Everyone wants a New Stadium/Arena

H/T to Greg Bluestein on Twitter for this one. Part of Clayton County’s SPLOST, that will be up for vote next week, is $35 Million for a new arena. It would seem that with the Falcons getting a new Stadium and the Braves Going to Cobb for another new stadium, Clayton County doesn’t want to feel left out.

The interesting thing about this, besides the “trying to keep up with the Joneses” aspect, is that Clayton County  wants to take $35 million and spend it on an Arena instead of the transportation infrastructure that it has previously stated it desires. Why is this different from Cobb? Well, Cobb, unlike Clayton, has been very vocal about it’s distaste for rail transit and some bus transit systems.

Clayton on the other hand has been vocal like DeKalb and Fulton about it’s desire for an improved transit (read bus rapid transit) infrastructure. This is also strange given that on the project list for TSPLOST this past summer was to re-open the Clayton County fixed route bus service.

But I guess that stadiums are more in rage today. Who needs basic infrastructure when you can have luxury?


  1. notsplost says:

    At least the residents of Clayton County will get to vote on building their playground for the 1%.

    We Cobb residents have to hope a judge looks favorably on the lawsuit filed yesterday to stop ours.

    • notsplost says:

      Perhaps it’s more like a playground for the 99%, then … but I digress.

      Not being familiar with the back story on the financing, maybe they’re going to get some private money to help, or maybe it is more of a civic center like the one Cobb already has (think gun shows and swap meets, not aging classic rock star concerts or minor league hockey games.)

  2. mpierce says:

    Clayton News-Daily (linked above):
    “Turner [County Commission Chairman] pointed out that the county would have an opportunity to have a unique multi-purpose facility because, he said, there are hardly any facilities on the southside that can compare to the Cobb Energy Centre.”
    “‘Now you can have a quality four-star or five-star event center on the southside’…’It’s got to be quality,’ he said. ‘We’re not doing that subpar stuff anymore.'”

    From Wiki: Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre was $145 million.

  3. atl_man says:

    You are not going to see me defend Clayton County’s government in general because in less than 10 years Clayton County was transformed from being a safe, well run suburban/rural haven for middle class home and business owners to being a complete and total mess. I remember the AJC running an article a few years back about how some black political activists held regular planning meetings on coordinating their attempts to exploit the demographic changes by oust the local longtime and very honest and capable white (nonpartisan/nonideological and often Democrat) leadership, including using completely unsubstantiated and generally false charges of racism. Before this, Clayton County was actually one of the best places in the metro area for black households earning between $40,000-$100,000 to live: good schools, plenty of affordable housing (including nice apartments and starter homes on sizable lots), plenty of parks/recreation, some decent restaurants/shopping, low crime, low taxes, good government services, a lot of black businesses/churches and even a couple of black-run private schools. And look at that place now. Sure, some of it was stuff like the airline industry problems after 9/11 (including Delta), the dot.com and real estate busts and the 2 big recessions, Atlanta redirecting their public housing tenants into section 8 homes in Clayton but the same things should have affected other southside counties just as badly. But Henry, Fulton, Coweta, Fayette, Douglas, Carroll etc. are all doing fine. The main difference is the leadership, and no it is not just Victor Hill and the loss of accreditation (though that was part of it).

    That being said, please do not compare a civic center to a stadium, OK? It is ridiculous to do so. You have counties that are nowhere near the size of Clayton that have bigger civic centers than Clayton is planning on building. So, the only real issue is that Clayton could probably do some better things with the money. Except what? Transportation was mentioned, but Clayton needs to decide whether to join MARTA or not before they do anything like restart their bus service or anything else. Most of the other stuff mentioned: a Boys and Girls Club, sidewalks, bike paths and improvements to roads … would have no real impact on the county. Bike paths when the county lacks the young, upwardly mobile population that is into biking, for example? It shouldn’t be spent on education (unless it is something like building magnet schools for the district’s brightest and hardest working students) unless/until the county’s educational governance problems are solved.

    So you are left with the civic center and something that could attract jobs like a research/industrial park. Something that could benefit from their proximity to Hartsfield and I-75 that would allow them to compete for projects like the Procter and Gamble warehouse/distribution center: http://www.bizjournals.com/atlanta/real_talk/2013/12/procter-gamble-expands-in-metro.html?page=all

    I personally would opt for the research/industrial park, especially something that could leverage the professional talent produced by Clayton State University, but a civic center wouldn’t be a horrible option if they are already going to spend the money.

  4. Dave Bearse says:

    Another difference between Clayton and Cobb with respect to transportation is that the state is preparing to spend $830 million on a transportation infrastructure project in Cobb.

