Stadium About Choices And Priorities

January 22, 2013 11:00 am

by Charlie · 49 comments

Today’s Courier Herald Column:

Hopefully this will be my last column about the proposed new stadium in downtown Atlanta, scheduled to replace the Georgia Dome in 2017.  Late last week, the Governor reportedly called Falcons team owner Arthur Blank and team president Rich McKay in for a talk.

According to Lori Geary of WSB TV, the message sent was there is no appetite for a vote to raise the Georgia World Congress Center’s borrowing authority above $200 Million.  The Falcons apparently have some time to think whether or not they can live with a deal that provides them $100 Million less in public financing.  The Governor’s public statement after the meeting says he still supports the $300 Million package as is currently in the negotiated terms sheet but according to the station it is Blank that “must do the heavy lifting”.

Reducing the contribution from the World Congress Center would avoid a legislative fight, as both the hotel motel tax and the ability of the GWCC to borrow up to $200 Million are already established law.  So why continue discussing a stadium that mostly affects a relatively small portion of Georgians and whose tax proceeds are drawn mostly from out of towners?  It’s a matter of choices, priorities, and how Atlanta works with the region and the state in the future.

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed spent the weekend in Washington for the President’s inaugural.  On Saturday, he sat with CNN for a bit and discussed the priorities of big city mayors and what they can expect from President Obama’s second term.  The one need he chose to highlight was infrastructure, and the need for funds to build and rebuild.

Infrastructure.  The kind of investment that tends to pay long term dividends for livability and growth if spent properly.  Or, the kind of projects that allow large sums of money to be squandered by leveraging tomorrow’s tax dollars into bonds that can be spent today for projects whether they are needed or a trophy to someone else’s agenda.

The region that can call itself “Atlanta” is roughly ten times the size of the city with the same name, with competing views on the needs of infrastructure and the desire and ability to pay for it.  Regardless, most in the region understand that traffic is a main concern, and two decades of neglect have allowed an overly congested system to become broken.  Fixing it will be not be easy nor cheap.

The City of Atlanta sees part of the solution as a Beltline to support infill development, and allow people to live closer to where they work and shop.  The inner part of the region already has MARTA but understands that this system too is in need of an overhaul to meet the mission for which it is charged.

The farther out from the city’s core the needs of the residents change, as does their political affiliation.  Residents in the exurbs of the region are loathe to support anything that smells of transit, and frankly, want to cooperate with the city as little as possible.

And therein lies the problem.  With half of Georgia’s population centered in one large region, it is difficult to say that the traffic needs of an area aren’t a state issue, including transit.  When a large number of the regions’ residents (and a larger number of the state’s Republicans) side with those outside the region to block transit funding, the problem persists.

The Mayor himself, in pushing for last summer’s T-SPLOST, continuously cited the city’s convention business as why the Beltline and MARTA extension were critical infrastructure investments.  The hotel motel tax comes directly off the top of this industry’s revenue stream.

Yet when the tough choices about spending limited resources must be made, the mayor’s direct quote is “I will not be the Atlanta mayor that loses the Falcons.”

Supporters of the new stadium say this is a false choice, and that suburbanites won’t support these transit projects anyway.  This is a weak answer that pretends there is not a strong relationship between this mayor and this Governor, who continues to back this project even if he won’t provide the capital needed to sell it.

The money currently directed to the Georgia Dome and the money that the city is preparing for infrastructure improvements around the new Stadium would be more than enough to build the Beltline when combined with Federal matching funds.  If the city were to show leadership in making that tough choice, it would be much easier for the Mayor to go to the Governor and ask for funding for commuter rail and possibly state involvement for MARTA to make it a true regional system.

That would be leadership.  But that would require different choices.  And priorities.

Three Jack January 22, 2013 at 11:29 am

If the choice is between a new stadium with area renovations or the Beltline/MARTA, put me in the stadium category.

