Much like TSPLOST – the new stadium is more tax for something we don’t need

December 10, 2012 18:23 pm

by Bridget Cantrell · 22 comments

Arthur Blank wrote a letter to the Falcon’s season ticket holders today saying the Georgia World Congress Center Authority (GWCCA) Board approved a term sheet for the proposed new stadium on the GWCC campus.  The entire letter is at the bottom of this post, but in essence, it says that Georgia residents will not be paying any of the $300M to be paid by taxpayers.

The public funding for the remaining one-third of the stadium construction costs will be covered by the existing hotel-motel tax, which is largely paid by visitors, not local residents. So, unless a Georgia resident stays in a hotel in the city of Atlanta or certain other parts of Fulton County, he or she will pay nothing in taxes to build the new stadium.

That’s simply not true.  But what’s over $50M among friends?  $89M and counting…

7:45pm UPDATE: Rich McKay, President of the Falcons, says “With 86% of the people that pay this [hotel-motel] tax out of the State of Georgia..”  Quick math says that only 86% (not all) of $277M being paid from visitors puts another $39M in the Georgia taxpayer column.  Wowsers – and within hours.  And from the President of the Falcons contradicting the Owner of the Falcons.  #awkward.  

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.

Or bumping the project costs from $948M to $1.2B for “needed improvements” around the area?  The budget is a moving target…and it’s only going up.

Reed didn’t specify how the figure grows to $1.2 billion, but his advisors said he was referring to improvements to the area surrounding whatever site is selected.

This is a slippery unaccountable slope.

Also from the letter (to simply point out PR shenanigans):

It will be an iconic asset owned by the state that will provide economic benefits to our city, region and state. During the construction phase alone, the new stadium will add more than 4,500 new jobs to the state’s economy and generate more than $400 million in total economic impact, including more than $160 million in personal income.

Some math: $160M divided by 4,500 new (temporary) jobs divided by length of construction duration (4 years, ~2017) = $8,888.88 per/yr jobs.  We’re not talking permanent salaried positions here; we’re talking temporary construction crews (including traveling crews from surrounding states).  Please calm down on the “JOBS!”

I grew up here; I’ve been to ONE game at the Dome.  Ever.  Putting my personal lack of use/benefit of a new stadium aside, we simply don’t need a new stadium.  Rep. Mike Dudgeon said it best in his post this morning and I think it bears repeating:

The Georgia Dome is not even paid for yet, and had a $300 million renovation only six years ago. Here is a good analogy for throwing away the Dome and building a new stadium now. Imagine a guy who got laid off from his corporate desk job and is now working part time at Target and is struggling with basic expenses. He decides that is the time to trade in his perfectly running 2006 Acura and buy a new 2013 Mercedes.

In summary:

NO.

——————————————————-

Mr. Blank’s Letter:

Earlier today, the Georgia World Congress Center Authority (GWCCA) Board approved a term sheet for the proposed new stadium on the GWCC campus. This is an important step toward reaching a final agreement, which we anticipate will occur in 2013.

A new stadium in Atlanta is important to the Falcons for a number of reasons: It will allow us to provide a league-competitive game day experience to our fans, and it will help the team remain competitive on the field over a long period of time. In addition, it puts into place a long-term solution following the expiration of our lease at the Georgia Dome.

But this new stadium is not just about the Falcons. It will be an iconic asset owned by the state that will provide economic benefits to our city, region and state. During the construction phase alone, the new stadium will add more than 4,500 new jobs to the state’s economy and generate more than $400 million in total economic impact, including more than $160 million in personal income.

In addition, a new stadium allows the city and state to remain competitive with other venues across the country in areas such as attracting new convention business, retaining events currently held in the Georgia Dome, hosting new marquee events in the future, and possibly adding Major League Soccer to Atlanta’s professional sports team mix.

All of these opportunities provide significant positive economic impacts for Georgia. For example, four of the Dome’s largest annual events – the SEC Championship Game, Chick-fil-A Bowl, Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game and Bank of America Football Classic – generate a combined annual economic impact of more than $100 million. And hosting marquee events such as a Super Bowl, World Cup and BCS Football Championship Game would have a combined potential to generate more than $450 million in economic impact.

The proposed financial arrangement for the new stadium is also beneficial to the state. Unlike the Georgia Dome, which was financed 100 percent with public money, the Falcons have agreed to fund about two-thirds of the cost of construction, as well as any cost overruns, with private dollars. In addition, the Falcons will take on the operating and capital risks that the state currently bears at the Georgia Dome. We are willing to do these things to ensure a great game day experience for our fans, and to be part of providing new opportunities to the city and state.