    • atl_man says:

      That’s because Cobb is far more important to the economy than Clayton. There is a difference between spending money on infrastructure in a place that is already economically significant and throwing money at a place hoping to drive economic development that may or may not ever come. If Clayton wants that sort of investment, then they need to lure a ton of Fortune 1000 companies as well as tens (hundreds?) of thousands of people making 6 figure salaries.

      I don’t have a big problem with the GDOT under Deal. Yes, they are throwing the 0.83 billion at Cobb, but they also have major projects in the works in Gwinnett, DeKalb, Henry and yes even downtown Atlanta (the MMPT, which is not popular AT ALL with Georgia’s Republican base, mind you, which is why they talk about it as little as possible).

      Clayton County could solve a lot of their problems by ending the dithering and just joining MARTA already. They decided to kick out the white nonideological nonpartisan good government crowd who did a great job running that county for decades with no justification, so they might as well seal the deal by joining MARTA so they can at least make living in a county with no jobs attractive by giving people the ability to ride public transportation to places where there actually are jobs. It’s a long shot, but a lot better than anything that bunch has come up with since running off the white folks for no good reason.

      • Dave Bearse says:

        I like what you bring to this forum.

        There are about two dozen Fortune 1000 companies headquartered in metro Atlanta. You’re right that Cobb’s Fortune 1000 companies (three Fortune 500 and at least 2 others in the Fortune 1000, so I’ll guess six) vastly out number Clayton’s (I think) one (and that one is attributing Delta to Clayton, though the actual office is a few hundred feet within Fulton County).

        As to no jobs, the overwhelming majority of those jobs are indeed in Clayton Co.

        I don’t know that the MMPT, it’s sole transportation element being a new consolidated bus terminal and not necessarily much additional service, counts as much of a transportation investment.

          • Dave Bearse says:

            I’ve no doubt the MMPT will accommodate future rail, but there’s no rail in the current picture.

            Principal commuter rail planning nearing a decade old and there’s not even any planning for the forseeable futue. I don’t expect Atl-Chatt HSR planning will go anywhere. Circumstances won’t allow the MMPT to serve existing SC-Atlanta-AL Amtrak service.

  5. MattMD says:

    Clayton County is about as relevant as Georgia State Football.

    I hate the fact that I have to even drive through it.

  6. Jon Lester says:

    And the working poor who depended on bus service will continue to struggle. How often will any of them make use of a new civic center? I’d be all for helping get these folks the rides they need on election day, because the leaders they thought were working for them, really aren’t.

    • atl_man says:

      Well $35 million doesn’t come close to what it would take to revive Clayton County’s bus service, and even getting Clayton’s bus service going again would do very little good because all you would do is ferry people around an area with a declining economic base. It would get senior citizens to their medical appointment and teenagers to what’s left of their mall, but that’s about it.

      If you want to help the working poor and the middle class in Clayton, then just expand MARTA out there. That would get buses going all over the county and actually connect that county to Fulton and DeKalb.

      • Jon Lester says:

        I guess the reason nobody in authority has proposed that is it would make too much sense.

        At one time, I actually thought about moving to Palmetto, just inside Fulton County on the Coweta side, because it would have meant small town living on the MARTA bus line, but that got yanked a few years ago, and I don’t think it’s been restored.

        • atl_man says:

          Well, Clayton County’s old guard didn’t think that they would ever have an economic need for MARTA (because their local economy was strong) plus they wanted to remain suburban/rural. They had no desire for urban life and wanted to keep things the way they were. I have no problem with that; their not wanting in cannot be compared to Cobb and Gwinnett for instance.

          Clayton County’s new leadership claimed to not want to take on MARTA’s debt load, but their real aversion would have been the undertaking itself. It would be controversial, expensive and complex and if not done right disastrous. And that’s what irks me about Clayton’s new leadership. They want the power, the position, but not the responsibility. It is all about being a big shot with a fancy title and having perks, not getting things done or helping people. No real ideas of their own, and no incentive to enact the good ideas come up with everybody else. That is how the school board situation spiraled out of control. Everybody saw that slow-moving tragedy building for years, but no one wanted to take charge of it because no one wanted to be the guy that everyone went to and held accountable.

          Here’s the deal: a nonbinding referendum on joining MARTA already passed years ago by a longshot. And Eldrin Bell’s plan to try to get public transportation into Clayton without MARTA lost in the county big time, and in the subsequent election Bell and all of the MARTA foes on the county commission board all lost, big time, and replaced with a slate of people who CLAIMED to either support MARTA or be willing to consider it. And what have they done in all this time? Nothing because they don’t want the headache either.

          It is difficult to blame people who get sick of stuff like this and move to Cobb or Gwinnett.

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