Local sports teams support the transportation referendum

Dream co-owner Kelly Loeffler, Falcons president Rich McKay and Braves vice president of business operations Mike Plant at the Metro Chamber of Commerce today. (D.Orlando Ledbetter/Dledbetter@ajc.com)

Dream co-owner Kelly Loeffler, Falcons president Rich McKay and Braves vice president of business operations Mike Plant at the Metro Chamber of Commerce today. (D.Orlando Ledbetter/Dledbetter@ajc.com)

Representatives from three of Atlanta’s pro sports franchises and the Atlanta Motor Speedway announced their support for the $8.5 billion regional transportation referendum at the Metro Chamber of Commerce on Monday.

(Here’s how Jim Galloway, author of The Political Insider blog, saw things.)

Falcons president Rich McKay, Braves vice president of business operations Mike Plant and Atlanta Dream co-owner Kelly Loeffler were on hand along with Atlanta Motor Speedway president and general manager Ed Clark. The Hawks also support the referendum, which, if passed on July 31, would fund 157 regional projects, including $600 million to maintain the MARTA rail lines in good repair.

McKay, who grew up in Los Angeles amidst their traffic woes, said the Falcons don’t want to see the area’s growth stifled because of traffic. Because the team only plays 10 games a season at the Georgia Dome, it’s not really an issue directly related to the team’s fan experience or ability to compete in the National Football League.

“This is about the region and how the region succeeds, grows and prospers,” said McKay, who stated that he has a 43-mile commute to Flowery Branch. “When you look at what Atlanta has done, we’ve been such a progressive city over time, always kind of marching forward. Here’s an opportunity for us to continue that. Our concern is that with a ‘Vote No’ we’ll kind of take a step backwards.”

The Dream also considers the transportation referendum as more of a community-based issue.

“We think this referendum really supports everyone, no matter if they are going to work, home, church or to school, ” Loeffler said.

They stressed the need to improve transportation throughout the metro region.

McKay noted that less than 25 percent of the team’s season ticket holder accounts are in Fulton County and less than 20 percent list Atlanta as their address. Football fans heavily use mass transit as 20 percent of the Falcons’ fans arrive via MARTA.

“There is no question that these projects impact that other 80 percent,” McKay said.

There are only seven other cities that have all of their major sports venues – football, baseball and basketball – within the city limits.

The Braves repeatedly hear that traffic is the No. 1 reason that fans don’t attend games more often. They also have a more regional fan-base. A total of 50 percent of their fan base comes from outside of a 50-mile area from downtown, according to Plank.

They also have a problem with the traffic surrounding their Class AAA Stadium in Gwinnett County.

““We know that traffic is a huge problem,” Plank said. “It’s this entire region.”

Braves fans and Falcons fans in general get bashed nationally for arriving late and leaving early, even for big playoff games. Super Fans in cities like Pittsburgh and Green Bay –– win or lose – stay until the game is over.

“It’s a little bit of a sad display of where our psyche is, 7th or 8th inning and the game is close — even in the postseason — people are of the mindset to get out of the stadium because they’ve got to beat the traffic. You don’t see that in too many other places in the country.”

Clark first arrived at the speedway in 1992, when Henry County’s population was between 30,000 and 40,000. It’s now over 200,000 and there are not enough roads parallel to Interstate 75, which leads to congestion even in the middle of the day.

Some of the critics of the referendum contend that it is just a roads and bridges bill and that the projects will not really help traffic or congestion. Other critics contend that more money should be shifted to mass transportation improvements.

“The commuter rail line that’s been proposed from Atlanta to Macon, is one of the things they’ve talked about it,” Clark said. “To do that in Hampton and bus people from where the rail station would be to the speedway; that would be helpful. Everything helps when you have 100,000 people coming your way into a community that may have 4,500 people or so like Hampton.”

About six to seven percent of the Braves fans ride MARTA and take a shuttle to the stadium.

“Ideally, we’d love to have mass transit run into the Stadium,” Plank said. “When you look at most of the brand new stadiums, that’s what they are doing. Our Band-Aid, as I call it, is one that has worked for a number of years, six to seven percent of our fan-base uses MARTA and the shuttle [bus] system.”

Despite that the referendum will not solve all of the area’s traffic issues, the sports teams are staunchly supportive.

“When you look at where we are compared to cities like Charlotte and Raleigh-Durham or other cities that are the same size or smaller, we’re behind the eight ball,” Plank said.

–D. Orlando Ledbetter, The Atlanta Falcons beat blog

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51 comments Add your comment

[...] man embedded with the Falcons, D. Orlando Ledbetter, did a far more thorough job with the topic. Including a photo. Outdone by the Sports Department [...]

don

July 2nd, 2012
6:16 pm

So, they support the largest tax increase in Georgia’s history, eh? Surprise surprise.

[...] Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Falcons joined the Braves, the Hawks, and Atlanta Motor Speedway to support a new sales tax.  A recent poll showed that 47 percent of likely voters oppose the one-percent tax, that 26 [...]

Beck

July 2nd, 2012
6:52 pm

Where are you getting your facts about it being the largest tax increase in the state’s history? Its a 1% increase in sales tax. SPLOST of this amount occur throughout the state all the time.

Delbert D.

July 2nd, 2012
7:53 pm

Complete nonsense. The public would be better served with providing Black Hawk service to and from Turner Field.

[...] Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog) [...]

BrittanyUnderwood82

July 2nd, 2012
8:20 pm

It is clear that Atlanta is in desperate need of transportation reform. Although this referendum is not a perfect plan it is a start. We have to be proactive in our decision process in GA to get our transportation system to where it needs to be.

PMC

July 2nd, 2012
9:33 pm

Hilarious, am I for it, sure, but these guys will do anything for a free publicly built stadium.

The transportation referendum should have been in 1970 though not 2012. We are decades behind the times in transportation

Bright Idea

July 2nd, 2012
9:58 pm

Vote “NO” on July 31. Only when I see 6 contractors digging with 0 watching on DOT projects will I vote yes. Now it is 1 digging and 5 watching.

[...] man embedded with the Falcons, D. Orlando Ledbetter, did a far more thorough job with the topic. Including a photo. Outdone by the Sports Department [...]

JC Boscan III

July 2nd, 2012
10:49 pm

Actually, it’s more than a 16% increase in the sales tax, not a “1% increase”. 16% is a LARGE increase and affects all income levels in our state. (current base rate is 6%; if you increase it to 7%, that is actually a 16.67% increase).

The DOT has been run poorly for many years, and they have been clever this time to make it APPEAR that they will not control the money. But, they will GUIDE the money. The money does not solve the biggest problems in our area — it tackles a few major areas such as 400 and 285, and a number of pet projects chosen by the local governments. BUT, it will not help downtown traffic, and the last time I checked, THAT is where our stadiums and arenas are located.

The politicians claim that our problems can be solved if we will just fork over a LITTLE more in taxes…. OH, please give us just one more penny!!! HAH.

[...] Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog) [...]

[...] Atlanta Falcons This entry was posted in Atlanta Falcons and tagged Local, referendum, Sports, support, teams, transportation. Bookmark the permalink. ← NFL fund awards $600,000 for free football camps (The Associated Press) [...]

Steve

July 3rd, 2012
6:14 am

The told us the Ga. 400 toll would expire and then they added 10 more years to it. No to SPOST until our governing bodies learn to tell the truth.

VOTE NO TO SPLOST

July 3rd, 2012
7:20 am

VOTE NO to a 16% INCREASE in Sales Tax !

too incompetent to suceed

July 3rd, 2012
7:26 am

The state and local government
is incompetent with the tax money they already have.

too incompetent to SUCEED

July 3rd, 2012
7:29 am

Throw the Rascals out !

too incompetent to SUCCEED

July 3rd, 2012
7:34 am

don

July 3rd, 2012
7:47 am

@ Beck; may I suggest you check YOUR facts? It is NOT a 1% increase. not even close. And this is the problem, uninformed voters. traffictruth.net

Teabaggers are getting desperate

July 3rd, 2012
8:12 am

16% tax hike? Fiction CAN be fun!!

nolen cox

July 3rd, 2012
8:50 am

Support of the tax is economics ignorance, it will soak up $18.67 Billion that cant be used for tickets or travel during a recession. Never vote yourself a tax, the government needs to cut its budget. The budget increases each year during a recession. Cut Government, Cut Taxes!!

D man

July 3rd, 2012
9:29 am

D Led, why did you bring politics into the sports section? Ok, I’ll comment- I’m voting NO for several reasons. Mostly because the billions of tax dollars that are collected today are being mismanaged so badly that I am not willing to give another penny. I’m already paying almost 50% of every dollar that I earn to taxes. That stinks! Plus, the government can not be trusted. Look at the GA 400 toll tax that was suppose to end when the road was paid for. Or several 1 cent tax referendums from the past that we’re supposed to end but our government kept them in place. Manage what we give today better and you have plenty to work with. Go Falcons… :)

Maynard Jackson

July 3rd, 2012
9:30 am

Teabaggers? Right, lib.

zgoldatl

July 3rd, 2012
9:50 am

Unfortunately I’m going to have to vote no as well. This bill doesn’t fix our regional transportation issues. There should be a commuter train from Atlanta to macon, and down to Savannah (with stops in between). There should be a rail line to Turner Field. I don’t want just a roads and bridge bill. And as someone else said, it is somewhere in the range of a 16% tax increase, not a 1%. I pay enough already. I would gladly pay more if I trusted it would help, but I don’t.
Vote no.

PMC

July 3rd, 2012
9:52 am

If you don’t vote for the SPLOST they are going to take it from you elsewhere. Just like school tax, vote down the SPLOST they will raise the millage rates. The money is spent. All we can do is change who is doing the lying every term.

The only good politician is a former one. If there is a road or a street or a building named after a politican it is undoubtedly a monument to thier corruption.

The fact of the matter is the state of transit in this city, especially mass transit is embarassing and decades behind every other major world city. If we want to grow, if we want to survive, we have to find ways to improve transit for everyone.

PMC

July 3rd, 2012
9:53 am

Regardless, it’s not going to pass anyway, and they will be forced to come up with another horribly flawed plan that fixes nothing.

That’s what this legislature does. Year in and year out.

PMC

July 3rd, 2012
9:58 am

Also, no one forced these stadiums to be built where they were. There was a perfectly decent neighborhood downtown in the 60’s that they destroyed to build Fulton County Stadium there. There was no real reason to build the Olympic Stadium and then Turner Field so far away from the closest Marta stop.

Political Corruption and utterly terrible sports management are as much a part of the city as the Phoenix logo or the Resurgens moniker.

D. Orlando Ledbetter

July 3rd, 2012
10:00 am

D man — My editor asked if I could go. I was sitting around the house, minding my own business and watching me some Springer. I said, “sure, I’m available.” So, I went and wrote this piece.

bo joe ellis

July 3rd, 2012
10:17 am

Some of you need to do your homework and read the law. Its a damn big tax like JC said.Its a new tax plus State will still collect the DOT road tax we already pay…How many More SP-LOST will we pass? You fixing to pay out our A@@ for healthcare tax (10 new taxes in all) READ THE LAWS! Enough!

bo joe ellis

July 3rd, 2012
10:19 am

PMC they can’t take it from you unless you “the voter” let them.

PMC

July 3rd, 2012
10:23 am

Seriously though, Braves, you had a brand new stadium as early as 1996. Why on God’s Green Earth did you decide NOT to build a stadium that included a mass transit train stop at the stadium?

That’s just mind numbingly stupid.

bo joe ellis

July 3rd, 2012
10:23 am

SPLOST= Stupid Peoples LOST

Thanks DOL for report.

bo joe ellis

July 3rd, 2012
10:27 am

Agree with you PMC about Braves Stadium and mass transit. The location sucks.

bo joe ellis

July 3rd, 2012
10:32 am

Agree @10:23 PMC.Braves location stinks

Angus

July 3rd, 2012
11:28 am

It just dumb politicking for the Braves to throw support behind the TIA. Also, you won’t hear about the Falcons new stadium again until after July 31.

I may vote yes for this thing, simply for economic growth in the area, but local sports teams playing cheerleader is insulting.

falconfan83

July 3rd, 2012
11:59 am

D Man, not sure where you get the “billions of tax dollars” that are being raised already…our motor fuel tax has only raised around $900 milllion the past few years…that money is then evenly split among 13 Congressional Districts, so you do the math. Metro Atlanta is left with no transportation funding. The I-285/GA 400 interchange alone will eat up that Congressional District’s transportation dollars for years..

If we don’t find the money somewhere to fund our own roads, we are in trouble. I will be voting yes.

Thanks D Led for covering this.

Bryan -- MARTA supporter

July 3rd, 2012
1:04 pm

You people are killing me with the 16% increase. All you are doing is dividing 100 by 6. That great that everyone can do math but again this is another tactic to distort the truth. The truth is it still only goes up one (1) penny on every dollar. That mean if we pay 1.06 for something that cost a dollar we would now pay 1.07; if we pay $106 we would now pay $107; if we pay $1060 now we pay $1070 after. I mean really, are how many people are really buying stuff that is over $1000 bucks every day? Heck for that matter how many are spending over $100 every single day? I mean if you are paying for something that is $1000 and ten bucks breaks the deal for you then you probably shouldn’t have been spending the money in the first place because you didn’t have it to spend from the start. Get over yourselves and vote yes so we can improve our cith and metro area!!

JC Boscan III

July 3rd, 2012
2:25 pm

OK – this is basic math. If your tax was .06, and it increases by .01 up to .07, that is a 16.67% increase in the tax. That is how math works! It is not an opinion — it’s math! If this plan addressed the downtown connector, and the other “top 10″ logjams, it might be worth considering for those who live or work in Atlanta. BUT, the project list does NOT address the Top 10. It is a mix of projects, and the funding is NOT even sufficient to cover the planning, construction, and maintenance of the projects. Our DOT is not exactly known for its effective, honest management of taxpayer money, as well.

Regarding the lack of MARTA rail at Turner Field, years ago one story was that the city leaders insisted for their own political reasons that the rail go through the West End area, not by the old Fulton County Stadium. That was a story on the radio years ago – hopefully, it wasn’t that type of political decision.

Tea Party Meber

July 3rd, 2012
3:32 pm

Tipical libtard logic. I will tell U this. If this tax hapens I will excercise my 2nd admendment rights.

Nuff said.

1998 Was Our Year

July 3rd, 2012
3:39 pm

I Hope it passes, ATL traffic needs all the help it can get!!

Lies Lies Lies

July 3rd, 2012
3:55 pm

Like many here I’m voting no to SPLOST as our government officials cannot be trusted. My guess is they’ve already spent $50-75M of our money just getting it to this point. Giving them open access to billions of dollars would be like asking a heroin addict to watch your stash for the weekend. I am amazed at the waste and poor decisions made by the DOT on a regular basis and refuse to give them carte Blanche on something as important as this.

Larry

July 3rd, 2012
4:11 pm

Always…ALWAYS vote NO to ant tax increase!.

You don’t teach an alcoholic to drink responsibly by giving him more alcohol.

You don’t teach a government to spend more wisey and reduce wasteful spending by giving them more of YOUR money. You’re just enabling more irresponsibility.

Lies Lies Lies

July 3rd, 2012
4:11 pm

Bryan- Your view is very trusting and simplistic. Keep in mind that the proposed tax will remain in perpetuity as the SPLOST projects will cost more and take much longer than our high paid officials and their high paid consultants ever thought possible. When the next crisis/issue emerges- schools, infrastructure, Falcons stadium, etc- the next proposed tax will be in addition to SPLOST. Eventually, it will be hard for Atlanta to attract new business, residents, or frankly keep those they already have.

[...] more here: Local sports teams support the transportation referendum | Atlanta … Segnala presso: This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged atlanta, atlanta-motor, [...]

let me buy the groceries

July 3rd, 2012
6:46 pm

Tax US to death
and give the crooked politicians a big bonus
for wasting OUR tax money.

hind tit

July 3rd, 2012
8:27 pm

Somebody explain to me why South Carolina gas is twelve to fifteen cents a gallon cheaper than Georgia all the time and they have better roads?

GaDawg

July 4th, 2012
10:24 am

You GOT to support T SPLOST otherwise the Owners will go broke, and the players will have to go to trading their Rolls & Bentleys ever 2 years instead of every year, And if the State does not pony up more of our tax money to build the Falcons a new stadium, Blank may move the team to Perry Florida. T SPLOST is a well thought out plan just like Obama’s green projects are.

D man

July 4th, 2012
10:54 am

@ D Led – sounds good, thanks for explaining.

@ falconfan83 – Respectfully, I was talking about the billions of dollars that we all pay for everything that is wasted away by our government. I should have said trillions. We need to audit our government. Oh wait, we can next election. We give them too much of our hard earned dollars to be forced to give more. They need to redistribute what we are already giving them to pay for road improvements. That is my opinion which is only worth one vote. NO!!! Go Falcons!!!

Shady

July 5th, 2012
12:17 pm

VOTE NO!!!! for TSPLOST….why would anyone care that the pro teams are in favor of this tax?
I’m a little bit offended this. Rich, what the hell were you thinking?

Shady

July 5th, 2012
12:37 pm