About That Stadium Where Taxpayers Will Contribute $200 Million “And The Falcons Will Pick Up The Rest”: Bull Excrement

March 15, 2013 8:30 am

by Charlie · 63 comments

We’ve been saying it here for some time, so today I will be even less subtle about it.

The Falcons have been playing a shell game with the public with regards to who is paying for this new stadium, and much of Atlanta’s media and Georgia’s government officials and agencies have gone along with it.

It’s time to call this out as what it is – a deliberate misrepresentation of who will be paying what.  Taxpayers will pay a lot more than the $200 Million dollar talking point pushed by Blank and codified by all others who repeat it without regard to the actual facts.  How much more?  Try up to $900 Million (plus land costs, plus infrastructure over $50 Million, plus waiver of sales tax on construction materials).  From the AJC:

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported Thursday that principal and interest payments could total almost $450 million over 30 years and that, according to one projection, another $450 million could go to the stadium over the years for operations and expenses. All of the money would come from the 39.3 percent of Atlanta’s 7-cents-per-dollar hotel-motel tax that is mandated by state law to go to the stadium project.

In light of those numbers, council member Aaron Watson said he would no longer characterize the public contribution to the project as only the $200 milliontoward upfront construction.

“I, for one, haven’t heard much discussion of what the entire amount is going to be over the next 30 years,” Watson said. He added he “had taken some comfort” in the $200 million figure but “had been nervous the number was actually more.”

Before this deal is done, it is important that all sides come clean.  First, when anyone mentions cost, they must drop this complete mis-direction of talking about the bonds that will be financed by tax dollars.

What taxpayers will be paying will be 39.3 percent of the 7% tax added to every hotel bill until the year 2050.  Whether the construction costs are financed by the State, the City of Atlanta, the GWCC, or the Falcons, the taxpayers ARE ACTUALLY PAYING 39.3% of 7% for 37 more years.  Those funds are dedicated by law, and are not changed by the terms of this deal. AND taxpayers are paying for land.  AND taxpayers will likely be paying for infrastructure in amounts that will exceed $50 Million.  AND taxpayers will be waiving sales tax on materials used in construction of this project.

Whether you support the merit of this project or not, there is no way anyone can in good conscience support a continued misrepresentation in the difference of what taxpayers are financing versus what taxpayers are paying.

And kudos to the AJC for finally reporting numbers closer to the reality of what taxpayers will be giving up for this monument to ego and personal power.

JB March 15, 2013 at 8:50 am

Not to mention, Charlie, the virtual certainty that season ticket holders will be subsidizing, via seat licenses, that share of the cost “borne” by the Falcons. Essentially a hidden tax on ~70,000 for the benefit of the remaining 5 million or so residents of metro Atlanta. It’s a perfectly rational move on the Falcons’ part, and there is merit in the argument that users (fans, in this case) should have to pay for what they get, but for the Falcons and the mayor to argue that this is a great and necessary thing for the entire region then basically forcing their captive customer base to pay for it is duplicitous. It will also continue the unfortunate trend in the US of pricing out “average” consumers from regular attendance at professional sporting events.

Bob Loblaw March 15, 2013 at 9:44 am

Hidden tax? How can someone hide a “tax” when they’re telling ticket holders 4 years in advance that PSLs will be part of the plan for the new stadium? I can understand Charlie’s point about some of these taxpayer-funded items being “left out” of the discussion as being somewhat hidden. But PSLs? First, they aren’t taxes-they are licenses. Second, they’re totally voluntary. You don’t have to buy season tickets to a football team’s home games. You do have to pay taxes.

As the bile-filled entries on this subject become more and more bitter, the effectiveness of them is waning. At some point personal attacks like “monument to ego” make one’s commentary less likely to move opinion and more likely to entrench positions and alienate others. Sorry, that was a bit much. When I think “monument to ego” I see the fall of that Saddam Hussein statue and the free Iraqis smacking their sandals on his face. Visions of the Berlin wall coming down. I don’t think a philanthropist, who became wealthy by building a retail empire based in Atlanta, providing jobs to thousands and who has given millions of dollars to help his fellow Georgians in so many forms should be accused of such.

WeymanCWannamakerJr March 15, 2013 at 1:06 pm

I’m just going to miss his “gift” of watching the home games on television.

seenbetrdayz March 15, 2013 at 9:27 am

Wait wait wait. I know how to fix this argument so people automatically support it.

“Something something jobs! something jobs!”

There, it’s done. The new stadium should be complete in a few weeks. Go falcons-jobs.

gchidi March 15, 2013 at 11:04 am

Let me just say that the key here will be to ensure that there are political, electoral consequences for the misuse of public money like this.

Mayor Reed thinks he’s safe. Reed might be right — he’s the most popular Democrat in this state, for whatever that’s worth. But his city council? Not so much.

Reed had 10 people standing next to him at that press conference. Pick the three weakest, and kick them right between the bank book. (Insert snide reference to “money shot” here.) I’m of the opinion that this is stupid and wasteful enough to merit recruiting and financing a Democratic challenge to someone who votes for it. This is rank corruption, incompetence and error.

Baker March 15, 2013 at 11:43 am

Amen George.

Yesterday was the finance committee meeting of the City Council and today the GWCCA is holding another meeting.

There is still time to get the truth out on this sham.

Keep up the great work Charlie and George tell me who to write a check to.

noparty March 15, 2013 at 11:47 am

No it isn’t. It is keeping the Falcons from moving to the suburbs, a development that would financially devastate the city if it happens. And the 3 weakest incumbents would have no time whatsoever explaining that to their constituents. I am sorry, but the folks who live in the city aren’t motivated by what constitutes fiscal conservatism to people who live outside the city. Just as the folks who live outside the city don’t spend very much of their time thinking about how to increase tourism revenue, property values and real estate development inside the city.

Forcing Blank to build his stadium in the suburbs with private funds would be a victory for fiscal conservatism in general, but terrible for the city of Atlanta specifically. At some point the people who vehemently oppose this for their own ideological reasons have to deal with that fact. And yes, it is a fact, no matter how many studies that you have read that claim that sports franchises don’t really have any economic impact. Let the Falcons (and the SEC title game and the Chik-Fil-A Bowl and a bunch of other major events) leave already struggling downtown Atlanta for Gwinnett and then do your study.

Charlie March 15, 2013 at 11:49 am

My god, the hyperbole.

noparty March 15, 2013 at 12:09 pm

But is any of it false? Or is anything that I said in my admittedly too long post below false? Do any of you even think about what it actually takes to run an urban area instead of a small city or suburb, or how large urban areas actually have to go out and compete in the marketplace for things like high-paying employers and tourists? Do any of you care?

Charlie March 15, 2013 at 12:19 pm

Yes, much of it is. But I’m not playing Blank PR machine games today. There won’t be a circular debate on your (false) version of the merits.

The only point on this thread is that the $200M total cost to taxpayers is a direct lie.

There will not be 20 other points of debate used to continue to cover up this point.

Debate with me the cost and prove me otherwise, or move on.

Al Gray March 15, 2013 at 1:40 pm

“The only point on this thread is that the $200M total cost to taxpayers is a direct lie.”

Yep.

This is from the HM tax Funding Agreement posted by GWCCA today to be voted upon today.

WHEREAS, it has been proposed that the Issuer issue its Revenue Bonds (New
Downtown Atlanta Stadium Project), Series 2014, in an aggregate principal amount of $_______________ [amount necessary to generate not less than $200,000,000 of available construction and development proceeds] (the “
Series 2014 Bonds ”) for the purpose of providing funds (i) to finance a portion of the cost of the development, construction, equipping and funding of a new operable roof……stadium to replace the existing Georgia Dome facility in the City

The funding STARTS AT $200 million!

Baker March 15, 2013 at 12:00 pm

I live in Atlanta and feel pretty confident that if there were a city referendum on this, it would go down about as well as the TSPLOST.

noparty March 15, 2013 at 12:11 pm

You may live in Atlanta, but your interest in Atlanta doesn’t go belong keeping your tax bill as low as possible, having good parks and public schools in your neighborhood (for the sake of your property values) and public safety in your own neighborhood. Anything and everything else is superfluous big government to you. Am I right or wrong?

Baker March 15, 2013 at 1:20 pm

You are wrong. For example, unlike a lot of folks, I was totally on board with the TSPLOST.

I don’t have a problem with this tax being collected. I have a problem with it being shoveled to a billionaire at such a rate that we can’t even put a number on it.

I don’t just want public safety in my own neighborhood. I want it in all hoods.

I want the sewers that courts demanded we fix years ago to finally be fixed.

You are right in that I believe government should have a limited role. That role includes safety, schools, parks, transportation, and some kind of limited social safety net. It most certainly does not include hooking a billionaire up with new office space.

gchidi March 15, 2013 at 2:23 pm

Your assertion that a move to the suburbs would “devastate” the city is questionable, at best.

A financial impact assessment made a couple of years ago when it looked like an NFL lockout was going to eliminate the season indicates that the net impact to the city would have been more like $6 million a year.

Six million dollars is not devastating. It’s somewhat less devastating than writing a $15 to $30 million check every year for 30 years to fund the construction and maintenance of the Falcons’ stadium. It’s particularly less devastating when one considers the $45 million hole in Grady Healthcare’s budget next year.

Chris Huttman March 15, 2013 at 5:39 pm

You know what’s really devastating? That starting in 2014, we are all paying federal taxes to cover that Grady hole, and that money won’t be spent to actually cover it, instead it will go to other federal spending and paying for hospitals in other states that aren’t as stubborn as ours.

And Charlie and a lot of other people on here don’t seem to mind that at all. As long as the Republicans in this state don’t expand Medicaid and take that money, they’ll pretty much be throwing away more money each and every year than the lifetime cost of the Falcons stadium deal.

And THE TAXPAYERS (their crying not mine) will be paying for it all but not just 39.3% of their federal tax increase will go to other states, a full 100% of it.

Now as far as other scary maths go, does anyone know what $200m borrowed over 30 years amortized at 6% interest adds up to … why $431,000,000. So is the AJC story really telling us anything new? If you buy a $200k house with 6% interest and pay it off over 30 years guess what…YOU MAY PAY MORE THAN $400K FOR THAT HOUSE. Scary. Except this is how debt works and every person and business and government in America makes this bargain with the future every day. This isn’t a gotcha, it’s math.

mpierce March 15, 2013 at 6:46 pm

The interest rate won’t be near 6%. Current Dome Average Interest Rate – 3.17%

seenbetrdayz March 16, 2013 at 8:39 am

One of these days you’ll learn that the $$$ that’s passed down from the feds to the states isn’t free.

I don’t want to go off the rails on a medicaid tangent, but a prime example is South Carolina when former Gov. Sanford opposed federal funding, with strings attached stating that SC couldn’t adjust its medicaid pool for changes in the economic environment. The SC general assembly decided Sanford didn’t know what the hell he was talking about and threatened lawsuits to get the $$$. The governor lost that fight.

Fast forward to today, and South Carolina has medicaid obligations which it cannot tamper with because it took the bribe money.

But Republicans—who can really consider themselves fiscal conservatives—don’t make decisions to burden the future with debt (what you refer to as ‘making a “bargain” with the future’, which is rather benign in those terms) based on quick gains.

I look at the GOP and I see a lot of talk about fiscal conservatism but no action.

I look at the Democrats and I see a plan that blatantly involves racking up debt and dying, leaving the next generation to just . . . deal with it.

Charlie March 16, 2013 at 12:23 pm

Sorry, again, you know better, and this is a deliberate threadjack. You’ve been around here long enough that you know how open threads work. You’ve even had front page posting rights. You know better than to do this, and you should also know me better than trying to use this way to start a conversation with me on the topic of your choice.

Any additional comments on medicaid expansion on this thread will be deleted.

Chris Huttman March 18, 2013 at 10:18 am

Whatever man. The comment right above mine that i was REPLYING to specifically brought up Grady’s shortfalls:

“It’s particularly less devastating when one considers the $45 million hole in Grady Healthcare’s budget next year.”

And my point is, if you’re really freaking out about bad political deals that Atlanta taxpayers can’t afford, there is much worse going on, and at the end of the day all dollars that Atlanta is short on are equal in value.

Al Gray March 15, 2013 at 11:40 am

Thanks, Charlie, for reminding everyone about this deal.

It will be a gift that keeps on giving, because there are so many delicious, absurd, and stunningly greedy aspects to it.

The legislature and others won’t escape this one without scorch marks.

noparty March 15, 2013 at 11:41 am

Hmmm … and the alternative to ego and personal power is what exactly? Arthur Blank taking the Falcons to the northern suburbs and the city of Atlanta proper – while nowhere near being “the next Detroit” isn’t exactly this huge booming bustling metropolis either – taking another huge hit. T-SPLOST, the MARTA battles, etc. have long proved that there is no “metro Atlanta.” There is the city and everywhere else. And the city has 435,000 people (meaning that it is not New York, Dallas, Philadelphia or Los Angeles where the city proper has 1 million people), a huge population of low income workers and other poor people (meaning that it is not San Diego or San Francisco) and a lot of its industry has either basically vanished (notice all the closed factories) or are being battered by consolidation and competition (the communications, software and tech sectors are never going to be again what they were in the 80s and 90s for example) plus despite the occasional movie or basic cable TV series being made there, the entertainment sector is also actually down from the 90s when the city was a major player in urban music and CNN/Turner were still actually headquartered there. The city is now working hard to remake itself as a hub for IT and healthcare, but it is just getting started and is going to take at least a decade before it matures into being anything like what some of the economic sectors that the city has lost were, and the economic sectors that other cities have. So again, not the next Detroit, but still a lot of problems, and that includes a metro region and a state government that is absolutely determined to give it as little help as possible for partisan political (and other) reasons, making Atlanta different from the large cities in practically every other state.

Add it all up, and Atlanta needs A) as much tourism revenue as they can get and B) whatever they can use to drive property values and development. Atlanta isn’t Miami or New Orleans. Tourists are going to visit those cities – as well as Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Boston, Seattle, Dallas, Nashville, D.C. etc. – in droves, sports teams or no sports teams because they have beaches, museums, historic sites, or other well developed natural or man made attractions to draw them. Well, World of Coke and CNN Center may have their charms, but they ain’t even the Grand Ole Opry, let alone Broadway. The aquarium is nice, but it doesn’t really draw out-of-towners. Just like no one comes in from out of town to see the Chicago Aquarium or the San Diego Zoo either. Those are just places that tourists go while they are in Chicago or San Diego. And as far as driving development and property values downtown or in any area that isn’t Buckhead or other parts of North Atlanta which is where most of the condos, office parks etc. are being built: got any ideas? If you do, please share them with mayor Reed and the city council.