The public funding for the remaining one-third of the stadium construction costs will be covered by the existing hotel-motel tax, which is largely paid by visitors, not local residents. So, unless a Georgia resident stays in a hotel in the city of Atlanta or certain other parts of Fulton County, he or she will pay nothing in taxes to build the new stadium.

We are encouraged by today’s vote, and will continue to work in partnership with the GWCCA to reach a final agreement that is beneficial to all stakeholders, including the neighborhoods surrounding the new stadium. You can stay informed regarding our progress by visiting atlantafalcons.com and clicking on the link to the new stadium site.

We will strive to keep you informed of our progress along the way. Thank you for your support this season, and best wishes for a happy holiday season.

Sincerely,

 

Arthur M. Blank

Owner & Chairman

Atlanta Falcons

Daddy Got A Gun December 10, 2012 at 6:51 pm

We have money for so many things, just not the ones that matter.

NoTeabagging December 10, 2012 at 8:25 pm

If I recall, the Georgia Dome was also touted as necessary so ATL could host Super Bowl(s)….plural.
How many Super Bowls has ATL hosted in the dome???
Two. and is it really, suddenly obsolete?

atlanta_advocate December 10, 2012 at 8:59 pm

And much like T-SPLOST, conservatives are much better at opposing things than proposing them.
Other than drilling for oil (and a lot of good that does this state!), more highways, defense projects that aren’t needed (we have the F-35 but hey let’s keep building those F-22’s anyway!), and preserving the Georgia Power monopoly … does anyone have any actual ideas to move the region and state forward?

So, T-SPLOST was a bad idea. So this stadium is a bad idea. Anybody got any good ones? Because here’s the thing … the last big economic boom for this region and state started in the mid-90s. Going on 20 years ago. That petered out, the momentum faded, and it’s been downhill ever since. Dot.com bust. Transportation bust after 9/11. Real estate bust. Lots of local companies or large regional operations of out of state companies bought out and relocated. And now, the action is elsewhere, in other cities and states that have continued moving and shaking even in this disastrous recession.

Electing pro-business, small government, low tax, low regulation right to work Republicans doesn’t automatically make it all better. It takes ideas and leadership. Things like Hartsfield, the Hope Scholarship, making Georgia Tech into a leading research university, building the current Georgia Dome, and yes even MARTA … that stuff didn’t spontaneously generate, nor did they come without significant spending of public funds that would be impossible in this current political environment even if the economy was better. Nobody wants to propose anything because everyone is terrified of being called a big government advocate or a RINO. So what do we get while other metro areas are competing and growing? HOT lanes! Whoopee!

And the whole “lack of trust” thing. Like the politicians are any more trustworthy in the places that are innovating and growing right now while we “Go Fish.” They aren’t. Instead, the folks in those areas have a more realistic view of the role of government in doing anything to aid economic development other than using pork to lure companies locate here (Kia got $400 million in state and local incentives, about what this stadium will cost, and Caterpillar is going to get $80 million … gee where where where was the Georgia Tea Party then?).

Again, this is a bad idea? Fine. How about some good ones? Anyone want to start an open thread on that?

Bridget December 10, 2012 at 9:16 pm

Alright, meow. Settle down – you’re gonna hurt yourself. The Port of Savannah.

Baker December 11, 2012 at 7:10 am

I think we should’ve passed TSPLOST, and I think we should do whatever we can to try to redirect money from this towards transportation.

bullFrog December 11, 2012 at 9:15 am

Did you just say, “Meow?”

Did she just say, “Meow?”

Rambler14 December 11, 2012 at 7:12 am

We should have built the Northern Arc 15 years ago.
But Sonny killed that and brought us GO FISH!

David Staples December 11, 2012 at 10:46 am

“So, T-SPLOST was a bad idea. So this stadium is a bad idea. Anybody got any good ones?”

Perhaps you should just look at things from a different perspective. Maybe T-SPLOST wasn’t a “bad” idea… perhaps letting people keep and spend their money themselves was a better idea? :-)

As well, you seem rather frustrated that people in this state haven’t allowed the government to just grow and grow and grow. If you want anti-business, large government, high tax, high regulation living… have you considered becoming “sanfrancisco_advocate” or “newyorkcity_advocate” or “dc_advocate”? There’s probably a government subsidized mode of transportation ready when you are. ;-)

Self_Made December 11, 2012 at 2:08 pm

Same old “anti government” cliches. You quoted the question yourself…”anybody got any good ideas? ” What do you come with???

“Move to New York or California.” Sad and tired.

We HAVE small government, low tax, low regulation, pro-business leadership in this state. We’ve had it in power for TEN years. Where are we?

