Some questions for those pursuing a new Falcons stadium

Gov. Nathan Deal recently said “there’s got to be a little further explanation to the public, and probably to the members of the General Assembly,” as to why tax dollars should be used to replace the Georgia Dome before its 25th birthday. He’s right.

That explanation must come from the Georgia World Congress Authority, the state agency that runs the Dome, and/or the Atlanta Falcons, the loudest voice calling for the Dome’s replacement with a $1 billion, retractable-roof stadium. About $300 million of that cost would be paid by Atlanta hotel/motel tax revenues, but only if legislators and Deal agree to raise the authority’s bonding limit. The Falcons and the NFL would cover the rest.

I’m hardly naive about the ability of powerful people to get what they want, and Falcons owner Arthur Blank no doubt qualifies as just such a person. So does Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, who backs the project. And I’m hardly a supporter of ditching the Dome, as I’ve written before.

But if the GWCA and the Falcons decide to heed these admonitions and make their case publicly, here are two questions they might answer.

Why now?

The Dome opened just 20 years ago and has undergone at least one significant renovation. I attended two football games there just last year — and plan to be there again for next month’s Southeastern Conference football championship — and can attest it’s a fine place to watch a football game.

So far, the primary rationale for the proposed timeline of opening a new stadium by 2017 is that’s when the bonds for the Dome will be paid off. Well, that and the fact the Falcons believe they can make more money from a new, more modern stadium, and would like to start doing so ASAP.

But the Falcons’ profitability is of little concern to Atlantans, and we aren’t required to have debt obligations tied to a stadium every year. There are many ways the city could use several million dollars a year even if it the money were freed only temporarily.

(Yes, using the hotel/motel revenues for other purposes would require a change in state law. So would raising the GWCA’s bonding capacity.)

Even if we accept the need for a new stadium at some point, there’s the question of why tax dollars should help fund it. Which leads to: What’s in it for taxpayers?

The economic benefits of stadiums notoriously tend to be exaggerated. And it’s not as if we don’t already have a domed stadium in Atlanta, so the benefits of a newer stadium are even less obvious.

One intriguing aspect of a new stadium, from a fiscal perspective, is the possibility it would host more events. The tentative terms agreed to by the GWCA and the Falcons call for the state to own the building while the Falcons “operate” it.

In theory, this means the Falcons, as a private entity, can take more financial risks than a state agency should in recruiting performers and events. In theory, this means the new stadium would be used more days of the year than the Dome, bringing in more money.

But how many more? Leading to how much more money? How much money could we expect to come from out of town — rather than from locals who would simply spend less elsewhere in our region?

How much business could nearby hotels, restaurants and other establishments expect? And, in turn, how much might this boost city coffers to offset the tax revenue devoted to the new stadium?

Stadium skeptics won’t be satisfied without answers to these kinds of questions. Let’s hear them.

RELATED POSTS:

– By Kyle Wingfield

Find me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter

193 comments Add your comment

Glenn Beck

November 19th, 2012
8:39 pm

CC

I live in Atlanta, but didn’t vote for Reed. Nor did I vote for Deal.

Did you vote for either and will you vote for them again if (when) the “Deal” is made for the new stadium?

Glenn Beck

November 19th, 2012
8:44 pm

cc probably voted for Deal and will gleefully do so again……. regardless of the “Deal” that will come down on the stadium

CC

November 19th, 2012
9:06 pm

I lived in the City of Atlanta for only about eight years, and lived in the metro area for another eighteen years. I didn’t vote for Reed since I wasn’t living there when he ran for election. I did not vote for Barnes because my memory of his previous term was still too good. I don’t know who I’ll be voting for in the next gubernatorial election since no candidates have yet announced.

I do not now live near Atlanta and will never live in the metro area again.

Dusty

November 19th, 2012
9:07 pm

I like Gov. Deal. He’s doing a good job.

Hires smart professional people from GEORGIA to fill jobs.

Will not put the state in debt so the Feds must set up their own expensive version of “free” healthcare.

Has asked for more information on a “new stadium” which is NOT a confirmation

Goes about business quietly and efficiently without rancor or pomp while .ignoring the mudslingers.

Has worked for a sensible budget that can be followed.

Resigned from US Congress but NO indictments have followed him.

As far as I can see, Gov. Deal is doing his very best for the state of Georgia. .

Glenn Beck

November 19th, 2012
9:14 pm

If a “Deal” is struck for a stadium, will you vote fro him again?

It is going to take his blessing as well as some other influential Republicans for this to go forward. The city of Atlanta hardly has the only say so

Gary

November 19th, 2012
9:17 pm

CC, it is the way it works. If they can make more money some where else, they will go. It is all about profits, just like any other business.

Gary

November 19th, 2012
9:22 pm

This is why the rest of the country makes fun of Atlanta as a sports team. Atlanta does not back their teams. And we may soon lose them all.

Gary

November 19th, 2012
9:23 pm

Sports town*

CC

November 19th, 2012
9:25 pm

“It is all about profits, just like any other business.”

Exactly my point, Gary. Why should the taxpayers support a business? It is Blank’s business, so let him pay for the stadium. He is then free to either take it with him if the Falcons move, or sell it at whatever prive he can get.

Hillbilly D

November 19th, 2012
9:25 pm

That is Atlanta sports in a nutshell, the teams are here just long enough to get good and then we run them off.

The Braves and Falcons have both been in Atlanta since 1966. That’s 47 years each and the Hawks have been in Atlanta almost as long. That’s not exactly running them off.

Dusty

November 19th, 2012
9:27 pm

Glenn Beck,

Why are you so interested in other people votes? I thought voting was a private privilege done in protective booths for secrecy.

If someone wants to keep their choices to themselves, that is their privilege. Quit snoopin’, willya?

CC

November 19th, 2012
9:28 pm

Can’t type tonight! Should be “price” onstead of “prive”.

Eric

November 19th, 2012
9:29 pm

Why can’t Mr.’s Blank and Reed, and others, be content with what we have? There are clearly other civic (rather than private) priorities needing taxpayer support right now.

Glenn Beck

November 19th, 2012
9:30 pm

Dusty

I will ask the questions I want to ask, capiche?

Whether you or anyone else answers them is another issue.

Thanks for the comments.

Glenn Beck

November 19th, 2012
9:33 pm

Dusty

When it comes to politics, quit being so naive, “willya”?

If you think Deal will not strike a deal when it is all said an done, no wonder you post the senseless blather that you do.

:-)

Dusty

November 19th, 2012
9:35 pm

You are welcome, Glenn Beck.

I will also ask the questions I want to ask , capiche?

Why so touchy?

Dusty

November 19th, 2012
9:39 pm

Senseless blather because I ask you a question?

I believe this is Kyle’s blog. Not yours.

Hillbilly D

November 19th, 2012
9:53 pm

Why are you so interested in other people votes? I thought voting was a private privilege done in protective booths for secrecy.

It’s not anymore, at least not where I vote. When I first started voting, you went in a booth and it had a curtain on it. Now, you have the touch screens and the partion isn’t even up to shoulder level on me. All you have to do is just look, if you’re inclined to see how the person next to you is voting. That’s progress, I guess.

Glenn Beck

November 19th, 2012
9:56 pm

Dusty

Learn that lesson about Kyle’s blog. You seem to tell others on a frequent basis about going elsewhere.

Hypocrisy and irony is certainly your cup of tea

Tiberius - pulling the tail of the left AND right when needed

November 19th, 2012
10:08 pm

Glenn Beck, I suggest you stop trying to teach Dusty anything.

You don’t even comprehend English.

And you whine when called out on it.

Dusty

November 19th, 2012
10:09 pm

Hey, Hillbilly, no peek-a-boo over the partitions!

Actually, I never even noticed the height of those separations and I’m tall. I guess some designer believes that voters are not curious. That IS progress

My polling place is in a school house. No cheating on the answers but erasures are allowed.

Getting late. Goodnight.

Dusty

November 19th, 2012
10:18 pm

Tiberius, \We need to hear from you more often but it is a busy season and…. a nice one. Thanksgiving!

Goodnight..

Glenn Beck

November 19th, 2012
10:20 pm

Tiberius

I suggest you go back and read my ealier post telling you that your thoughts mean nothing to me.

It is evident that you are bitter and still crying over the election.

Predident Romney you posted several times.

Hahahahahahahahah

;-)

Glenn Beck

November 19th, 2012
10:23 pm

President

But you get the jest.

;-)

Cathy

November 19th, 2012
11:34 pm

I support this new stadium

Richard

November 20th, 2012
5:37 am

Better yet Kyle, we should learn from the Miami Marlins and never allow something like this to happen… ever!!!

