Dearest Media: Atlanta Mayor Reed & Arthur Blank To Announce Stadium Deal At 2:30

Dear Atlanta Media:

When attending this announcement, please do not dutifully accept the talking points that you have been digesting steadily and report “Taxpayers will contribute (Insert agreed amount here) from out of towners via hotel motel tax, and The Falcons will pay the rest.”

It’s not true.  It’s very provably not true.

And if you do this, not only will we judge you, but you will be revealing that you are actually in the business of public relations and not journalism.

I’ll likely be at the capitol during tonight’s local newscasts. I’d like our community to report back to us who reports what cost numbers for this deal in the comments section so we can see who is distributing news versus who is distributing talking points.

Added: Fox5 in Atlanta tweets they’ll stream it live here.

49 comments

  1. Spacey G says:

    Jeez Charlie, asking TV news stations to report without benefit of a press release of talking points from City Hall (and gawd do those things go on for freakin’ ever; someone at City Hall can sure bang away on the keyboard almost as much as, say, Bob Barr can bang on a keyboard with no particular destination in mind, but I diverge) is like asking an Alabama beauty pageant contestant their thoughts on early-19th century French history. As in… why bother, because you know better than to even go there.

  2. Noway says:

    Regarding the Alabama beauty queen, Spacey, she’ll more than likely be so gorgeous that we wouldn’t give two hoots if she knew anything about 19th century French history or not!

    • Spacey G says:

      Well, Noway, I’d say you were absolutely spot-on, except people LOVE that YouTube clip of the Ala. pageant contestant being quizzed about (South Africa was it? I forget) global affairs. Still! They trot out that chestnut on TV news stations often, come to think about it. Call it “content” I’d expect.

  3. Charlie says:

    The guarantee is down to $200M, to be paid by the future proceeds of the hotel motel tax. The City and State are said to not be a backstop on this debt. This number is down $100 Million.

    The Falcons are now said to be paying for roughly $50 million of infrastructure improvements. That number (and a much larger one) was earlier said to be paid for by the City. This appears to be an improvement on the earlier terms sheet.

    The Falcons and the City will each contribute $15 Million to neighborhood improvment initiatives in the area, with a promise to try and raise an additional $15 Million from private outside funds.

    All of that is better than the deal that was originally proposed for the taxpayers.

    With that, I have two immediate questions:

    1) Does this $200M still include paying off the roughly $100M in bonds that remain on the Georgia Dome, meaning the Falcons only get roughly $100M in new hotel motel tax funds for construction, and,

    2) The hotel motel tax dedicated to the stadium will raise much more than $200M over its life through 2050. We need a specific detail of where these funds will go once the $200M in bonds are paid off.

    Also, Councilman Caesar Mitchell was quick to note that the City Council must still vet this deal and then vote to approve it. I hope he will use that opportunity to get very specific answers to the above questions.

    Also, note that the State is buying the land needed to build this stadium. Those funds are tax dollars and need to be remembered in whatever final total is discussed.

    • John Konop says:

      I have met Caesar at a pp event, and he seems like a rational smart guy. I would bet he will be all over the fine print. I do think Reed and Mitchell have been the best leadership I have seen in the 12 years since I have been in the area for city of Atlanta. Finally I do think Mr. Blanks has been a very positive force for the community. Not sure of the details of the deal, but I feel much more confortable now with the current above parties verse the past leadership……..

    • Al Gray says:

      Where is the agreement so that it can be inspected?

      They were saying before that the public ‘contribution’ was ‘capped’ at $200 million, then $300 million, now $200 million. If it is truly capped at $200 million, what happens to the balance of the funds over 30 or 35 years of bonds?

      One set of consultants used 35 year bond financing and the other 30 years. At today’s low interest rate environment and given the average growth of HM taxes over the last decade, the difference is in the $tens of millions.

      The fix is in. The Atlanta “business media” needs to think how they are going to look after they just phone this thing in after Peach Pundit sounded the alarm.