Ed January 22, 2013 at 11:50 am

Weren’t you switching to twice-weekly columns?

Bob Loblaw January 22, 2013 at 11:57 am

This is great. I hope next time you wish to write a column using “local control” as the basis for your argument that you’ll re-read this column, first.

Charlie January 22, 2013 at 12:04 pm

Bob, you lose local control when you exceed local boundaries. You know very well that the problem of pushing a transportation focused agenda requires that Atlanta, and also Fulton/DeKalb, requires participation from outside existing localities and having new ones accept some form of transit. You also know that the resistance will use any excuse to point at Atlanta and/or the MARTA counties and say they’re not being good stewards of what they already have, right or wrong.

If Atlanta wants to have the high moral ground when they ask these other communities and/or the state to become part of the transit solution, it’s not going to play well with every opposed suburbanite pointing to the tearing down of a perfectly good and functional stadium that has at least 15-20 years life on it as an example of how they prioritize infrastructure.

I’m one of the few Republicans out there willing to champion the expansion of MARTA and to push for transit solutions. It becomes much harder to do when ‘wants’ are taken care of before ‘needs’.

And the next time you need something posted for one of your clients, I’m going to start referring you back to the always combative and borderline personal tone of your comments here.

Bob Loblaw January 22, 2013 at 1:49 pm

I don’t have a client in this matter. Speaking of this “matter,” it seems that this column muddies the waters as you weave transportation policy into a decision about whether or not a new stadium should be built. Hence the point of my local control argument. You sit up in Cobb and point down to Atlanta-Fulton and begin decrying how they use their own hotel-motel tax funds.

In theory, your “exceed(ing) local boundaries” comments makes sense only to the extent that the State’s bonding authority is going to serve as the vehicle for Atlanta & Fulton County’s decision to utilize its sales-tax on hotels to service the debt on 30% of the cost of the Stadium via GWCC bonds. The building that you seem to believe has a good 15-20 years worth of value to an NFL franchise is owned by Georgia, not Atlanta or Fulton. So your position that folks outside Fulton are going to be even more less likely to work with them on transportation funding and policy than displayed during the T-SPLOST’s campaign because the State of Georgia allows for the construction of a new stadium is convoluted at best. Georgia is at-bat, not Fulton & Atlanta, here.

Atlanta and Fulton County won’t gain “high moral ground” with suburban counties on issues of transportation. They just won’t. The MARTA Act is 40 years old almost and Clayton, Cobb and Gwinnett have always been eligible to join. They won’t. Why? Just look at Buzz’s pre-session survey: his constituents put it down near the bottom of priorities.

Atlanta wouldn’t have hosted the Olympics with an attitude displaying that it must cow-tow to suburban counties to build up some kind of credibility for leverage on other issues of regional importance. We won’t have a world-class facility that can keep Georgia moving forward if its economic engine, Atlanta, spends 15-20 years trying to earn a sense of credibility amongst suburbanites who if they really liked Atlanta, would already live there. There’s a reason some folks choose to sit in cars for 10 hours a week.

I will say that the Falcons themselves aren’t working this issue hard enough. The pols downtown are right. They need to get their supporters to get to their legislators via the grassroots. Sometimes the star power is a deterrent.

atlanta_advocate January 22, 2013 at 1:57 pm

“We won’t have a world-class facility that can keep Georgia moving forward if its economic engine, Atlanta, spends 15-20 years trying to earn a sense of credibility amongst suburbanites who if they really liked Atlanta, would already live there. There’s a reason some folks choose to sit in cars for 10 hours a week.”

Bravo. Recd and dittoed.

northside101 January 22, 2013 at 12:10 pm

Being a capitalist (of which we should be proud), Mr. Blanks obviously is a successful businessman. However, performance of the Falsons over its 47 seasons, if I am correct, includes 100 more losses than wins cumulatively, no back-to-back winning seasons til a few years ago, only 1 Super Bowl appearance and ZERO Super Bowl wins (0 for 47). So lets make a deal, when the Falcons WIN a Super Bowl (just one) or the cumulative number of wins exceeds that of losses, THEN we will give serious consideration to a new stadium. The reward of a stadium should in large part be based on performance, just as you would judge success of a CEO by his company’s profits.

griftdrift January 22, 2013 at 12:35 pm

Okay Charlie. You’re going to have to explain this to me like I’m a three year old.

The $200 million that is the current debt limit on the GWCC/Dome is serviced by the hotel tax in Atlanta. They are asking to raise that cap to $300 million so the new stadium can be built. Understand all that.

But you are implying that if Atlanta can just “re-prioritize” and spend the money better.

How does that work? The state is not going to service the debt on properties it owns and just say, Arlanta here’s a big bag of cash for you to work on your non-Stadium infrastructure?

Charlie January 22, 2013 at 12:40 pm

I’m saying that everything is political. If the request was “instead of spending this portion of the hotel motel tax on retiring debt service for a stadium, we would like to invest this money in building out the beltline which we have determined to be a critical infrastructure/quality of life/economic development need”.

Either option requires the use of the legislature. Getting the legislature on board with expanding transit via commuter rail or a reconstituted MARTA will be an even tougher ask, but by all accounts one or both is coming. Using this pot of money to take care of the most “local” part of that infrastructure need (beltline) would put the City in a much better standing for the bigger ask when it comes, and would help folks like me who are prepared to support that ask have much better ground to help sell that concept to my suburban neighbors when it happens.

griftdrift January 22, 2013 at 12:54 pm

So in essence it is asking the state to take money they currently use to service their own properties and dedicate it to the City of Atlanta for their projects.

Put aside the first part of that statement and just got with taking any tax funds and dedicate to the City of Atlanta.

Something they have never done.

That’s a lot of jelly beans.

benevolus January 22, 2013 at 1:02 pm

I had assumed that the state would get paid back for it’s investment, is that not the case? The state is making money on the current dome, in fact that money subsidizes Olympic Park and the GWCC. Are we not asking to get paid back this time? Arthur Blank is putting up money and I am sure he expects to get paid back, but the state is putting up money… with no payback? Why?

Mike Hassinger January 22, 2013 at 1:12 pm

The State is not “putting up money” they are allowing the GWCC Authority to borrow money.

SallyForth January 22, 2013 at 1:20 pm

AKA, the State borrowing money via the GWCC State Authority. Using our state bond rating and tax revenue as guarantee for the bond market and Wall Street, the actual physical bonds will have State of Georgia on them and be signed by our State Auditor. For anyone who has never been to an actual bond issue process and ceremony, it’s pretty cool.

IndyInjun January 22, 2013 at 4:33 pm

Especially for the bond attorneys!

benevolus January 22, 2013 at 1:22 pm

What are they going to do with it after the borrow it?

SallyForth January 22, 2013 at 1:24 pm

Spend it, baby!

atlanta_advocate January 22, 2013 at 1:56 pm

Charlie, I still like you even if Creative Loafing tabbed you as their favorite RINO, but I think that there are two things that you aren’t considering.

1. The legislature – and the voters that they represent – oppose MARTA and the Beltline more than they do the stadium. You support MARTA and the Beltline and think that they are vital to the success of the region and the state. The suburbs and the legislators that represent them are convinced that the region and the state succeeds despite MARTA, the city of Atlanta and anything having to do with either, and that the way to continue that success is to deal with those entities as little as possible. The different choices and priorities that the suburbanites and their legislators want to see is dismantling/privatizing MARTA, privatizing or handing over Hartsfield to state control, making huge cuts to the city’s workforce (except the police and fire departments) ending their ambitions of being a growing, dynamic city in favor of more mundane things like fixing potholes and sewers, establishing more charter schools and perhaps combining with Fulton to form a single government (after Milton County and Buckhead leave the city and county first of course). I am sorry, but if the legislature and the people who elect them will support Atlanta doing any more than that – and quite frankly many of them would support Atlanta doing even less – then provide evidence for it, because I don’t see it. Really, there is nothing that the mayor can do that would earn the trust and backing of a legislature that is ideologically opposed in the first place. If these guys thought that putting a billion dollars of taxpayer money into MARTA and the Beltline was a bad idea yesterday (they did), and if they think that it is a bad idea today (they do) then Reed forgoing the stadium isn’t enough to make them think that it is a good idea tomorrow. “The Mayor himself, in pushing for last summer’s T-SPLOST, continuously cited the city’s convention business as why the Beltline and MARTA extension were critical infrastructure investments.” I am sorry, but the suburban-dominated legislature disagrees, or at least the people that they elect them do. Go commission Matt Towery to do a poll of Cobb, Gwinnett, Cherokee, Hall, Rockdale etc. and see how many voters there actually believe that MARTA, the Beltline and the city’s convention business is vital to anything but providing work for people that they view to be unqualified and lining the pockets of people that they would never vote for.

2. Arthur Blank’s reaction if this bill doesn’t go through. What if he responds by becoming yet another NFL owner who chooses to leave the downtown of the city that bears the name of its franchise? As the AJC hinted last week ( http://www.ajc.com/news/news/falcons-face-pressure-to-ask-for-less-public-funds/nT2QX/ ) the $700 million that Blank wants to dedicate to this project is more than enough to build a stadium in Cobb, Gwinnett, Rockdale or someplace. The $1 billion pricetag is for a multi-purpose stadium that seats 75,000. But $700 million would certainly get him a 62,000 seat stadium, which is really all he needs. So, if Blank builds his own stadium in Rockdale, then gee that would make investing billions MARTA and the Beltline, both of which have the philosophy of making downtown the center of convention and tourist activity, kind of a lower priority, right? Instead, supporting the suburban stadium will become a priority, and one that the folks who send those GOP legislators to the gold dome will find much more preferable to having anything to do with heavily Democratic Atlanta. And instead of using the $200 million, $300 million or whatever on the Beltline, it will be used for upkeep on a “perfectly fine” Georgia Dome that will remain perfectly fine … because it will be pretty much vacant. No Falcons, no World Cup, no soccer franchise, and even keeping the existing SECCG, the Final Fours, the Chik-Fil-A Bowl and large conventions in that aging facility in that part of town where there is a shiny, modern state of the art new stadium in the tony suburbs will be mighty tough. And why is that the state’s problem? Because, er, technically the state runs the Georgia Dome. If Blank and the Falcons split for the ‘burbs, they’ll be stuck with one huge piece of declining real estate.

Now Deal and the legislature do have to play their politics, but Blank is a business man. He can’t be expected to spend $800 million or $1 billion on this deal when he can spend $700 million and have a stadium all to himself a few minutes up the road Nor should he be expected to wait until 2014 when Deal is safely re-elected. And he especially shouldn’t be expected to wait until the region’s voters finally decide that the Georgia Dome should be replaced, which could take 10 years for all we know. Deal’s problems, the Republican Party’s problems, are not Blank’s. If the Beltline to boost Atlanta’s convention business never gets built because the conventions will be split between downtown and wherever Blank puts his new stadium … ultimately not his concern either. Stuff like that should be the concern of the mayor, legislature and governor and they need to tend to it.

Charlie January 22, 2013 at 2:12 pm

I’m very explicitly considering both:

1) Getting the region/state on board with the very real needs of transportation/transit isn’t going to be easy. Instead of offering leadership, our leaders seem to be saying “well, we have this pot of money, and it’s needed for something that will be difficult, but let’s just settle for something we can do but isn’t needed rather than to bring our constituencies together for a greater need and goal”.

2) So what if Arthur Blank did move to the suburbs? He still gets a stadium, the GWCC needs only $1.5-$2M for the next 20 years to operate (less than the amount of money the state will be kicking in for the new land needed for the replacement stadium), and there’s still a new stadium built with all those jobs cited by Falcons’ boosters, but also the actual infrastructure investment made available by freeing up this money for projects that actually have merit.

To make it clear about the second part, I’m not advocating the Falcons move to the burbs nor would I think that makes taxpayer financing a better deal. I’m saying that if you follow the rehtoric even being used by those trying to sell us this stadium, we aren’t worse off if that’s the way this has to happen.

David Staples January 22, 2013 at 2:24 pm

And tell them to stay away from Cobb. This is the type of thing I’m sure Tim Lee would just love to raise our taxes to help pay for.

atlanta_advocate January 22, 2013 at 4:44 pm

1) Charlie, you think that it isn’t easy. My belief is that it is impossible. That is basically the difference between you and I on this matter.

2. “but also the actual infrastructure investment made available by freeing up this money for projects that actually have merit.”

Have you asked GOPers in the legislature what they believe to be an infrastructure investment in Atlanta that has merit? If you have, then please share with us what the GOPers in the legislature believe to be a worthy infrastructure project for Atlanta. If you have not, then please do so and report back with what you find. I personally believe that the combination of “worthy investment” and “Atlanta” is something that never crosses their mind, but I would be happy to be informed that I am wrong.

David Staples January 22, 2013 at 2:22 pm

…”and large conventions in that aging facility in that part of town where there is a shiny, modern state of the art new stadium in the tony suburbs will be mighty tough.”

Just a quick question… how many football games do you think typical convention attendees go to? Do you think their primary venue is the Dome or the Georgia World Congress Center? It seems I keep hearing that Atlanta will lose convention business without the Falcons… but every convention I’ve ever been to, I never have time for sporting events. I’m typically tied up with convention related sessions, keynote speeches, evening events put together at various local bars or at the hotel or whatever.

IndyInjun January 22, 2013 at 3:49 pm

If they are asking for the CAP to be raised to $300 million, why doesn’t the term sheet say so rather than directing that the GWCCA maximize the HM revenue stream to the greatest possible debt. The increase in the HM tax rate since the 2010 Barrett report, the average yield on revenue bonds, and even the growth rates all have gone tremendously more favorable, so that the maxed out financing from HM taxes could easily pass $500 million. (Even without the above factors, the 2010 Barrett report put the max at more than $464 million)

If you want a raise in the CAP Falcons, modify the term sheet to say so and quit talking about “$300 million in taxpayer funds.” The HM tax increase brought the Dome share to be hijacked for the Falcon’s stadium to $20 million a year times 30 years or $600 million, assuming 0 growth.

IndyInjun January 22, 2013 at 4:01 pm

Then there is a SECOND tier of bonds.

The Term sheet says the funding for the HM Revenue Bonds is limited to the (now Dome share) 39.3% share of the HM tax, but there is no provision to return any excess funds if those fund more than $300 million of debt. The funding waterfall suggests that those funds can produce more debt. Indeed in TWO places it says that GWCC is to max out the debt issuance.

There is what I see as creative language around the SECOND public cost and that is the seat rights. The HM tax AND the seat rights are collectively the “GWCCA CONTRIBUTION” that is to be maxed out. The TERM SHEET very clearly references this secondary debt issuance. How much could that be? The term sheet language around set rights and who owns what portion of the funding stream seems to be structured so that GWCCA’s gift of seat rights can then be treated as a funding stream that comes back to GWCCA for bond service.

Then there is the matter of the $14 million that the Dome contributed to public coffers before the Falcons get it all, $14 million over and above the debt service. Doesn’t nearly all of that go away? Where are the proforma financials on how much this is?

IndyInjun January 22, 2013 at 4:16 pm

Let’s look at what the public’s cost really is:

Infrastructure – $200 million
HM Tax – $600 million
Annual Dome GWCCA Profit Contribution (figure 1/2 decrease) – $210 million
Change Orders and cost overruns for which public is responsible (probably 1/2) – $100 million.

Anyone who buys the $300 million public funds limit has blinders on.

If you really MEAN $300 million is the limit, Falcons and GWCCA, put it in writing.

It isn’t and that is why Governor Deal is balking.

Stick to your guns on this one Nathan and we will have your back.

atlanta_advocate January 22, 2013 at 4:48 pm

Right up until Blank takes the Falcons and leaves downtown for Cobb or Gwinnett. At that point you will blame Deal. Or far more likely, blame the mayor and people of Atlanta.

IndyInjun January 22, 2013 at 5:56 pm

Say what you mean and mean what you say.

It isn’t $300 million, it is well over $1 billion.

You all cannot sell the $1 billion number, no way, now how.

There are seriously injurious provisions in that term sheet and the Governor knows, or at least should by now, that this thing will blow up in his face should he go along with the charade.

There are synergies by having the Falcon’s stadium and GWCC adjacent. These synergies are there for both sides. There is middle ground, but that Term Sheet isn’t it and it will get politicians excoriated.

IndyInjun January 22, 2013 at 5:57 pm

no how……..an edit feature would be nice.

Nonchalant January 22, 2013 at 7:26 pm

I have to admit I am confused about why Mr. Blank would move to the suburbs if the state money is not approved. The city of Atlanta is fighting for him, it’s the Republicans of the suburbs against him. Then why move? If Mr. Blank does not get “his” money, it will be the state that did it to him, not the city. The city is fighting for him. So why move? I mean, he can still build a smaller stadium downtown, just as he would do in the suburbs, yes? And can he not still potentially access the $200 million GWCC money if the $300 million is not approved–money he would not be able to get if he moves? Thus, could he not *always* potentially build a bigger and better stadium in Atlanta than what he will ever be able to do in the suburbs, no matter if the $300 million extension is approved or not?

So, if Mr. Blank moves, it seems to me that it won’t be because it is necessary or logical to do so, but because he desires it, even though the city is 100% behind hm. Now, as to what those motivating factors for Mr. Blank wishing to move out of downtown might be, I of course won’t hazard a guess, for I cannot peer into a man’s soul.

Harry January 22, 2013 at 8:06 pm

Blank is a racist?

Daddy Got A Gun January 22, 2013 at 9:23 pm

He can’t be. He is a liberal. He contribute to Dear Leader Obama, Rep. Hank Johnson, a bunch of Dems, and Johnny Issakson (not sure what that says about Johnny)

Only Conservatives who are winning arguments can be racist.

IndyInjun January 22, 2013 at 8:22 pm

” And can he not still potentially access the $200 million GWCC money if the $300 million is not approved”

Yes, but this deal isn’t about the $200 million, it is about the $800 million represented by that term sheet.

Vesuvius January 22, 2013 at 9:19 pm

“The Governor’s public statement after the meeting says he still supports the $300 Million package as is currently in the negotiated terms sheet but according to the station it is Blank that ‘must do the heavy lifting.'”

I read this to mean that the Governor expects Arthur Blank to do the heavy lifting by getting legislators to vote to up the bond authority to $300 million, not pony up more of his cash. The Governor knows the votes to do so are not there right now, and he is not going to throw himself in front of this train (no MARTA pun intended) for Blank.

As we begin to limp out of the worst recession in decades, a new stadium should be our lowest priority. Let’s see where Georgia’s economy is in the next three to five years before considering this boondoggle again. This certainly is not a priority for the City of Atlanta or the State of Georgia right now. If Blank wants to take his team elsewhere, good luck to him. I think it is all a big bluff and power trip on his part, anyway.

The Last Democrat in Georgia January 22, 2013 at 10:03 pm

A new stadium is not “our” priority, it is Arthur Blank’s priority.

Arthur Blank is the one pushing this, not the City of Atlanta and not the State of Georgia.