Add it all up and fiscal conservatism – low taxes, low spending, supply side etc. – really doesn’t work in urban areas. It may be fine for states, nations, or suburban areas, but giving people a smaller tax bill and opposing nearly all spending that doesn’t have to do with public safety isn’t how you attract employers, entrepreneurs, developers and tourists to cities. The reason is that those things don’t spontaneously generate themselves and aren’t unlimited in number. You have a finite number of high-paying jobs (and the employers that create them), big spending tourists etc. and a city needs to have a reason to choose one place over another.

So, an entrepreneur isn’t going to locate his biotech company in an empty, desolate depressing downtown just because his tax bill is low and the mayor is a fiscal conservative. He is going to go take that startup to Seattle or Research Triangle Park. But in a redeveloped downtown where other yuppies like him have condos and places to hang out? That (plus Emory, Georgia Tech, Georgia State, CDC etc.) gives you a shot. Similarly, no tourist (unless folks coming in from Valdosta to go to Six Flags or Stone Mountain count, and those aren’t even in Atlanta proper anyway) is going to come there because there will be no reason to … there isn’t anything in Atlanta worth visiting that isn’t offered by other cities of any real size. But if that same guy is a sports fan, he will come see his Yankees, Steelers or whatever play the Falcons and Braves, or come see his Aggies or Tigers play in the Chik-Fil-A Bowl or SEC title game, and maybe stop by the College Football Hall of Fame (or World of Coke, CNN Center, etc.) while he is here.

Of course, if Blank builds his own stadium with private funds in Gwinnett, well then the tourism and driving development thing shifts there. Victory for Gwinnett, the “metro Atlanta area” and for fiscal conservatism. But how does that benefit Atlanta proper? It doesn’t. Instead, it is a crushing blow to the city, and even more so if the Braves (who are in fact also considering a new stadium and have considered Gwinnett in the past) follow. Now states and suburbs may be different, who knows, but cities have to spend money in order to get people who want to live in cities to choose their city to live and spend money in over others. And yes, for a small city (again, we are not talking about the metro area, but the less than 450,000 people in the city, because time and time again have proven that the city and the metro area are two distinct regions with differing populations, leadership, politics, goals etc.) sports teams do matter economically. You can cite all those studies that say otherwise if you want, but the truth is that if Atlanta loses its tourism, then you might as well pave downtown over and give it to Georgia Tech and Georgia State because nothing down there is going to have any economic value. And if downtown and south Atlanta don’t have economic value, exactly what is it that makes Buckhead and the rest of north Atlanta stick around? It would take them 5 minutes to secede and form their own city, and Jan Jones and the rest of the Milton County/reduce Fulton County to the size of a postage stamp brigade will be glad to have them.

Sorry, but those are the things that people who are trying to run growing, vibrant competitive cities, not stagnant glorified towns like Columbus, Macon and everything else outside metro Atlanta that passes for a city is, and not sprawling suburbs like the rest of the metro area is, have to do. Spend taxpayer money on transit, infrastructure, and other things that make fiscal conservatives recoil. Why? Because the people who can live in or visit Atlanta can also live in or visit pretty much any other city (not glorified town or suburb but city) and things like that are what those people want, and if a city doesn’t have those things, then they aren’t going to relocate their residence or business there, and they aren’t going to visit there and spend money.

So things like this aren’t about “what taxpayers can in good conscience support” but what urban taxpayers need to do in order to make sure that their urban areas stay urban. Maybe the taxpayers in Forsyth and Cherokee have their own issues, but the taxpayers in Atlanta need things like Grady, MARTA and yes the Falcons more than they need their tax money. And they are willing to pay it. If they weren’t, they’d already have their homes and businesses in Forsyth and Cherokee. As for the “there are better uses for the money” crowd, name them. Highways don’t benefit the city proper. They only benefit the suburbs. And MARTA politics makes doing anything on public transportation a counterproductive use of both financial resources and fiscal capital. Take this same $950 million and propose spending it on MARTA or the Beltline or parks, museums or anything else and the Republicans under the gold dome, who to a large degree control Atlanta’s purse strings, would freak out. So they have to do this and projects like it because things like this are the only things that they are allowed to do – and not, for example, expand MARTA to where it actually needs to go – by the state that would actually benefit the city. And the reason why the state will allow this is because Arthur Blank is a Republican and the CEO of a gigantic corporation headquartered in Georgia.

Sure, the state would allow the city of Atlanta to return this $950 million to the taxpayers in some supply side scheme. But make the case – using economics and examples of cities similar to Atlanta in size, demographics and economic conditions – that doing so would actually benefit Atlanta. Chances are people would use it to buy a few things off Amazon and pay a few bills, and while that is fine for the taxpayer’s wallets it wouldn’t do a thing for the city that the taxpayers live in, and while doing things for taxpayers is nice, it is a known fact that taxpayers will abandon an economically stagnant city for a growing vibrant one in a heartbeat. That is why cities are largely built on taking care of the city and letting the taxpayers take care of themselves.

You might not like those facts, but disliking them and changing them are two different things. And that is why no matter how many articles and blogs exposing “the real cost” of this deal runs, it is still going to pass, because the folks who actually run the city proper know that “the real cost” of not having the Falcons downtown will be much higher.

Baker March 15, 2013 at 11:44 am

jimminy christmas…when i have an hour or two, i’ll come back and read this….

noparty March 15, 2013 at 11:55 am

Sorry it was too long. But here’s the short summary: losing the Falcons to the suburbs would be devastating to downtown and Atlanta. Losing this tax revenue: no so much. The length of my comment was merely explaining why. If you disagree that losing the Falcons won’t harm Atlanta, then please read the comment before stating otherwise. If you agree that losing the Falcons will harm Atlanta but simply don’t care, then please understand why the mayor and council of ATLANTA have care more about than than the Club For Growth, Heritage Foundation, the American Enterprise Institute or CPAC does.

Charlie March 15, 2013 at 12:02 pm

“Sorry it’s too long…but it takes a lot of words to change the subject when the PR team pushing this is caught in a lie.”

There, fixed that for you.

noparty March 15, 2013 at 12:07 pm

See my comparison with Bush, Rumsfeld and the Iraq War below and tell me if you still think that it is fixed.

Charlie March 15, 2013 at 12:17 pm

I saw it. It’s simultaneously laughable and sad.

And a threadjack.

noparty March 15, 2013 at 12:21 pm

Not a threadjack. Just making a valid comparison and example. Politicians lie about the cost of their proposals (not just Obama about ObamaCare but Bush about Iraq) when they know that the cost can be used to defeat it. It is routine politics as usual. Reed knew that if he revealed the real cost of this project from the get-go, the Falcons would be on their way to breaking ground on their new facility in Gwinnett thanks to people like you. (I did not mean that in a perjorative sense in that I am calling you a bad person or anything. I honestly didn’t.) That might be in your interests, but I am still waiting on someone to tell me how it is in the interests of the city of Atlanta. No one has and that is the whole point.

Charlie March 15, 2013 at 12:32 pm

Yes, it is a threadjack, and no, we’re not going to get drawn into another discussion about the city vs. the suburbs today. If you want to continuing posting on this topic, you will stick to the point as it has been defined. This is not negotiable.

At least you admit the Falcons and the Mayor have been lying to us. If your opinion is that they did it to somehow protect us, that’s a great position for you to have.

Most of us, however, prefer those that lead us not lie to us so that we can be protected from ourselves while the elites take care of our greater good. …with our money.

noparty March 15, 2013 at 12:45 pm

I am not talking about Atlanta versus the suburbs. I am talking only about Atlanta. Period. Why am I talking about Atlanta? Because that is where the stadium is being proposed. If this stadium deal were being proposed for Cobb, Cherokee or Brunswick or Valdosta for that matter, I would hope that the same sorts of conversations would take place. Now I will direct you to my new comment addressed specifically to you below as my final word on the matter and wish you and yours a great afternoon and weekend.

John Konop March 15, 2013 at 12:36 pm

First, Charlie has been pro Atlanta, and not part of the group………Second, Charlie is right about 2 wrongs do make it……….Third, I get your point about the politics, and do think with some people (not Charlie) would spin it differently if it was out of Atlanta. Finally, I do agree with Bob, if they can sell the tickets, hotel rooms with an extra price, then so be it….The hotels and Falcons are at risk if they cannot pass the increase onto consumers…..

Charlie March 15, 2013 at 11:47 am

Multiple paragraphs of obfuscation will not justify this singular point:

The Falcons, The GWCC, The Mayor, and The Governor are deliberately misrepresenting the true costs to the taxpayers of this bill.

If it’s such a good idea and so easily justified, then let the cost-benefit analysis be against the true and total cost.

But if you’re going to lie to the general public about the costs, and you can be so easily caught in that lie, there’s really little need to continue to debate the other merits with you or anyone else. Because if you base your argument on one big lie, there’s no reason for me or others to try to spend the time and energy trying to take on the smaller lies and distortions in this campaign.

$200 Million is a lie. Period.

You guys start talking about the real number which is easily over $500 Million and possibly over a billion, and then I’ll get back into the other circular arguments you are using to try to justify this giveaway.

But until you come clean with the costs, that is all we will talk about.

noparty March 15, 2013 at 12:06 pm

@Charlie:

This is funny. The Bush administration deliberately misrepresented the true cost and length of time that we would be in Iraq. Why? Because they wanted the American people to support the war and the passage of the authorization of military force. So they claimed that the war could be fought for $350 billion and would be over in a couple of years because the Iraqi people would put all their tribal and religious differences behind them, join us as liberators and help us topple Saddam and build a new pro-western democracy. The people talking about the real cost and the likelihood of quagmire and factionalism were folks who opposed the invasion and occupation. Remember? And Bush also did the same about the costs of things like the Patriot Act, No Child Left Behind, TSA, Homeland Security and the MediCare expansion, remember?

So yes, Reed is doing what Bush and other politicians routinely do in order to pass measures. You are talking about the “real cost” no so much because you care about transparency and accountability in general – because if you did, then wow I am still waiting on you to or any other GOPer to produce opeds demanding investigations on the billions of no-bid Iraq reconstruction contracts that went to friends and contributors of Bush for work that was never done or done shoddily … you’d rather talk about Solyndra instead when it comes to crony capitalism it seems – but because you oppose this project and hope that by talking about the cost you can defeat it.

I am saying that it is worth $1 billion to keep the Falcons downtown because the alternative will cost the city far more than $1 billion. You believe otherwise. That is what this is all about. But the people who oppose this have no ideas for A) what the city is supposed to do when they lose the Falcons or B) what else the GOPers are going to let the state do with $1 billion dollars. You just oppose spending because that is what good fiscal conservatives are supposed to do, even if opposition to spending results in Atlanta having the size (and economy) of Mobile, Alabama or Jackson, Mississippi 15 years from now.

Charlie March 15, 2013 at 12:17 pm

So we’re now going to try to deflect this conversation to the Iraq war? Really? The Iraq war is what you want to talk about to deflect from this deliberate lie to the public about a cost of the stadium?

No.

Al Gray March 15, 2013 at 12:35 pm

I am not against public finance of this stadium.

Blank and the Falcons need to ante up $200 million to $250 million more. It is still a good deal for the Falcons at those numbers and a tolerable, but unfavorable, deal for the taxpayers if that sort of solid contribution is made.

Why do political “leaders” go into all such “negotiations” waving a white flag?

Jackster March 15, 2013 at 3:12 pm

Did anyone else just hit page down a few times?

Dave Allen March 15, 2013 at 11:53 am

So what is the projected revenue of 39.3% of the 7% Atlanta Hotel tax for 37 years? I’m guessing somewhere around 500 million.

Al Gray March 15, 2013 at 12:31 pm

Dave,

The HM tax has grown 2.7% per year on average for more than a decade. In FY 2013, it is up 7.49%. In the key Citi report on finance, they used 2.7%. At that rate the HM tax totals exceed $1.2 billion. At 4%, that number is $1.67 billion. At 4% growth, more than $450 million in bonds can be financed.

Right now the tax is bumping hard against $20 million a year. Quick math is 20 x 37 = $74o million with no growth.

More supporting documents than you probably need are linked to in my reports on my agraynation blog, which Charlie very generously linked to a couple of weeks ago.

noparty March 15, 2013 at 12:42 pm

@Charlie:

Look, it was never my intention to get into a running battle with you because you are a good, reasonable guy, plus I am certain that you have better things to do. So if it best suits this conversation to delete my extremely long and provocative comments then go ahead and do the right and productive thing.

My only pint is that losing the Falcons would be very bad for the city of Atlanta, and there is nothing comparable that Atlanta could do with that $1 billion, whether it is not spending it or spending it on something else, that would make up for it. For people who live outside the city it isn’t a big deal, but for the people who live in and run the city, it is a very big deal.

If you disagree with me, then please state how I am wrong. Not with pie in the sky supply side fiscal conservatism always creates economic growth (again, not attacking you, very serious) but actual policy proposals that have worked in other cities like Atlanta.

This is important, because I really don’t think that very many people spend a lot of time thinking about what benefits Atlanta. They either A) presume that Atlanta will always be fine (a bad assumption because Atlanta and the metro area in general weren’t, but instead benefited from a huge economic and population boom that started in the late 80s, and regions are just as capable of contracting as they are growing), B) think that it is irrelevant because the suburbs are the real driver of everything anyway (and even if that is true, it doesn’t help the city proper), or C) think that Atlanta’s decline is inevitable anyway because they don’t agree with the city’s politics. It is about doing something other than sitting around and waiting for Atlanta to elect a Republican or nonblack mayor, or waiting for evidence that Atlanta is going down the tubes because they refuse to elect anything other than black Democratic mayors.

Like it or not, this stadium is part of that discussion. Why? Because if the Falcons leave for Gwinnett, the Georgia Dome goes from being “perfectly fine” to obsolete and downtown and the tourism industry are seriously damaged to the point where all the enterprise zones and tax credits in the world won’t make a difference. That is the discussion that needs to take place, and it certainly looks like people are doing their best to avoid it. Including reasonable, thoughtful people like you. We have to get beyond the “Atlanta will always be fine” apathy on one hand and “Atlanta is going to be a mess regardless because it won’t elect leaders that I approve of” and talk about real issues on the other. If that conversation isn’t going to be had on the stadium or MARTA (and transportation in general) then when is it going to be had? Because otherwise all we ever hear about is folks trying to secede from Atlanta, Fulton and DeKalb because it is allegedly corrupt, dysfunctional and inevitably doomed.