      With 73% of Georgians against this deal and perhaps a majority of Atlantans too, we have to relish what the “business media,” the Cox newspaper, and the politicians are setting themselves up for by rushing into a ‘papered over’ bad deal.

      Thanks, Charlie. We gave fair warning. Now the fun will really begin.

  4. Spacey G says:

    OK, here’s the ENTIRE freakin’ press release on the matter from City Hall. I told you people they can sure bang the keyboard. Have at it.

    Mayor Kasim Reed and the Atlanta Falcons Reach Agreement on Terms for a New Stadium in Downtown Atlanta
    Posted Date: 3/7/2013 2:30 PM

    Mayor’s Office of Communications
    55 Trinity Avenue, Suite 2500 • Atlanta, Georgia 30303
    Sonji Jacobs, Director
    404-330-6558, office
    404-276-6866, cell
    [email protected]
    Reese McCranie, Deputy Director
    404-330-6006, office
    404-886-2334, cell
    [email protected]

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 03/07/13
    News Release
    Mayor Kasim Reed and the Atlanta Falcons Reach Agreement on Terms for a New Stadium in Downtown Atlanta
    Tentative deal does not impose any new taxes on city residents and business owners and will create jobs, directly invest $30 million for redevelopment of the English Avenue, Vine City and Castleberry Hill neighborhoods, and include a $50 million investment in infrastructure improvements
    ATLANTA – After several weeks of negotiations and community inclusion, Mayor Kasim Reed and the Atlanta Falcons have reached an agreement on key city terms for the construction of a new stadium in downtown Atlanta, subject to approval by the Georgia World Congress Center Authority (GWCCA) board, the Atlanta City Council and Invest Atlanta.
    The agreements negotiated between Mayor Reed and the Atlanta Falcons include several major elements based on input from the Atlanta City Council, Atlanta residents, neighborhood groups and business owners concerned about job creation, minority and woman owned business participation in the construction, infrastructure improvements and economic development in the neighborhoods surrounding the proposed stadium. These agreements build on the framework that had been negotiated by the GWCCA and the Atlanta Falcons for a new stadium on the GWCCA campus.

    The deal terms include more than $30 million in direct investment for the English Avenue, Vine City and Castleberry Hill neighborhoods, and a $50 million investment in infrastructure improvements in the area adjacent to the proposed new stadium. Specifically:

    o The Atlanta Falcons would assume responsibility for $50 million in infrastructure costs related to stadium construction.

    o The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation would commit to investing $15 million in private funds in the English Avenue, Vine City, Castleberry Hill and other neighborhoods contiguous to the new stadium to address overall needs as part of a cohesive plan; accelerate quality-of-life improvements; improve health, education and welfare of current residents; address equity and social justice issues associated with new residential and commercial development; and attract new investment, new jobs and new residents.

    o Invest Atlanta, the city’s economic development agency, would also commit $15 million in tax allocation district dollars for economic development projects that would leverage private sector and philanthropic investment in the English Avenue, Vine City and Castleberry Hill communities, pending approval by its board.

    o To promote full and equal business opportunities in connection with the design and construction of the new stadium, the Atlanta Falcons and the GWCCA have agreed to develop an Equal Business Opportunity Plan that will ensure at least 31 percent participation by women and minority business enterprises. The construction of the stadium is expected to create more than 1,400 full-time equivalent jobs in Atlanta and more than 4,500 full-time equivalent jobs across Georgia over a three-year period, according to a study completed by Georgia State University Associate Professor Dr. Bruce Seaman.

    o The public contribution for stadium construction is capped at $200 million, which would come from the hotel-motel tax collected by the city of Atlanta almost exclusively (more than 85 percent) from visitors and tourists, not residents of the City of Atlanta. Invest Atlanta would be asked to issue the bonds using the hotel-motel tax that currently supports the Georgia Dome. The existing hotel-motel tax revenue stream is the sole public funding source for the stadium construction and any risk associated with repayment is carried by the bond holders, not the City of Atlanta.

    o No property taxes or new taxes of any kind would be paid by or levied on City of Atlanta residents or businesses to fund construction of the new stadium. The City of Atlanta will not serve as a backstop for any debt associated with the construction of a new stadium and this agreement will not affect the city’s bond capacity or credit capacity.

