It was an event made for the TV cameras more than print reporters, but the Metro Atlanta Chamber’s offices in downtown Atlanta served as a venue for the city’s biggest sports executives declare themselves in favor of the transportation sales tax.
Among the heavy-hitters:
Ed Clark, president and CEO of Atlanta Motor Speedway; Kelly Loeffler, co-owner and co-chairman of the Atlanta Dream basketball team; Rich McKay, president and CEO of the Atlanta Falcons; and Mike Plant, executive vice president of business operations for the Atlanta Braves.
No representative of the Atlanta Hawks attended – except for the team’s mascot, Harry the Hawk. Who was joined by other felt and foam creatures.
For the sports executives, it was all business. Said Plant of the Braves:
”I hope you’ve been to a lot of our games. It’s a little bit of a sad display of where our psyche is – 7th or 8th inning, the game’s close, even the post-season, people’s mindset is to get out of the stadium ‘cause I’ve got to beat the traffic. You don’t see that in too many other places in the country.”
Plant says he’s eying an item on the project list for the T-SPLOST that would help fans get to northbound I-85/75, just past the state Capitol, a little quicker after the game.
Homer, the mascot with a giant baseball for a head, nodded sagely at his boss’ observations, much like Mark Block used to do when Herman Cain made a stirring point.
Loeffler of the Atlanta Dream said she is more concerned with late arrivals to Philips Arena:
”We would love to see fans get there for the national anthem. We think that’s an important part of the game. We think player introductions are important. We think fans like other fans to be there. When they arrive, we don’t want them to feel that the bad traffic was part of the fan experience.”
Loeffler said a third or better of Dream fans don’t arrive until two minutes into the second quarter.
Before the session broke, I asked McKay of the Falcons whether he thought it fair that opponents of the penny sales tax for transportation were also wrapping current negotiations over a new home for the football team into their criticisms. Said McKay:
”These are two completely separate issues. One is a hotel motel tax and is a continuation of a tax that’s been in place and used to build the Georgia Dome. This is a referendum tied to a sales tax. Totally different. One is a regional solution that’s trying to deal with a long-term issue of traffic, and the other is trying to deal with the long-term home of an NFL franchise.
“So I can’t see where the two issues could be lumped together, or should be lumped together.”
Our 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 again.
- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider