by Lincoln Institute | October 22, 1997

Initiative to Fund Stadium Construction Behind by a Large Margin

Harrisburg (PA) — Voters in eleven southwestern Pennsylvania counties are rejecting by nearly a three-to-one margin a proposal to raise state sales taxes in the region by one half of a percent to help fund construction of new sports stadiums and other regional facilities. The survey, conducted October 15th & 16th by the Harrisburg-based Lincoln Institute of Public Opinion Research found 64% of the voters surveyed planned to vote against the proposed sales tax increase while only 22% planned to vote in support of initiative which will appear on the November 4th General Election ballot.
“Opposition to the proposal is especially strong outside of Allegheny County where 71% of the voters surveyed said they will be voting ‘no’ on election day,” said Lowman S. Henry, Chairman of the Lincoln Institute. “Only 15% of voters in the ten counties outside of Allegheny indicated support for the measure. Allegheny County voters are rejecting the measure by a 57% to 28% margin.”
Henry added the issue cuts across party lines, with 65% of both Democrats and Republicans surveyed saying they oppose the tax. Opposition to the tax increase was particularly strong among those in the 55-64 age demographic with 77% of voters in that category voicing their opposition.

Other key findings:

* Ninety-six percent of those surveyed were aware of the fact that they will be asked to vote on the issue in the upcoming General Election.

* The appointment of a non-elected regional authority to control potential tax revenue collected from the regional sales tax was opposed by 45% of survey respondents. Twenty-eight percent favor such an authority while 27% offered no opinion.

* Very few voters believe the tax, if adopted, will be temporary. A total of 82% of the voters in the eleven-county region expect the tax will be permanent, while 14% believe the tax will be temporary.

* A plurality (43%) of survey respondents say they don’t think the Pirates baseball team will move from Pittsburgh if a new baseball-only stadium is not built. Thirty-one percent think the failure to build a new stadium will result in the Pirates moving to another city, while 26% declined to give an opinion.

* Only 15% of voters surveyed say they think the Steelers football franchise will move to another city if a new stadium is not built to replace Three Rivers Stadium. Sixty-seven percent expect the Steelers to stay in Pittsburgh whether or not a new stadium is built.

* Governor Ridge’s proposal to sell state liquor stores to private enterprise and then use the proceeds to construct new sports stadiums received support from just 37% of the voters surveyed by the Lincoln Institute. A majority of 52% opposed the idea.

“Basically what this issue comes down to is that voters do not think sports stadiums should be financed with public money,” Henry explained. “A total of 79% of those surveyed told the Lincoln Institute that new sports stadiums should be paid for with private dollars. Only 9% support public financing of such facilities.”
On another tax issue which will appear on the November 4th ballot, 43% of the voters in the eleven-county southwestern Pennsylvania region say they will vote to approve the so-called “Homestead Amendment” to the state constitution. The proposed amendment would allow business and residential properties to be taxed at different rates. Twenty-four percent said they oppose approval of the amendment. A significant percentage of voters, 33%, remain undecided on the issue.
The Lincoln Institute of Public Opinion Research, Inc. is a non-profit educational foundation based in Harrisburg, PA. The Lincoln Institute’s survey of voters in the eleven-county southwestern Pennsylvania region was conducted on October 15 and October 16, 1997 by Precision Marketing of Easton. A total of 336 voters were surveyed giving the survey a margin of error of plus or minus three percent.