David Staples December 11, 2012 at 3:28 pm

Where are we? Just North of Florida, East of Alabama, West of South Carolina and South of Tennessee and North Carolina… same place we’ve been. ;-)

You may think we have small government, but there are plenty who would disagree. It could certainly be smaller with less spending and lower taxes and regulation. The leadership we have in this state gives lip service to those things but hasn’t exactly been very good at putting it into action.

Your post implies that there’s something wrong with where we’re at. And except for our failing educational system (which I would argue is due not to smaller government, but due to the constant fight between larger government and smaller government types along with the strings attached to the various monies some keep begging to get back from DC) I would argue that we’re doing just fine, thanks. There’s nothing wrong with moving somewhere that has the amenities and features you want instead of trying to transform where you live into something just like somewhere else — especially when it requires the force of government to achieve your desired results. I grew up in Georgia, have had family here for generations, and I’d like for the size of government here to either stay the same size or shrink. If I wanted larger government and higher taxes and more government services, I’d move. But I don’t. Should I be forced to move because the place where I grew up has been hijacked?

It seems to me that the large government types just aren’t happy with letting us small government types have our way anywhere. The large government folks move into the places that have smaller government and then work to change it to be like the place they left. If they liked the place they left so much, why leave in the first place? Is it because your job moved you here? (What, you mean companies like lower taxes too?) Just one example…

http://www.bizjournals.com/atlanta/blog/atlantech/2012/12/tweet-this-twitter-takes-100k-sf-in.html

IndyInjun December 10, 2012 at 10:29 pm

You had better hope that the Falcon’s new stadium has a more definitive term sheet than Augusta got from the LLC headed by publisher William S. Morris IV on its convention center. That puppy was unsigned and undated, giving rise to all manner of misunderstandings, misspending and even mischief by the mayor and administrator in doling out largesse over and beyond the $3 million annual subsidies originally agreed upon.

A $25 million Splost funded project turned into a $100 million claim via general obligation bonds.

A similar hotel tax was to fund operations, but fell 3/4 of a $million a year short, so now general funds have to be spent on expenses. When citizens got to looking they found $millions in probable cost shifts from the Morris-controlled hotels to publicly funded convention center operations to be managed by those Morris-affiliated LLC’s. The Morris newspapers were very silent on these matters but very vocal in denouncing commissioners who balked at the final deals for “losing” conventions.

Maybe Arthur took lessons from Billy. Now if he could only get a more facile press like that in Augusta, Savannah, and Athens.

Don’t let them get away with negotiating anything in private. The costs could be a real surprise. These champions of “Private Enterprise” just love passing their costs on to the public.

debbie0040 December 10, 2012 at 10:40 pm

During the T-SPLOST debate didn’t Mayor Reed talk about how bad MARTA needed money for maintenance and road improvements? Wouldn’t the 300 million dollar hotel/motel tax be be more useful to help with transportation needs in Atlanta so voters are not asked to fork over higher taxes for MARTA/transportation down the road?

What is more important – building a new stadium for a billionaire that can build it himself or transportation improvements?

Baker December 11, 2012 at 7:08 am

It seems like we haven’t heard much from Tea Party groups on this issue, thoughts?

Baker December 11, 2012 at 7:09 am

Debbie goes somewhere, cameras follow.

Rambler14 December 11, 2012 at 7:15 am

What’s the latest on Plan B?
And that court challenge for the 3 regions that passed TSPLOST?

Baker December 11, 2012 at 9:04 am

Ha. +1

Bob Loblaw December 11, 2012 at 2:43 pm

Oh she’ll never file that court challenge. She said she would, but you know.

Bob Loblaw December 11, 2012 at 2:42 pm

Where were you in 2010 when this law was passed? Are you really, after all your arguments during T-SPLOST for local control at the county level, about to tell Fulton County what they can do with their hotel-motel taxes? You’ll whine and moan about local control until your ready to tell another county how to spend their money. More of the same.

Baker December 11, 2012 at 3:09 pm

I disagreed strongly with the Tea Partiers over TSPLOST, but I def think Debbie has a point with her comment. How can Mayor Reed ask for a regional tax for transportation & then burn $300 MILL for a billionaire?

poliscigal December 11, 2012 at 10:11 am

Sign the petition !

If you are opposed to public funding of the new stadium, sign the petition:

http://www.thepetitionsite.com/510/299/990/georgia-dont-squander-taxpayer-dollars-on-new-falcons-stadium/

Baker December 11, 2012 at 12:12 pm

Done. You could also head here:

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Save-Falcons-Habitat-Keep-the-Dome/147025202029129

I posted a link to your petition there.

Nonchalant December 11, 2012 at 8:21 pm

Arthur Blank: My nominee for a 2012 State of Georgia Public Service Award.

Though usually it should be given for serving the public, and not the publc servicing you….

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