    “I am pleased that we reached an agreement that will ensure the Atlanta Falcons remain in the heart of our city for many years to come and will lead to revitalization of some of the city’s most historic neighborhoods,” said Mayor Reed. “Equally important, a new stadium will lead to the creation of well-paying jobs during its construction at a time when many of our friends and neighbors are seeking employment. This new stadium will also keep the city of Atlanta at the forefront of the hospitality industry in America as we pursue our goal of attracting 40 million visitors annually. It will strengthen the viability of the more than 200,000 jobs that support our tourism and convention business every single day.”

    Atlanta attracts more than 39.7 million visitors annually, according to the latest data from the Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau. In 2011, tourism generated $12 billion in visitor spending. The hospitality industry is responsible for more than 229,000 jobs for Atlanta residents. In addition, 12 million visitors traveled to metropolitan Atlanta for business purposes in 2011 and spent an estimated $5 billion.

    “We appreciate the Mayor and his staff’s diligence in moving the agreements for a new stadium toward completion,” said Atlanta Falcons Owner & Chairman Arthur Blank. “We are grateful to the members of the Atlanta City Council who have given us the opportunity to address their questions or concerns, and we will continue to work with the Mayor, City Council, Invest Atlanta and our partners at the Georgia World Congress Center in reaching final agreements.”

    The Atlanta City Council would vote on the extension of the hotel-motel tax to 2050 and other key agreements among the City of Atlanta, GWCCA and the Atlanta Falcons. The memorandum of understanding for the development, construction and operation of the new stadium would require GWCCA Board approval. Invest Atlanta would need to approve resolutions to issue the bonds necessary to move forward with stadium construction.

    Mayor Reed, who has supported the Atlanta Falcons in the team’s effort to build a stadium and remain Atlanta’s hometown football team, became directly engaged in the negotiations in January. The Atlanta City Council also has played a vital role in this process. With the full support of the Reed administration, council members have engaged their constituents and other stakeholders through several public meetings, some of which lasted for more than five hours and included detailed presentations from Rich McKay, President and CEO of the Atlanta Falcons; Frank Poe, Executive Director of the GWCCA; Duriya Farooqui, Chief Operating Officer of the City of Atlanta; and Brian McGowan, President and CEO of Invest Atlanta As the process continues, Invest Atlanta will lead community engagement with the English Avenue, Vine City and Castleberry Hill neighborhoods.

    The new stadium is estimated to cost approximately $1 billion. About $800 million for the cost of construction of the new stadium will come from investments contributed by the Atlanta Falcons and other private sources. The $200 million public contribution from hotel-motel tax revenue has been specifically dedicated by the Georgia General Assembly for the Georgia Dome or a successor stadium on the Georgia World Congress Center campus and cannot be used for other purposes, such as for Atlanta Public Schools, infrastructure needs or transportation improvements.

    As previously agreed, the GWCCA and Atlanta Falcons would endeavor to minimize negative effects on businesses, traffic and neighboring properties and businesses surrounding the new stadium site during construction, development and operation of the new stadium, and will further seek to identify reasonable opportunities to enhance the area surrounding the new stadium.

    A new stadium would allow the City of Atlanta to remain nationally competitive for major events which are currently held at the Georgia Dome and have a significant annual economic impact on the city, including the SEC Championship ($29 million-$32 million); Chick-fil-A Bowl ($24 million-$35 million); Chick-fil-A Kickoff ($25 million-$36 million) and the Bank of America Classic ($21 million-$30 million). The total annual economic impact of these four events is between $100 million and $133 million, according to data reviewed by Dr. Seaman.