It is Arthur Blank who wants public financing for his new stadium and unfortunately, as Arthur Blank himself is well-aware, he is the one who holds all of the cards in this saga of negotiations between himself and the state.

For Blank, the gist of those negotiations basically breakdown to “Either I get public funding for my new stadium in Atlanta, or I build my new stadium elsewhere in Metro Atlanta…or Los Angeles.

The Last Democrat in Georgia January 22, 2013 at 10:46 pm

“Regardless, most in the region understand that traffic is a main concern, and two decades of neglect have allowed an overly congested system to become broken. Fixing it will be not be easy nor cheap.”

…You can (and should) say that again, Charlie. It took many years of wanton neglect to us into the transportation mess that we find ourselves in and it will take many years and BILLIONS of dollars to get us out of it.

“If the city were to show leadership in making that tough choice, it would be much easier for the Mayor to go to the Governor and ask for funding for commuter rail and possibly state involvement for MARTA to make it a true regional system.”

Charlie, as you and I have discussed quite a few on times on this board, it’s not the job of the Mayor of the City of Atlanta to ask the Governor of the State of Georgia and ask for funding for a commuter rail system that would span a 40+ county area through North Georgia.

Also, considering that the densely-populated urban core of Metro Atlanta now covers at least a five-county area in North Georgia, one can also very much legitimately make the argument that it is not the job or responsibility of the Mayor of the City of Atlanta to ask for state involvement in making the severely-declining MARTA a “truly regional system” that adequately serves the five or more highly-populated counties that generate the bulk of the traffic that contributes directly to the severe congestion that plagues the state-maintained highways (Interstates, surface roads and freeways) that criss-cross said five-plus county urban core.

debbie0040 January 23, 2013 at 9:35 am

Supporters of public funding of the stadium keep trying to allude to the fact only the local government of Atlanta will have skin or tax dollars in the game.

That is completely false. The tax-payers of Georgia have tax dollars in the mix as well. The state purchased land to be used for the stadium and the cost was over 20 million dollars. If Blank wants the stadium built on that land, then he needs to BUY it from the state. Then there is the fact the state will lose millions of dollars by waiving sales tax for construction. The state will also have to gurantee the bonds.

It is a matter of priorities. That state money could go to fund much needed mental health programs and create a program for autistic children whose parents can’t afford the latest treatment. After what happened with the shooting at the school , shouldn’t more focus be on mental health issues instead of helping fund a stadium?

If the Governor and state legislators approves a sales tax exemption and just giving the land that was purchased for the stadium to be built on it, it would serve them right if parents of children with mental health issues protest at the Capitol the injustice. Then there are other programs the money could be used for. Imagine those groups would be upset as well.

benevolus January 23, 2013 at 11:54 am

If the deal was done right you could do both. I am sure Arthur Blank expects to recoup his investment through ticket sales, etc. so ultimately it won’t cost him anything. It should be the same for the state.

John Konop January 25, 2013 at 8:05 am

Debbie,

I do think you make a very good point. And a win win deal could be struck with Banks buying the stadium. In Dallas they raised ticket prices to help pay for their new stadium. We need to associate real cost with projects and push the risk more on the private sector. As I have said many times, I have no issue with tax payers helping the private sector with economic growth, but the risk reward part has to be weighted way more on the private sector than tax payers. Today we have way to many deals that have blown up that put tax payers with the majority of the risk and private sector gets all the upside. I give Debbie credit for being all over this issue!

Also by dealing with transportation as well it helps with marketing the stadium for events as well as economic growth.

IndyInjun January 25, 2013 at 9:30 am

Debbie’s postings have been most informative and she is right. I guess what somewhat astounds me is that Atlanta metro area has all manner of business ‘journalists’ who have not bothered to critically assess GWCC and the Falcon’s own posted agreement to point out the $hundreds of millions of public funds being spent.

The notion that the rest of us don’t pay is laughable because, with the capitol being in Atlanta, folks statewide have to pay the HM tax when we come there to attend to matters of governance.

