Updated at 12:55 p.m.: See new material below.
Original: Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed says he doesn’t view removal of funds for a College Football Hall of Fame from a proposed state budget as any barometer of state Capitol enthusiasm for a new, publicly financed stadium for the Atlanta Falcons.
“I don’t take any message from it at all,” Reed said. “I know that the governor is committed to the stadium effort, that the Falcons are committed to it, and my message is real clear. We’re going to honor our commitment to be completely supportive to building a stadium. And that’s where I am.”
The mayor spoke about the a new Falcons stadium at the tail end of an interview about voter approval for a renewal of an essential sewer sales tax.
Reed says there’s still much negotiation to be done – and that he’s not likely to be deeply involved in those talks:
”The other parties can go on and work on their part of the equation. I’m only speaking for me, and what I have responsibility for, and that is the city’s contribution through our hotel/motel sales tax. [We] are going to completely support [owner] Arthur Blank and the Atlanta Falcons.
“Now, are there moving pieces? I’m not playing a significant role in those conversations. The governor and the Falcons are in conversations – and the Georgia World Congress Center.
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….
“No city that has engaged in a game of chicken with an NFL team has emerged from it well. If you look at San Francisco, for goodness’ sake, the San Franscisco 49ers stadium is now going to be in Santa Clara. Santa Claire is not Gwinnett. I rode it. It’s an hour and 15 minutes away from the city of San Francisco. “
A 75-minute trip? That is Gwinnett at rush-hour. But you take his point.
By the way, a spokesman for Nathan Deal says the governor isn’t directly involved in talks with Blank, but has been kept apprised of the situation through the GWCC authority.
Updated at 12:55 p.m.: My AJC colleague Jeff Schultz, on the sports side of this equation, says that when he equates a new stadium with a Super Bowl berth, Kasim Reed isn’t making a promise that can’t be kept:
Cities with new stadiums in NFL almost always get Super Bowls. It’s dangled as perk/carrot for local governments to approve taxes to build shining towers with martini bars that NFL likes. So this isn’t unusual. Among cities that have been awarded Super Bowls because of new stadiums: Houston; Detroit; Phoenix (Glendale), Dallas (Arlington), Indianapolis.
Super Bowl week is more of a vacation/party week for owners/sponsors/celebs than a sports event, so they want nice weather (Los Angeles, San Diego, Miami, Tampa, New Orleans). Owners swore off Atlanta after ice storm last time it was here. (They lucked out with weather in Indy this year.) The Atlanta Sports Council used to regularly bid for Super Bowls but they knew it was a lost cause so they don’t even try anymore. But a new stadium would change that.
On a related note, I covered a Super Bowl in Minnesota once. The Metrodome was about 10-years old at the time I think. The game was awarded mostly as a reward to Vikings’ long time owners. But it was miserable. Nobody ever went outside. Everybody walked everywhere in those downtown pedestrian tubes. It was like living in a Habitrail.
The Marietta Daily Journal has this on the husband of state Rep. Alisha Thomas Morgan, D-Austell, who is deeply involved in the state Capitol fight for charter schools:
Cobb school board vice chair David Morgan said Wednesday that he didn’t know board members were kept out of the loop about the partnership and grant application with STEM Inventors Academy.
The school board spent about 30 minutes of Wednesday’s six-hour work session talking about the district’s partnerships and Race to the Top grant applications with STEM Inventors Academy and Teach For America. Most of that time specifically was spent on the charter school, why it was not formally presented to board members earlier and Morgan’s association was with the school.
The Savannah Morning news is reporting that Gov. Nathan Deal probably won’t give a proposed Hutchinson Island convention hotel the tax break it says it needs to succeed:
Deal signed legislation calling for such help, but has worried out loud it might give some businesses a leg up over others.
Tourism officials and others have long sought to promote a large hotel that would attract bigger gatherings to Savannah.
But the idea of using tax dollars for such a venture in competition with existing hotels has sparked sharp dispute.
…The law lets $1 million-plus new tourism attractions and expansions of existing ones that draw at least 25 percent of their visitors from other states to get sales tax refunds.
In Washington, the defense industry has begun letting Congress know that December will be too late to address the across-the-board cuts mandated by last year’s failure to reach an agreement on debt reduction.
“Industry really can’t wait until the lame duck session [to make preparations for the $500 billion dollar defense spending cut], and that is certainly true, it’s true in my company and it’s true in all the companies [in the defense sector,” said Lockheed Martin CEO Robert Stevens, referring to the post-November election session of the current Congress.
At an Aerospace Industries Association-sponsored lunch on the Hill, Stevens warned: “The very prospect of sequestration is already having a chilling effect on the industry. We’re not gonna hire, we’re not gonna make speculative investments, we’re not gonna invest in incremental training because the uncertainty associated with $53 billion of reductions in the first fiscal quarter of next year is a huge disruption to our business.”
A New York Times piece on the muted response in Afghanistan over the massacre of more than a dozen civilians by a U.S. soldier starts thusly:
The mullah was astounded and a little angered to be asked why the accidental burning of Korans last month could provoke violence nationwide, while an intentional mass murder that included nine children last Sunday did not.
“How can you compare the dishonoring of the Holy Koran with the martyrdom of innocent civilians?” said an incredulous Mullah Khaliq Dad, a member of the council of religious leaders who investigated the Koran burnings. “The whole goal of our life is religion.”
- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider