A partial quote from a blog post by my colleague Jim Galloway about Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed’s push for a new stadium for the Atlanta Falcons:
Among the reasons Reed cited for pursuing a new stadium, and why he is emphasizing his support:
“I believe we will be awarded a Super Bowl, and I think we have the best owner in America… .”
And my reaction to these particular rationales of the mayor:
Having a Super Bowl in town matters to two sets of people: Those who get to go to the game, and those who profit from its being here. The number of Atlantans who actually get to go to the game will be relatively small, and the most attractive estimates of the economic impact of the Super Bowl are almost always exaggerated. Officials in Indianapolis, site of the Super Bowl held last month, didn’t even try to pretend the biggest impact was really about money; rather, it’s about “image,” a kind of profit held in highest esteem by politicians and assorted other local poobahs.
Of course, “image” cuts both ways: Atlanta’s image in the eyes of the NFL after the last Super Bowl we hosted, the game in 2000, when an ice storm battered the city, was one of a city the hypocritical league did not want to revisit for its big game. At least, not until it was time to help one of its owners coerce taxpayers into buying him a new stadium.
Which brings us to Blank. The city may have scant incentive to spend upwards of $400 million of hotel/motel tax revenues on a stadium to replace — or just supplement — the 20-year-old Georgia Dome within, say, five years. But Blank can expect to make a lot more money from a new stadium.
Before investing that kind of money, it would be good to know exactly how much the Blank expects a new stadium to generate for his franchise. At $400 million for a stadium lasting 25 years — the apparent lifespan of a pro football stadium in this city based on our experience with Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium and now the Georgia Dome — we could keep the Dome, just give him $15 million a year and still come out slightly ahead. (Not that I’m advocating that kind of welfare, for the record; this is just for illustrative purposes.)
Given how many needs the city has, Reed might want to improve his sales pitch to his citizens.
– By Kyle Wingfield