The Cincinnati Reds chalked up a win Wednesday in a fight over whether the franchise should pay sales taxes on bobbleheads and other promotional items given to fans who attend home games.
The Ohio Supreme Court ruled 5-2 that the team didn’t have to pay taxes on the trinkets since the Reds demonstrated that the cost of the items were factored into the ticket prices.
“This one belongs to the Reds,” the majority opinion said, quoting the longtime Reds announcer Marty Brennaman.
The case stems from an Ohio tax commissioner audit of the Reds that included team purchases from 2008 to 2010. The commissioner ruled that the team had to pay use taxes on the items, such as bobbleheads, bats, shirts and other merchandise.
The Reds appealed that ruling to the Ohio Board of Tax Appeals and then to the Ohio Supreme Court.
Writing for the majority opinion, Justice Patrick Fischer cautioned that the ruling may not apply to other pro sports teams that sponsor promotional giveaways.
In the 22-page opinion, Fischer provides a short history of baseball in Ohio and its intersection with business and the courts. He also details the transformation of pro baseball into more than just a game and how teams have gone to great lengths to entertain fans with fireworks, expanded dining options, concerts and bobbleheads.