Atlanta taxpayers have ’stadium fatigue’

By Kasim Reed

The Atlanta Braves have a 47-year tradition in our city that has endeared many of us to our hometown team, including me.
I still believe the Braves belong in the city of Atlanta.
But it’s become clear to me that our taxpayers are suffering from “stadium fatigue,” weary of public financing of private stadiums, particularly where there is no clearly defined revenue stream to pay for them.
Although these stadiums are positive for business development, I would not saddle   Atlanta taxpayers with a burden  between $150 million to $250 million that would require the city to backstop the debt.
Those who say I pushed hard to keep the Falcons in the city are correct. But the public financing for the new Falcons stadium is derived from an existing revenue stream of a hotel-motel tax paid for largely by visitors to the city. The hotel/motel tax also contributes $8 million to $10 million a year to the city’s general fund.
Let’s be clear, the Falcons stadium is a direct source of revenue for the city, which helps us pay our police officers and fire fighters, as well as a broad range of other city services. If the Falcons had moved, the hotel-motel sales tax would have gone away and so would that annual revenue.
No such funding exists for Turner Field. The city would have needed to find that money, at the expense of resources for a $900 million infrastructure backlog for sorely-needed work on our roads, bridges, street lights and green spaces.
I am pleased that the Braves have found a partner willing to finance a new stadium with a $300 million commitment of public funds.
I look forward to traveling the 12 miles to our neighbor Cobb County on Opening Day 2017 to watch the Atlanta Braves make more amazing memories.

Kasim Reed is Atlanta’s mayor.

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