Cedar Point helps budget crunch

Admissions tax breaks record thanks to new ride.
Andy Ouriel
Jan 20, 2014


GateKeeper’s   far from the tallest attraction at Cedar Point.

But the new ride surpassed one benchmark, delighting Sandusky officials almost as much as thrill seekers first hopping aboard the record-breaking roller coaster.

City officials collected $2.81 million in admissions tax throughout 2013, the most ever in Sandusky’s history.

The tax, a 3 percent fee tacked onto ticket sales at Sandusky-based entertainment venues, largely depends upon attendance at Cedar Point — the undisputed giant in the region’s entertainment industry.

From 1998 to 2012, only once did a yearly admissions tax top $2.65 million.

But finance workers and others lending their fiscal expertise to Sandusky’s budget predicted GateKeeper’s overwhelming buzz would juice up admissions taxes.    “We’re seeing the positive results of the tourist season right here,” Sandusky finance director Hank Solowiej said. “That’s really good, and it’s going to help us”

Rolling along
Financial data from past years shows Cedar Point’s new roller coasters do indeed benefit everyone, even city taxpayers fearful of such rides.

Since 1998, Sandusky’s admissions tax grew every year Cedar Point unveiled a new roller coaster compared to the year prior, according to a Register analysis of city data obtained through a public records request.

Among the examples, when:

• Millennium Force appeared in 2000, the admissions tax produced a 14 percent gain from 1999, when Camp Snoopy opened.

• Wicked Twister opened in 2002, the admissions tax grew 3 percent versus 2001, the year the now-defunct VertiGo opened.

• Top Thrill Dragster came in 2003, the admissions tax ballooned 5 percent from 2002.

• Maverick debuted in 2007, the admissions tax generated a 6 percent uptick compared to 2006, the opening year for Skyhawk.

• GateKeeper arrived in 2013, the city’s admission tax saw a 9 percent gain from 2012, when Dinosaurs Alive! and Luminosity opened.

“Every time Cedar Point debuts a roller coaster, there’s a bump in the admissions tax,” said Allen Nickles, Sandusky finance committee chairman.

Next year, Cedar Fair executives plan to introduce two new family-friendly roller coasters along with refurbishing Jr. Gemini.

Sandusky officials want a similar gain in admissions tax with these new and improved rides.

“Our budget goes as Cedar Fair goes,” Nickles said. “I hope the admissions tax is higher next year”

Other taxes
The city’s other two main income sources also produced robust results this past year:

• Income taxes totaled $6.72 million in 2013, a 3 percent increase from 2012.

A 1 percent income tax is tacked onto people working within city boundaries. It’s the largest income source for Sandusky’s annual budget.

• Lodging taxes equaled $1.18 million in 2013, an 11 percent increase from 2012.

City officials place a 3 percent tax on people staying at area hotels and motels.



Increase the lodge tax. People aren't going to not stay here because that went up. Oh and the CP parking tax. Bring that back. Their money should be used to maintain the city and it's services they use and abuse


These are good ideas, but the City can also increase the admissions tax up to 8% under Ohio law. Since Amusement parks do not pay sales tax on admissions, it seems only fair that the admissions tax be at least as high as the sales tax. Even just doubling the tax to 6% (still lower than the sales tax) would result in an extra $2,810,000 a year based on 2013 stats.

Make the people who use the City's resources, (streets, police, fire, pay for the increased services. People are not going to stop attending Cedar Point because of a 3%-5% increase on the Ticket price due to the Admissions tax.


The more the merrier Babo. This is a tourism time. Be able to survive the off season with the in season monies. That's not happening right now


Agree, but the Commission is stacked with people who depend on Cedar Point and other tourism corporate interests dollars.


It's not going to to hurt CP any. They don't have a problem jacking their parking costs up every year. They're getting theirs


I know but they will howl like crazy because of the perception by the public of an increase in their ticket price that isn't benefitting them.


What record did it break its the same ride as geauga lake had until stupid cedar fair shut it down


Hurray. Now we don't have to raise the income tax and Commish Farrar will "get her city back".


I hope Sandusky keeps feeding the pig, and I don't mean that as a put-down. Cedar Point is the bet amusement park in the world, and we have it here!
We have been season ticker holders for 20 years. My family went there every year when I was a child, and I will be taking our first grandchild there (due date is July, so I am sure we can stroller the baby around the park before the 2014 season is over!!)
I think it is easy for locals to overlook this top quality perfectly rated diamond that is sitting in our backyard. I LOVE CEDAR POINT!!!!!!

60 year old fan of roller coasters & Hallow Weekends!!!!1


Why O why does Ceder Point or some other Investor's put a IX center here that open all year long??? Have a Indoor Amusement Park Like Cleveland has. There N O T H I N G TO DO IN THE WINTER MONTHS HERE..INLESS YOU LIKE BAR'S,BOWLING,BAR'S AND MORE BAR'S. THEY WOULD COME FROM MILE'S TO SOMETHING LIKE THAT!!!!!!!!