Wow, I am getting too long again and I am sorry. But this really does frustrate me. Maybe this blog should be renamed from PeachPundit to “AllPeachesExceptThoseWhoResideInAtlantaProperPundit” because that reflects the actual mindset and content here, and that is a real shame for those of us who aren’t liberal enough for Creative Loafing.

Charlie March 15, 2013 at 12:45 pm

…And you’re doing it again and repeating yourself.

You do not apologize or cover up for a lie by saying that the project is worthy so we’ll just forget about the fact that everyone involved is diliberately mis-representing the costs.

Continuing to try to apologize for this fact by misdirecting the conversation back into the land of Falcons PR talking points and away from this lie is not sitting well with me, clearly.

Should you choose to try and explain yourself again by AGAIN repeating these same talking points will likely result in this being your last post with us.

Al Gray March 15, 2013 at 12:48 pm

In Atlanta’s Q&A from 3/14/2013 there is this whopper….

It is important to note that stadium operations, maintenance and capital expenses will
always be substantially higher than any projected excess hotel motel tax revenue in any
given year.

What they leave out is that Dome operations have been contributing $15 million per year in net income….which is a number in excess of HM revenues and all of those stadium operations, maintenance and capital expenses.

The Dome is getting that $15 million from attendance that is 60% non-Falcon.

Charlie March 15, 2013 at 12:49 pm

Could you elaborate a bit more on that and explain why this is significant?

Al Gray March 15, 2013 at 1:12 pm

Let’s look at the 2012 financial report. Here is the Dome P&L. Attendance is on the next page 19. The net income is $15.9 million. This is $15.9 million after the 39.3% of 7% HM tax, $18.8 million is covered.

Besides this factoid, within said report, the Dome got $6 million in food and beverage revenue (and it might be NET revenue at that) and $19 million in Seat/Suite License Fees (not net, probably $8 million to $12 million net) that goes over to the Falcons under the current agreement.

Al Gray March 15, 2013 at 1:14 pm
Al Gray March 15, 2013 at 1:18 pm

Also $4 million in advertising (which does not include stadium naming rights that the GWCCA consultant said would be worth $148 million over 20 years.)

Al Gray March 15, 2013 at 12:57 pm

If the Falcons leave for Gwinnett, the Dome gets to keep $20 million a year in HM tax and the 60% of its business that is non-Falcon. Venues won’t go to a stadium outside of town with outsized costs to boot.

The Falcons are not going anywhere. The numbers scream that to anyone who has looked at them. A separate stadium in the burbs will LOSE MONEY, ergo they won’t do it.

The public needs a tough negotiator. They are giving up far too much and giving into what is most assuredly a bluff. Put this deal back a year and save $250 million to $350 million when folks get real and offer something of substance.

This transaction is going to bring a world of grief to Georgia politicos, if it gets done this way.

Baker March 15, 2013 at 1:35 pm

Oh, and I forget about this nugget:
http://www.ajc.com/news/news/stadium-tickets-promise-raises-council-concerns/nWsGD/

“The city of Atlanta’s economic development arm would get free seats at some events at a new downtown stadium for the Falcons, a provision in the proposed deal that drew questions Thursday as key votes loom on the plan.

“Is this even legal?” councilwoman Felicia Moore asked at a City Council discussion of the stadium plan. She said the city can’t require event tickets in contracts and Invest Atlanta, a quasi-government agency that promotes economic growth, shouldn’t be able to either. “If I can’t get tickets they shouldn’t be able to get tickets.”

For some funny reason, I think if anyone on the City Council wanted tickets, they’d be able to get them, but kudos to my Councilwoman Felicia Moore for at least asking about it.

Nonchalant March 15, 2013 at 1:54 pm

It seems to me that Charlie has a choice here–he can allow free debate on a subject, including talking ponts he does not like, or admit Peach Pundit is his vehicle to push his preferred views on events in Georgia, and not really a free- flowing forum. Either is fine, and of course it is a private site, so as the proprietors will, but then the AJC is a private paper as well, and I do recall criticism of their bias regards race just a few days ago.

I will say “free-flowing discussion site” would probably get a little more credibility than “Little Green Footballs, Cracker edition”. Of course, if it is a cult one wishes….

And I say this because while I do appreciate the chance to post here, nothing in Charlie’s background in any way makes me feel ashamed of my own resume. Thus, I do not mind saying what I think.

Baker March 15, 2013 at 2:02 pm

huh?

Charlie’s point is that never in the entire discussion some of us have been having for three years on this topic, the Falcons/ Blank/ Reed/ Farooqui have never been honest about the amount of public money that will be going towards this project. At some point they just need to be called what they are, liars. If you obfuscate and dodge for three+ years, I think you are then just a liar and a coward.

John Konop March 15, 2013 at 2:24 pm

Baker,

Arthur Blank and mayor Reed have been good for Atlanta. Seriously, one has been a great owner of the football team, which cannot be said by all teams. Reed has been the best mayor of atlanta I have seen in the 12 years I have been in this area. Disagreement is fine, but your comment is very harsh. You are one of the smartest, and rational voices on the blog. And we tend to agree way more than we disagree on issues as you know. This debate does have shades of gray in it……………..

