Let’s Be Consistent On The Cost Of The Stadium

December 6, 2012 14:00 pm

by Charlie · 20 comments

PeachPundit had originally scheduled a point/counterpoint on the stadium debate today.  We’re now re-scheduling that for Monday.  For those of you needing a stadium debate fix, perhaps we can just use the following to help us first nail down how much this will really be costing taxpayers.

The AJC has an article online today discussing how attorneys specializing in leases with sports franchises have been retained to negotiate the lease for a proposed replacement for the Georgia Dome. It’s an interesting and worthwhile read.

This line, however, needs clarification and extension:

About $300 million of the funding would be raised through hotel-motel tax collections in Atlanta and unincorporated Fulton County. The Falcons would be responsible for the rest.

“The rest” ignores additional expenses the taxpayers will be picking up.  Expenses that the AJC is well aware of, and has previously reported.  For instance:

The Barrett analysis submitted last month cited $331.5 million in public funding — $277.3 million from hotel-motel tax net bond proceeds, $24.2 million from the state for land and $30 million from a construction sales tax rebate. The analysis assumed a $700.5 million contribution from the Falcons and the NFL.

And then, on top of those gifts, the City of Atlanta is poised to step in with an unspecified amount for infrastructure improvements and upgrades around the area.  How much?  It’s unclear, but the city says they have $53 Million in cash available in tax improvement district funds and is preparing to borrow $250 Million more.  This, as well, is AJC reporting:

Needed improvements around the site of a new Atlanta Falcons stadium could push the total project cost to $1.2 billion, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed said Monday.

Reed did not say the cost of the stadium itself would rise above an architect’s estimate of $948 million — money to be raised by the state and the Falcons. But Reed said a variety of upgrades to sidewalks, roads and other amenities could boost the project price to the larger total.

So how much are taxpayers, from various sources really going to end up paying to replace our existing, fully functional stadium?  At this point it remains unclear, but it appears to be well north of $300 Million.

Somewhere between $275 Million and $300 Million from hotel motel taxes.  $25 Million  or more direct from the state for land.  Waiver of sales taxes estimated at $30 Million.  And up to another $250 Million from the City of Atlanta for unspecified infrastructure improvements that closes the gap between the $950 Million stated budget for the stadium and the $1.2 Billion expected final price.

I’ll note that myself, Stefan, and Mike will be visiting with the GWCC the week after next.  If we’re finally going to have a public debate about this stadium then I’m more than prepared to seek out the facts from all parties.  Part of these facts need to be total costs. And by all accounts, taxpayers will be on the hook for significantly more than $300 Million for this project.  This number needs to be clear, and needs to be consistantly reported as such.

The Last Democrat in Georgia December 6, 2012 at 4:24 pm

“This number needs to be clear, and needs to be consistantly reported as such.”

Why does the number need to clear and consistent?

I don’t want to be kept in the know of what’s REALLY going on with how politicians are spending our money.

I wanna be kept in the dark, misled, manipulated and just outright lied to when its comes to what politicians are doing with the taxpayers’ money.

ESPECIALLY when it comes to ridiculously large sums of public money being spent to help those of us in the community who are already extremely well-off become even more extremely well-off while other pressing needs continue to be totally ignored or just outright neglected.

LIE TO ME!!!….And make sure the lies damn good!

The Last Democrat in Georgia December 6, 2012 at 4:29 pm

Sorry, I meant to say “And make sure the lies ARE damn good!”

I tend to sometimes jump the gun and get overly excited when I know that I’m about to be LIED TO by my public officials.

Oh yeah!…Those lies sound so good, they’re like music to my ears.

Charlie December 6, 2012 at 4:49 pm

I’m going to very strongly make a suggestion, and I’m going to very strongly encourage you to consider it. Very strongly.

You continue to offer nothing but negativity and volume. Your comments are not constructive. It may make you feel better to vent here, but you bring nothing new to the discussion.

I’m suggesting you take a break from commenting here voluntarily for a while. Right now, that can be your choice.

The next time we have to have this talk, it will not be your choice.

The Last Democrat in Georgia December 6, 2012 at 5:21 pm

Charlie, I may have stated it in a rather sarcastic and somewhat caustic tone, but I was actually agreeing with what you said about the need for our public officials to open and consistent with what they’re doing with taxpayer dollars.

I’m sorry that you took what I said in a different way from how it was intended.

Charlie December 6, 2012 at 9:06 pm

If you think this is in any way about agreeing or disagreeing with me, you still don’t get it and likely never will.

saltycracker December 6, 2012 at 4:42 pm

Will the high speed train from Savannah be stopping there ?

Charlie December 6, 2012 at 4:46 pm

Actually, yes.

The multi-modal terminal is set to be dropped in ‘the gulch’, which is the mess of railroad tracks behind the State Bar of Georgia and the old AJC building on Marietta. It is, in effect, the vacant land bridge between Underground/Five Points and Phillips/CNN/GWCC/Dome.

Not sure if either the stadium or the train will ever happen. But we’ll likely have a train station there regardless.

