what they're calling a tax loophole.

The cash-strapped government wants to scrap a tax exemption allowing businesses to write off up to 50 per cent of all tickets and luxury suites for sporting events.

But the Senators hockey organization says it can't survive without the tax credit because it operates in a smaller market than other teams, like the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Cabinet minister Bob Chiarelli says the proposal to scrap the tax exemption isn't a done deal — it's just something the province is discussing with the federal government.

But the former Ottawa mayor says both governments have been very supportive to the Senators over the years and have helped them out on a number of issues.

He says many professional sports teams have also benefited from a high loonie, because they pay their players in U.S. dollars.

"That's a huge bonus financially to the team," Chiarelli said.

The tax writeoff also applies to other live performances like theatre and concerts and costs the province about $15 million a year.

Entertainment costs at nightclubs, social clubs and sporting clubs are also deductible.