Baker March 15, 2013 at 4:06 pm

I agree totally with that statement. Arthur Blank and Kasim Reed have been great for Atlanta, and the debate does have shades of gray in it. The problem is we can’t even really have the debate because the four entities I mentioned, as well as the GWCCA and others, are purposefully leaving out details as to how much this deal actually costs. Like, a lot of details.

There’s a fantastic PJ O’Rourke quote I like to use: “Beyond a certain point, complexity is fraud.”

In this case, beyond a certain point, leaving out details is lying.

Baker March 15, 2013 at 4:14 pm

P.S. – Thanks for your other comments John.

P.S. #2 – I do agree that Arthur Blank has been amazing for the city, but I hate that line Kasim throws out all the time about how much he’s given to charity in the city. Like now we have to give it back? It makes no sense to me.

None of this makes any sense to me. I know that at the beginning kernel of this is “this is just the way that it’s done”, i.e. other cities/public funding etc, but particularly after the debacle in Miami and the level of revenue for the NFL, I think we all need to dare to posit that this is not the way it should be done anymore.

John Konop March 15, 2013 at 4:59 pm

All good points as usual!

Charlie March 15, 2013 at 2:06 pm

It’s fine to say what you think. But we also have established rules so that every discussion doesn’t become a free for all. The fact that you’ve made it clear you don’t believe you have to conform to those few rules has also been made clear. For a little while longer, it’s your choice to decide if you choose to continue to comment here. If you don’t want to abide by the terms of this community, then soon it will be ours.

That said, it’s not exactly like we haven’t had a free flow of debate on this topic. Anyone who understands the mastery of Google or that little search box on the top right corner can see that we’ve discussed this topic from may angles, and debated the Falcons PR talking points that “NoParty” wants to redirect this conversation to ad nausium.

Each time, and by design, lost in that conversation is what this stadium is truly going to cost taxpayers. That point will not be lost today.

If you don’t like that, and want to talk about all the other red herrings the Falcons/Mayor/GWCC/Governor want to keep throwing out, then go back to one of those threads and continue that discussion.

Otherwise, either decide if you want to be part of Peach Pundit or not. But you won’t be a belligerent part of it much longer.

Al Gray March 15, 2013 at 2:26 pm

It is very interesting that the Falcon’s cost structure for running the nearly-100%- taxpayer funded stadium is going to be so high that they have to put $3.5 million a year, escalated by 2% a year, into a separate fund to make what used to be GWCCA, Dome and Atlanta events economically viable. $3.5 million a year, escalated by 2% a year, reaches $184 million through the expiration of the HM tax.

Greg S March 15, 2013 at 3:58 pm

Either the truth matters or it doesn’t. How can we have an honest debate about this or any topic if the true numbers are obscured? I don’t have a stong opinion on rather or not the city should dedicated a portion of the HMT to building a stadium for the Falcons. I do have strong opinion on rather or not the truth should be told about it.

This like every other half truth is the beginning of a very tangled web about to be woven into the fabric of Atlanta.

Al Gray March 15, 2013 at 4:36 pm

Charlie has linked to this before. It has links to source documents. This whole project will be a gift that keeps on giving to a lot of people for the next 5 years, for better or worse.

gchidi March 15, 2013 at 5:08 pm

Al, are you talking with William Perry at Common Cause at all? I’ve been doing some work with them, and you’ve got the goods. Y’all should hook up.

Al Gray March 15, 2013 at 8:44 pm

Thank you. I have not contacted Mr. Perry. This came on the heels of a 15 month Augusta Project in which a band of researchers and activists battled a very, very similar escapade. This one is much larger. Politically, some folks didn’t step in a dung pile, they jumped into a sewage lagoon and decided to drink their way out of trouble.

Bob Loblaw March 15, 2013 at 8:50 pm

Common Cause is a little tied up at the moment. They’re trying to kill a bill to ban lobbyist spending on elected officials in the Senate.

Dave Bearse March 15, 2013 at 7:09 pm

Each guest at $100 hotel room with be contributing $3 to the stadium. Atlanta’s long awaited marketing slogan is at hand.

“Visit Atlanta and give a billionaire $3 for his stadium every night of your stay!”

saltycracker March 16, 2013 at 1:00 pm

It is a customary political process to obfuscate cost when the objective is “we want it, we need it, we must have it”, particularly when most of the cost is OPM or delayed/borrowed.

Top 3 lines ending in “I can’t loose (him, her, it):

1. Maybe my (significant other) drinks, cheats and beats me but……..

2. Maybe my (elected) is unethical but he votes my way so………….

3. Maybe it (insert stadium here) costs me too much but ………….

saltycracker March 16, 2013 at 1:10 pm

In fairness, costs are also obfuscated when something is a “must have”.

As I read pieces of the mass above I thought Charlie asked only that our politicians waive their positions of financial obfuscation and opt for a real accountability of costs.

Isn”t there an agency within the state that can do that ?

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