Baker December 6, 2012 at 4:48 pm

Prognosis Negative!

Baker December 6, 2012 at 4:51 pm

How spectacular would it be if they actually redid the old AJC building and the old rail offices by the Fed courthouse? Wow. SO exciting……….

……but they won’t. Those buildings will continue to rot. But hey, we’ll have a brand spanking new stadium….until the NFL says we need a new one.

Dave Bearse December 9, 2012 at 5:05 pm

That area of the Gulch won’t work for intercity rail because it doesn’t accomodate through traffic. The original concept was that I-85 N corridor trains would use the NE quadrant of the beltline to the Gulch Terminal, then could continue through in any direction—north to Chattanooga or Birmingham, or south to Macon, and vice versa. NE quadrant beltline use and plans preclude HSR.

The area you refer to would be ideal for any sort of commuter service because commuter service would terminate there, and not run through. The terminal for original Macon (then the scaled back Griffin) and Athens commuter services would have been located between the former Atlanta Constitution building and Wall St (parallel to and one block south of Marietta St). Rail commuters the terminal would have had a convneient sheltered same level 300 foot long passageway from commuter rail platforms under Forsyth St into the Five Points station.

Mutlimodalism as applied to that area of the Gulch now means increasing commuter bus operations and providing a glorified taxi-stand.

An intercity rail passenger terminal now has to be located between Phillips Arena and the Dome to serve any through traffic. It’s an inferior location because it can only efficiently serve through routes to Macon, i.e. no Charlotte-Birmingham traffic, and it’s a three plus block walk from Five Points station. (Or for most users that would use transit, go donw a level to MARTA, wait on a eastbound train, go one station, go down another level, and wait on a N-S line train, so convenient and user friendly it’s have folks raving.)

The die was cast when a GOP led by do-nothing Perdue did nothing, and the beltline was expropriated for other use.

The former NS property just south of the Gulch (or part of if, depending on your definition of the Gulch) would serve well as a daytime commuter rail layover facility. You should expect the powers that be let that option slip away too. Indeed, state leadership is looking to dispose of the Atlantic Station property purchased for a rail station even though it would serve Athens commuter rail and serve intercity rail as well as a station between Phillips and the Dome, when through service is considered.

BTW Baker, the Constitution building is a wreck that wasn’t worth saving a half dozen years ago. In another couple of years Atlanta will be able to contract with a pulpwood company to remove the trees growing on the roof (see ‘em for yourself on Goggle Earth), after dropping seven figures dealing with asbestos, that is.

Baker December 9, 2012 at 6:08 pm

Oh I’ve seen the trees. I know it’s pretty much beyond saving, parts of $300 MILL would do it though. We have so few historic buildings, I can dream.

Dave Bearse December 9, 2012 at 9:44 pm

It certainly is landmark architecture. It would be more cost effective to build a replica facade.

The $300M brings up an interesting point though, perhaps the new Dome will include funding to improve walkability between it and Five Points. There’s currently no good way across the Gulch, and the bridges behind the former NS building are all wrecks.

The Last Democrat in Georgia December 9, 2012 at 8:56 pm

Building a transit station on the tracks in the area between Philips Arena and the Georgia Dome to serve through intercity and commuter trains is an excellent idea.

Especially as one can make the argument that all commuter trains originating from points south (from along the I-85 South and I-75 South/Macon corridors) should run through Downtown and terminate at one of the major regional business and jobs centers on the near-Northside (preferably Buckhead, Dunwoody and/or Cumberland Mall).

Rather than terminating those south-originating lines Downtown, it’s much a better idea to run them them through Downtown to provide more direct rail-anchored transit connectivity between Middle Georgia, South Metro Atlanta and where the jobs increasingly are in North Metro Atlanta above I-20 (Midtown, Buckhead, Perimeter, Cumberland, North Fulton, etc).

One can also probably make an even better argument that all commuter trains originating from above I-20 (from the I-20 West, I-75 North, GA 400, I-85 North, GA 316/Athens, I-20 East corridors) should run through Downtown to provide direct rail-anchored transit connectivity between the heavily-populated northside and the region’s #1 economic and logistical asset at the Atlanta Airport.

Dave Bearse December 9, 2012 at 10:27 pm

An excellent MARTA connection is imperative because it’s likely cost prohibitive realtive to ridership to build commuter rail to the airport. Macon Line commuter service plans included an East Point station mainly for airport and MARTA access, the former eliminating commuters traveling downtown via commuter rail then returning south on MARTA to say Ft McPherson. (The Grant Pkwy [Aviation Blvd] station would have provide similar connectivity to the Int’l terminal—similar in that a connection between the station and airport would be required.

I think a commuter station between the Dome and Phillips being the central station serving downtown and midtown wouldn’t work. It’s a stadium / convention center area, not a dense center of employment that is the bread and butter of any commuter service. My rule of thumb is that 20% of the ridership is lost with each transfer, which knocks out over a third of would-be Midtown users and about a quarter of downtown would-be users.