    A new stadium also would greatly enhance the city’s ability to attract new marquee events that would have a positive economic impact on the city as well as create and retain jobs in the city. Dr. Seaman estimates the potential citywide economic impact of a Super Bowl at between $125 million and $203 million; FIFA World Cup at $100 million-$200 million; a new BCS Championship at $110 million-$185 million; and a Major League Soccer franchise at $25 million-$36 million annually.

    In the next two years, more than $1.5 billion in development will open in Atlanta, including the Atlanta Streetcar, Porsche North American headquarters, the National Center for Civil and Human Rights, the College Football Hall of Fame, Buckhead Atlanta and Ponce City Market.

    # # #
    For more information about the City of Atlanta, please visit http://www.atlantaga.gov or watch City Channel 26. Follow the City of Atlanta on Facebook and Twitter @City_of_Atlanta. Follow Mayor Reed on Facebook and Twitter @Kasim Reed

    • Charlie says:

      No mention of the land that will be paid for by the state when talking about the public investment being capped, as has become customary with their press releases. State money is taxpayer money.

      The wording of the release says the Falcons will pay for $50M in infrastructure improvments. Is this a cap? We don’t even know where the site is yet, much less what infrastructure improvments will be required. If more than $50 Million, the assumption has to be that taxpayers will pay.

      And, the big question remains, who gets the proceeds after the $200M is raised by the hotel/motel tax but the tax continues on to 2050?

      • Dave Bearse says:

        I object to the construction timing, not the stadium funding package (assuming it is on the order of $300M). I think the existing stadium is likely yet very servicable for another 10 years. (Perhaps it could use a new roof in a few years, but the roof replacement timeframe is based on the long haul, i.e. replacing the roof before costs escalate with deterioration. If the plan is the Dome will be torn down the roof could likely go a few more years beyond those few years when there’s only safety to consider, and not roof replacement economics of replacement.

        In 2050 the principal GWCC Convention building(s) will be what, 60 years old? Significant building rehabilitation/reconstruction expenses are perhaps on the 20-25 year horizon. There’s NS triple main track railroad running under those buildings.

        In event the gulch is developed, the GWCC would be looked to for the millions required to establish access between the gulch development and GWCC. A gulch development concept is that the development would be the central link in a pedestrian friendly swath from the Dome (Gold) to Dome (Georgia). Lack of pedestrian friendliness (safe, covered, driectness, etc) between Five Points and GWCC/Philips/Dome generally results in north-south line transit users transfering for at Five Point for a one-two station trip. Transit especially from the GWCC/Philips/Dome after an event would be improved if the transfer could be skipped.

        • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

          Dave Bearse, March 7, 2013 at 4:16 pm-

          “Transit especially from the GWCC/Philips/Dome after an event would be improved if the transfer could be skipped.”

          I totally agree. If we’re talking about enhancing transit access to that area, there should be a station built for north-south trains over the existing Dome/GWCC/Philips/CNN MARTA Station whenever regional commuter rail service comes online.

  5. Spacey G says:

    Well, I can assure you any proceeds will never be used to repave DeFoor Avenue! Which remains as crappy as ever. Forever apparently. Sad really.

  6. WeymanCWannamakerJr says:

    Can you say personal seat licenses. I’m going to miss watching the home games on television.

  7. Baker says:

    My favorite part is how they connect all this to helping out the neighborhoods in the area…as if they couldn’t have already been doing that this whole time.

    • noparty says:

      Simple. Blank had no incentive to help these neighborhoods before. It wasn’t in his interests and it wasn’t his responsibility. But getting this stadium is in his interests, so if helping these neighborhoods makes the politics for getting his stadium happen, then so be it. As for why the city didn’t help those neighborhoods … same deal. Without this, there would have been no more reason to help these neighborhoods than any of the other many neighborhoods in the city who need (or want) it. But if this gets them the stadium and keeps the Falcons downtown, then they have an incentive to prioritize helping these neighborhoods over all the rest.

    • Harry says:

      Anecdotal comment: One of my business associates from elsewhere recently took a “tour” of Vine City on his way to the airport and it turned him negative on Atlanta in a big way.

      • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

        If Vine City turned him negative on Atlanta then he obviously has never been to similar or WORSE neighborhoods in cities like L.A., N.Y.C., D.C., Detroit, Chicago, Miami, Philadelphia, etc.
        Those and other major cities have areas that make Vine City look like a picnic.

        • Harry says:

          I’m not disagreeing, but you have to admit Vine City is the only real negative left in the vicinity being situated as it is between the GWCC/Dome to the east, Atlanta University Center to the west, and a greatly improving northwest Atlanta district. I don’t have the magic fix, but I’m just saying.

          • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

            I agree, though I am seeing very, very early signs of gentification in the area. Though it’s hard for me to get too down on that area seeing as how bad things have been in the past when crime was much worse ITP.

  8. noparty says:

    @Dave Bearse:

    Objecting to the timing ignores this major reality. Sure, we can get at least 10 more years out of the Georgia Dome, and possibly 20 or more if we choose to repair/renovate it, but Arthur Blank is not the city of Atlanta, the GWCC Authority, or the state of Georgia. Once his lease expires in 2017, he is free to relocate to whatever new facility he wants for whatever reason he wants. He has no obligation in any sense to wait until the Georgia Dome is unviable before seeking another place for his team to play.

    So fine, let Blank leave. But then what do we have? A Georgia Dome that will need major repairs/renovations or replacement in 10 years, except no NFL team in it to either justify the cost or share it. Attract another NFL team? Not if Blank simply relocates to the suburbs, where he already has one public offer (Clayton County) and undoubtedly a number of private ones from politicians in more conservative areas who don’t want to enrage their constituents by going public until they have a done deal. And in that case, the new events like the Super Bowl and World Cup will bypass the Dome for the new stadium, and the existing events like the Chik-Fil-A Bowl, SEC championship game, Final Fours and NCAA regionals, etc. will migrate there too once their existing contracts expire as Blank’s has.

    Even if Blank goes out of state, good luck getting another owner, because he’ll be stuck with the same dome that Blank doesn’t want for 10 years, and then will have to shell out nearly a billion to replace it just like Blank is now. No owner is going to come to Atlanta under those conditions when he can get a much better deal elsewhere. Now if your position is that we will be willing to pay for the new stadium ourselves in 10 years if that is what it takes to get a new team … how does spending $800 million more in 2020 than we will have to right now save us money? That isn’t being responsible. It is just throwing away nearly $1 billion just so you can say that you aren’t building a new facility before you have to.

    You might say “it is the principle of the thing” but that principle is based on the assumption that you’ll be able to get the same deal 10 years from now when you “need” the new stadium as you can now when you “don’t.” But if you can’t, then the whole assumption – that waiting until a new stadium is actually needed is more fiscally responsible and/or better public policy – is invalid, because the result will almost certainly be having no team in 10 years, or under the best possible scenario having to pay a much larger share of the cost in 10 years than we have to pay today.

    Add it all up and it is as simple as this: Arthur Blank’s timing isn’t based on how many more years we can get out of the Georgia Dome before it has to be replaced, but rather when his lease on a building that he has no obligation to or responsibility for whatsoever runs out. And because of this, the city’s timing isn’t based on maximizing the life of the Georgia Dome, but whatever keeps an NFL team playing in whatever facility they have. The only way that it could be any different would be if the Falcons and the Georgia Dome had the same owner. That is when making the team sit pat until the use of the facility was maximized made financial sense. But Blank spending 10 years in a low revenue, aging facility makes no financial sense to him, and the city losing the Falcons to preserve the Georgia Dome makes no sense to it.

    So in a reality based perspective, Blank is driving the timetable because a new facility now instead of in 10 years makes him more money, and the city is following suit because they need the Falcons in order to make any money on any facility at all.

    • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

      I’m not all that hot about seeing so much money spent on a new stadium, but those are some good points.

    • Dave Bearse says:

      Your explanation is all valid.

      I’ve written before that it’s Atlanta’s business if Atlanta wants to give a billionaire many tens of millions of dollars. That’s the cost of early demolition paid for with taxes of which only single percentage digits worth have anything to do with the Dome.

      Peon fans in the stands will collectively be giving Blank ten of millions too, as well as subsidizing the luxury box crowd, because the peon stadium experience will be little changed.

      It’s a reason I have little interest in professional football. It also affects my opinion of the credibility of people and media that gush about the magnaminity of Blank.

      • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

        “It’s a reason I have little interest in professional football.”

        That’s not unusual as most people around these parts have little real interest in pro football, they just like to bet on it.

        The real interest around these parts (SEC country) is in the game that’s played on Saturdays.

      • noparty says:

        “I’ve written before that it’s Atlanta’s business if Atlanta wants to give a billionaire many tens of millions of dollars.”

        I still don’t get the “giving a billionaire tens of millions of dollars” part. Blank won’t own the stadium, the city will. So Blank is giving the city $800 million dollars. And without Blank in the picture, the city/state would have to pay for the entire cost of the new stadium itself, just like they did the Georgia Dome.

        “It also affects my opinion of the credibility of people and media that gush about the magnaminity of Blank.”

        Because they are comparing Blank with A) the Smith family, B) the group that runs the Hawks and lost the Thrashers, C) other notorious pro sports owners.

        You may not like it, but the city benefits from having both the Falcons and a modern facility that helps a relatively tiny city (less than 450,000 people) that has a large poor population, is not in a warm weather area and offers no natural or well known tourist attractions (Atlanta is no Miami, Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston, San Diego, New Orleans etc.) to compete for major events. It would be different if Atlanta were the only game in town like it was 20 years ago. But now, there are NFL teams with newer facilities in Nashville and Charlotte that would easily step in and fill the void should Atlanta lose the Falcons and be stuck with a Dome that won’t be “perfectly fine” in 10 years.

        And it is not just pro football. It is routine for pro sports … they pretty much all fund their stadiums with public/private deals that are actually even worse than the terms under which the Falcons are getting this stadium. And if you are a college fan … exactly where do you think the money comes from for their even bigger stadiums? And the college stadiums aren’t used for the general public benefit the way that the pro stadiums are, because those stadiums are owned by the colleges and not by the public. So those massive stadiums and athletics complexes at places like UGA, Auburn, Alabama, Tennessee, Georgia Tech etc. are every bit as publicly funded, except unlike the pro facilities they pretty much sit empty when ole state u isn’t playing.

  9. Al Gray says:

    The agreement is bifurcated and that is what a lot of folks are missing. The hotel/motel tax not only funds the bond debt for construction up front, it spills over into maintenance and ongoing capital expenditures. Besides that, there was a provision in the GWCCA term sheet whereby the excess HM funds in the out-years could be diverted into more bonds. I don’t think what they have hurriedly cobbled together with Atlanta deviates in many aspects from the GWCCA agreement.

    Another thing that is interesting is that the GWCCA consultant report in 9/2012 relied on 35 year bonds per the Citi report whereas all of his stand-alone reports assumed 30 years. At low interest rates, the value of that 5 years more today is not insignificant.

    There is at least one $20 million-plus item in the financing that goes “poof,” if my read is correct.

    Is this what happens when a metro area of 5 million people, to include thousands of premier accountants and attorneys who should know better, all pick up pom-poms?

  10. Jackster says:

    So, my question is this: Could you make an election issue out of a new dome?

    One one hand, this could easily be played up as any number of city councilmen and/or Kasim Reed giving a rich white guy whatever he wanted.

    On the other, it could be spun as “keeping” the falcons, “bringing a new stadium” to atlanta, or “It’s a good deal for the city” type talk.

    Personally, I think this is a gift and a half to Mr. Blank and the Falcons; with that said, I will have very high expectations for the area surrounding the new dome, old dome, etc. If it doesn’t transform from a complete blight to something serviceable, then that is the political failure.

    • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

      “So, my question is this: Could you make an election issue out of a new dome?”

      Possibly, but likely not really with all of the talk of hosting future marquee events (Super Bowl, Final Fours, College Football Nat’l Title Games, etc) that will come with the new stadium deal.

    • noparty says:

      @Jackster:

      It isn’t spin. Blank’s lease on the Georgia Dome runs out in 2017. If there is no new stadium downtown by then, the rich white guy will take his team from downtown to the suburbs, where it would benefit even more rich white guys and be disastrous for working and poor black guys, or to some place like Utah.

      Political failure would be losing the Falcons to Gwinnett. The fiscally conservative folks in the suburbs don’t see it that way, but that is because they never had the Falcons to lose in the first place.

  11. saltycracker says:

    A political freight train of approval was coming but perhaps after the event took such a negative public eye, the train got some improvements.

    It remains a great leap of financial faith by the public for a public/private enterprise that sounds good but is wrapped in financial obfuscation.

    Charlie’s two big questions won’t clear the air but they’ll go a long way to see where we stand on public/private property/revenue.

    Revenue – how much, how long & who gets it.

    • Baker says:

      “Can’t find any discussion of actual costs beyond what is in the official press release/talking points here”

      I’m stunned…

  12. Charlie says:

    Politifact at least asks some critical questions, but omits the costs of the land (which has been previously reported in the AJC), and misses the fact that the Falcons contribution for infrastructure may not include the total needed, and leaves silent the question of who gets the proceeds of the hotel motel tax dedicated to this facility through 2050 after the $200 Million in bonds are paid.

    http://www.politifact.com/georgia/statements/2013/mar/08/kasim-reed/would-new-stadium-be-cheaper-dome-rehab-depends/

  13. Nonchalant says:

    I think we will pay a price in the future for effectively killing HB 362 so as to not jeopardize the deal. I hope Cagle thinks it was worth it. Killing attempts to stop crony unionism in contracts–a matter of import to the entire state—so one stadium could be built. I don’t know about that. Seeing as I have little faith in a future Georgia under a different party, perhaps a different Democratic party than the one before.

    If this deal is any indication, could we not routinely expect in such a future Georgia 31% (or greater) set asides (independent of an actual recent discrimination), and demands for “a piece of the action” from communities not really impacted by a project, but who are just demanding a little baksheesh? (i.e., as long as it is not a Chavez Ravine-type situation, it seems to me that it really is not the job of the Atlanta Falcons to make Vine City work. It’s the job of the residents of Vine City to make Vine City work)

    My guess is yes, this is in fact what we could expect. Michigan.

  14. poliscigal says:

    “I’ve written before that it’s Atlanta’s business if Atlanta wants to give a billionaire many tens of millions of dollars.”

    How I wish that were true! Atlantans should decide this in a public referendum. It’s too important to leave to the Mayor and City Council.

    At a social event Friday night, when I raised the issue of the need for a referendum to a city councilman, he argued that if the Voting Rights Act had gone to referendum, it would not have passed. I was just stunned with the comparison.

    • noparty says:

      Again, talk like this is based on the fantasy of either A) Blank will never actually move the Falcons from the city of Atlanta (he will) or B) it won’t be an economic and image disaster to the city of Atlanta if the Falcons move (it will). Leave aside the fact that publicly financed stadiums are routine in the sports world, the consequences to Atlanta of not doing this deal are horrible.

      It is easy to be a fiscal conservative in theory when it comes to matters like this. but a lot of people who love to expound on the theory don’t have to deal with the consequences of results like being stuck with an empty Georgia Dome during a decline in the tourism and conventions industries in this state and nationally.

  15. noparty says:

    @Nonchalant:

    People complaining about the terms of this deal should have supported the previous deal when it was before the legislature. Under that deal, there was no 31% set-asides and no funding for Vine City, because people with your ideology and who are elected by voters like you wouldn’t have stood for it.

    But when the deal was kicked over to the city of Atlanta, they had some leverage. Blank won’t play in the Georgia Dome after 2017, but he has some legitimate reasons to avoid building a facility in the suburbs or leaving the state. Just as Blank held the fact that he is going to leave without a stadium over the city’s head, the city held the fact that it is in Blank’s best interests to have the stadium downtown over his head. In the end, both sides were able to come to a compromise that they can agree to on things that you despise like affirmative action programs for minority contractors and social programs for the poor. Big deal. Had the state not kicked the ball into the city of Atlanta’s court, maybe the state would have been able to wring some conservative concessions out of Blank.

    The city of Atlanta was able to get a very good deal for itself, and that was their job. Instead of blaming them for being liberal Democrats – which is what they are – you should blame the conservative Republicans in the state legislature for refusing to do their job on the issue. Had they done their jobs, that HB 362 would be on its way to being law and there would be one less set aside program and social welfare program in this country. So put the blame where it belongs, which is on the people that you elected. Reid is doing a better job of representing his constituents than your guys are of representing you.

    And like it or not, Reid is doing a pretty good job. He took over a budget situation that was a mess and now the city is running a surplus. He led the way in resolving the city’s pension crisis, even if his particular plan wasn’t adopted. He worked with Governor Deal to keep the APS mess from becoming an even bigger nightmare than it was … what Clayton County became and what Sumter and DeKalb County are on the verge of becoming. He has significantly increased the size of the police force, and crime is down as a result. He was finally able to work out a deal to sell the old Sears building downtown that had been mostly a vacant eyesore since the Reagan administration for commercial and business development. The Beltline has weathered a major misappropriation of funds scandal and the failure of the T-SPLOST and is still moving forward with mostly private donations. He was able to keep the Falcons and get a new stadium on better terms than Blank had previously negotiated with Deal. And a bunch of IT firms are moving into the city and bringing high paying jobs with them, the first time such a development has happened since the dotcom bust put a lot of tech workers out of a job and caused a lot of our homegrown tech companies to get bought out and leave the state shortly afterwards. And keep in mind: he has done this despite a horrible recession and a housing market collapse that disproportionately affected the city and region.

    Like it or not, Reed has been a very effective politician, and the state could use more like him.

    • Harry says:

      The biggest problems for Atlanta are the unfunded pensions and the deferred infrastructure maintenance – just as with many other locales and states. I’m sure glad I don’t own property there anymore even if property values may be increasing. That being said, I agree the new stadium is a necessary improvement, and moreover will personally help pay for it by showing up, depending of course on my survival and level of engagement in the Falcons future performance.

    • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

      Like many, I’m personally not a big fan of the public having to finance a new stadium sooner than was expected, but those are some good points.

  16. Charlie says:

    http://www.dailyreportonline.com/PubArticleDRO.jsp?id=1202591757757&slreturn=20130211175937

    “The Falcons, along with the National Football League, had already agreed to pay the remaining $800 million needed to fund the stadium’s construction…”

    No mention of the taxpayers paying for the land. No mention of who pays if the infrastructure improvements go over $50 Million. And most importantly, no questioning of where the money goes from the tax that will be collected through 2050 that will be well north of the $200M that is the stated talking point cost to taxpayers.

    Another piece of PR masquerading as journalism. It does at least tell you which law firms are going to get paid.

  17. Al Gray says:

    A couple of things are interesting. The press release says the public funds are capped, but the legal summary indicates that they are estimated. Also the summary brings up the $2.5 million annual license as within the $948 construction cost, but that payment goes to GWCCA under stadium operations, not construction.

    Worse than not funny is that the documents NEVER spell out what the Falcons will pay. Worst of all is that in August 2013, all the Falcons have to do is open a bank account, not put money into it.

    Folks are writing me saying I don’t want this to get rammed through, but the opposite is the case. If it fails I don’t get to see all the booby traps and loopholes spotted used against the people of Atlanta and Georgia. This is artistry in action and it looks like they took lessons from a dysfunctional city over this way.

    It is amazing that something this brazen goes unchallenged in the South’s most sophisticated city, one amply populated with $1200 lawyers and accountants.

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