Ol' Timer

November 20th, 2012
5:44 am

The taxpayers have no more business building Mr. Blank a new stadium than they do building Walmart a big new box store down on the corner. He’s a businesman. If he wants a new stadium for his team, then he should build it.

Baker

November 20th, 2012
6:33 am

Lil' Barry Bailout - OBAMAPHONE!!!

November 20th, 2012
6:39 am

Glenn Beck, why so emotional?

Lil' Barry Bailout - OBAMAPHONE!!!

November 20th, 2012
6:42 am

We already have a really nice, modern stadium that draws lots of folks downtown, fills hotel rooms and restaurants, and generates tax revenue. To make the economic argument for a new stadium, backers need to show that it would INCREASE economic benefit to taxpayers over and above what the existing facility does. That seems like a difficult thing.

It’s the ego, stupid.

@@

November 20th, 2012
7:49 am

Why do I loathe emoticons?

Exhibit A

Insults with a smile?

iggy

November 20th, 2012
8:21 am

The “city of Atlanta” was once a cool place, a great kept little secret, but now its just another big city cesspool/outhouse.

CC

November 20th, 2012
8:36 am

iggy:

I believe it’s too late to flush . . .

Lil' Barry Bailout - OBAMAPHONE!!!

November 20th, 2012
8:39 am

iggy, that must have been before 1981. By that time, there were pockets that were nice and safe (Midtown, Buckhead, Virginia Highlands) but those have been wrecked now too.

CC

November 20th, 2012
8:47 am

LBB:

I lived in the City of Atlanta from 1973-1981. 1981 was the year I left for the suburbs, and I felt then that I had waited one year too long!

Tiberius - pulling the tail of the left AND right when needed

November 20th, 2012
9:11 am

So Glenn Beck continues to have poutrage, but no coherent response.

Got it.

fair and balanced

November 20th, 2012
9:18 am

Cons in state government love to tax tourists and give Blank and the Falcons hundreds of millions of dollars in state money. After all Blank and the Falcons are not part of the 47% who do not deserve free stuff.

Dusty

November 20th, 2012
10:16 am

Where’s Kyle this morning? I bet he’s somewhere trying to get a ticket to the SEC Championship game. Go UGA!! Even that is more fun than fussing over an un-needed stadium (a “turkey” we do NOT need) So what’s next?

Ahhh….the weather! I think Thanksgiving is going to be a pretty day!! Yay ! That’s a day we DO need a real turkey. Have you noticed that turkeys are cheaper per pound than chickens? How about that? I bet Hillbilly’s neighbors (the eighty thousand chicks) are proud of that. Yes!!

Tiberius - pulling the tail of the left AND right when needed

November 20th, 2012
11:27 am

Already have our fresh (not frozen) turkey in the fridge, Dusty. 21.88 lbs of pure eating pleasure beginning Thursday afternoon.

Lil' Barry Bailout -Vote American

November 20th, 2012
11:31 am

Sir Paul McCartney wants folks to give up turkey at Thanksgiving, so we’re having both turkey and ham.

Bite me, food Nazis.

Hillbilly D

November 20th, 2012
11:33 am

The taxpayers have no more business building Mr. Blank a new stadium than they do building Walmart a big new box store down on the corner. He’s a businesman. If he wants a new stadium for his team, then he should build it.

Preach on, Brother.

I bet Hillbilly’s neighbors (the eighty thousand chicks) are proud of that.

The chickens and the turkeys are safe this year; the ham’s thawing now. Got a nice flock of wild turkeys living in my neck of the woods now. I’m hoping they’ll get well established and maybe in a few years, I can eat one or two of them a year.

Dusty

November 20th, 2012
12:04 pm

wow, this crowd eats GOOD!

Tiberius is going to eat almost 22 pounfs of turkey!! Lil Barry is going to eat turkey AND ham! Hillbilly is attacking a ham and plans to run wild next year.And I am going to throw in Manichevitz and Claxton fruit cake to top my feast!!

Yes, sir, it is going to be a great Thanksgiving and I think we’ll all be greater. By ten pounds each at least! We can worry about that next weekend..

Bill

November 20th, 2012
12:13 pm

For once, I agree – in principle. However, we need to be careful about how we frame the question. There is a lot of evidence that cities building a stadium to attract a team is a bad deal. The equation here however is whether we should help build a stadium to keep from losing a team. If we lose the Falcons, to we lose a critical component of downtown attractions which will tip the scales against vitality? I don’t pretend to know the answer, but we need to be sure we are asking the right question.