What happens when this deal sends GWCC into horrendous losses? Does anyone doubt that they would come to the General Assembly with their hat in their hands? In 2010, they had a loss that prompted an increase in the tax by 1% that raised $3.6 million a year for GWCC and $2.4 million a year for the dome , which bailed them out. Don’t these people see some limit to what the citizens are willing to bear for something that is totally discretionary and a luxury?

Charlie January 25, 2013 at 9:40 am

The 1% tax added to hotel motel taxes in 2010 was to fund the Atlanta Convention Visitors Bureau and didn’t increase the amount going to the GWCC or Dome debt service.

IndyInjun January 25, 2013 at 10:12 am

Thanks. That tax went into effect in 2011 and the Dome’s HM tax share shot up about 10% which correlated with a partial year’s collection of tax. I stand corrected, but while doing so note that the Barrett Sports report included a reference to a 1% increase in the HM tax. Does this mean that the tax will be increased yet another 1%?

An organic increase of that size – not of a tax increase – means that the public contribution is even greater than the Barrett used when it came up to funding as much as $464 million.

debbie0040 January 23, 2013 at 9:37 am

The money from the hotel/motel tax could be used to fund MARTA/Transit or to fund water/sewer improvements and give the tax-payers a break.

Daddy Got A Gun January 23, 2013 at 9:57 am

The Kasim Reed Sewage Treatment Plant doesn’t work for a guy with big ambitions.

Kasim Reed Stadium …… now that says BIG!

griftdrift January 23, 2013 at 10:09 am

“The money from the hotel/motel tax could be used to fund MARTA/Transit or to fund water/sewer improvements and give the tax-payers a break.”

Not without changing the law and figuring out how you would still service the debt on the state owned properties downtown i.e., the Dome.

-Since it’s formation, the State has never contributed to MARTA

-1971: Clayton, Gwinnett and Cobb vote to not participate in MARTA

-1990s: Gwinnett AGAIN votes down a referendum extending MARTA into the county

-2012: TSPLOST Fails

So please. Tell me exactly how the state is going to take $200 million it has already dedicated and suddenly change it’s mind and say, let’s fund MARTA.

Please. I’m dying to no. And saying “it’s hard but has to be done”, is not really an answer.

IndyInjun January 23, 2013 at 10:18 am

GWCC can do as it wishes with that $200 million. No one can stop them. Their problem is that there is already more than $100 million of that funding space in outstanding Dome debt. Their worst problem in getting more is that their numbers don’t add up versus their own term sheet and studies.

griftdrift January 23, 2013 at 10:20 am

Stop muddying the waters. No they can’t. GWCC can’t “fund” MARTA.

IndyInjun January 23, 2013 at 10:52 am

The math is pretty straightforward. All you have to do is look at their own studies and adjust for market data. This isn’t $300 million taxpayer support. It is more than a billion. The “muddy” waters are the creation of GWCCA.

mpierce January 24, 2013 at 4:32 am

Not without changing the law and figuring out how you would still service the debt on the state owned properties downtown i.e., the Dome.

Not without changing the law can GWCC raise it’s limit to $300M. So I suppose you would be against it then? Isn’t the Dome bond expected to be paid off in 2017?

Since it’s formation, the State has never contributed to MARTA

MARTA spokesman Lyle Harris explained that during the past 15 years, the agency has consistently received about $2 million annually from the General Assembly for capital expenses

So please. Tell me exactly how the state is going to take $200 million it has already dedicated and suddenly change it’s mind and say, let’s fund MARTA.

Hmm.. They could change the law. Wow that was hard.

IndyInjun January 23, 2013 at 10:14 am

Amazing. This stadium has Debbie, Charlie and Indy singing from the same hymn book!

Dave Bearse January 25, 2013 at 12:02 am

You may all be in the same church, but I don’t think you’re all singing the same hymn.

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