Run through has merit. The first arriving am northbound Macon Line train continuing through to Athens would be used by both southsiders and ITP counter-peak flow commuters. The bottom line is that Buckhead or Cumberland simply lack the walkable employment density to anchor commuter rail, and Dunwoody is miles away from the existing rail network.

The Last Democrat in Georgia December 10, 2012 at 2:31 am

The N-S and E-W heavy rail lines of what is currently MARTA should become a central part of the future regional commuter rail network because how those lines serve key Intown locations (Airport, along the city’s most notable street, Peachtree through Downtown, Midtown, Buckhead, Perimeter, Decatur, etc) along the N-S and E-W spines of the city.

The current N-S MARTA heavy rail lines should serve the Airport along with the rest of the spoke lines in the future regional commuter rail network because the World’s Busiest Airport can never have too many transit connections.

That’s especially if a future commuter rail network in the Atlanta Metro/North Georgia region is modeled after the BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) system in Northern California where the BART heavy rail network is utilized as a regional commuter rail service rather than just for local intracity transit service like MARTA is currently utilized.

By routing commuter trains through Downtown to terminate at the Airport (for trains originating south of I-20) and on the Northside (for commuter trains originating north of I-20) instead of Downtown, we wouldn’t necessarily eliminate the need to transfer between connecting trains.

But we would dramatically reduce the need to transfer between connecting trains going in roughly the same direction.

We would also dramatically decrease the headways between connecting trains from the current 15-20 minutes down to potentially as little as 2 minutes in the most densely-populated sections of the metro region and the urban core while also providing more direct connectivity between outlying parts of the region of varying importance and its most critically-important economic and logistical asset in the Atlanta Airport.

Also, the cost of extending regional commuter trains through Downtown to terminate at the Airport and on the Northside along with the costs of much-needed overall dramatic upgrades and vast expansion of our currently severely-limited passenger rail network should not be a concern.

If, instead of futilely attempting to wringout severely-limited transportation funding from the diminishing returns of sales tax revenues, transit upgrades and expansion are funded properly through user fees, private investment and Tax Increment Financing (property tax revenue from new development along transit lines), the money will be there.

I also agree that, in many if not most though not necessarily all instances, Buckhead and Cumberland lack the walkable density of existing development to anchor commuter rail service.

Though we should all keep in mind that last-mile connectivity between transit stations and individual destinations and origins would not necessarily be exclusively by foot, but also through public and private shuttle buses, shuttle vans and taxicabs that circulate through the immediate area.

We should also keep in mind that denser transit-oriented development (both residential and commercial) will flock to, sprout up and blossom around rail-anchored multimodal stations as popularity, ridership and demand increases for an overhauled and more comprehensive rail-anchored transit service.

FritzK3 December 6, 2012 at 10:10 pm

Let me get this straight the Falcon’s who have never won a Super Bowl and have only been in the dome for 20 years want the city, state and travelers to the city pay the brunt of the cost for a new one! Atlanta has one of the worst school systems in the country and they are going to spend $800MM on a entertainment facility for the uber rich!!! Has anyone heard of priorities! OBVIOUSLY NOT IN ATLANTA OR ANY OTHER NFL CITY!!!!

peachstealth December 6, 2012 at 10:26 pm

Gee all we need down in Statesboro is a few lousy million for 6 to 10 thousand additional seats in Paulson Stadium. GATA Eagles.

Jackster December 6, 2012 at 11:52 pm

With the leasing fees to buy tickets, and the new ticket prices that will no doubt come with a new stadium, would the cost for these tickets finally be too high to be given to legislators?

I’m pretty sure they would be so far over the gift limit that they would need to exempt these tickets from reporting when they vote to increase the bond limit for GWCC.

IndyInjun December 7, 2012 at 11:26 am

Atlanta should be forewarned about this project from what Augusta just went through with its $20 million Splost and Hotel tax-funded trade center that turned into a $100 million debacle that came to funded on both construction and operation sides with general obligation bonds and general fund revenues. People there will be paying in perpetuity to a mysterious private partner on the basis of unsigned, undated documents, $tens of millions of structures built on land the city turned out not to own, expenditures outside of the terms of the partnership agreement, and hastily cobbled emergency votes of the Augusta commission over 6 weeks until enough arms were twisted to get passage on the management agreements by one vote.

You won’t read one word of this in the media because Morris Communications, publishers of the Augusta Chronicle, Athens Banner-Herald, and Savannah Morning News have common ownership with Augusta’s mystery partner in the project. Morris went months refusing to even acknowledge the story, only reluctantly admitting that there were ties after the commission dug in.

A lot of the questionable attributes of Blank’s stadium project are very prominent in Augusta’s Convention center. If the people don’t insist on openness up front, they are going to pay dearly. You can count on that. When Georgia’s connected and favored oligarchs play, they like to use public money, especially after the 2008 financial debacle.

They are not bashful about trying to get as much largesse as possible approved by government henchmen, either.

chamblee54 December 10, 2012 at 5:56 am

I hereby name this new venue the Blank Bowl. It can be changed to Blank Check, or Blankety Blank at a later date.
http://chamblee54.wordpress.com/2012/12/09/the-blank-bowl/

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