Your Daily Jolt: ‘Cool but not icy’ Falcons stadium reaction

After the Georgia World Congress Center Authority approved the outline for a new $1 billion downtown stadium for the Falcons on Monday morning, word spread quickly to Athens, where state legislators are holding their biennial summit. The AJC’s Greg Bluestein was on the scene and he described the reaction as “cool but not icy” as he surveyed lawmakers, who would need to vote to approve raising the GWCCA’s debt limit. From Bluestein:

House Speaker David Ralston said the stadium’s supporters need to make a forceful argument about why the new facility is needed – and he doesn’t think they’ve made that argument quite yet.

“This is more than about the Falcons. And because of that, we have to proceed very carefully,” Ralston said. “It’s a tough economic climate and for the state to undertake any sort of investment, I think we have to move cautiously.”

State Rep. Ed Lindsey, an Atlanta Republican and one of the House’s leading lawmakers, said he has to be convinced the stadium meets the Congress Center’s economic development mission and he needs a commitment that the state won’t be on the hook to repay any bonds that fund the project.“In terms of infrastructure improvements, a lot of other projects are ahead of a football stadium,” he said.

State Rep. Harry Geisinger, a Roswell Republican, said he would likely be voting in favor of the project based on its economic development potential.

“When you look at all the facets of the issue and realize that most of it will be paid for by Arthur Blank – and in the end we [the state] will own the stadium – it’s a good deal and it will bring a tremendous amount of tourism to Georgia,” he said.

“Some are taking a kneejerk position asking what the government is doing,” he said. “But what the government is doing is providing jobs and revenues.”

Democratic leaders, meanwhile, suggested they were equally cautious about throwing their support behind the deal – at least for now.

“This investment is a very large economic responsibility for the citizens to take on,” said House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams. “I’m currently agnostic about it. But we have a lot of critical issues to take on this year and we need better information to make sure we understand the proposal.”

One lawmaker who has long since made up his mind is state Sen. Vincent Fort, an Atlanta Democrat who is one of the most outspoken critics of the new stadium proposal. He worries that the state could be on the hook for costly off-site infrastructure improvements, and fears that the process hasn’t been transparent enough.

“I think it’s a problem that all this is behind closed-doors,” said Fort, whose district includes parts of downtown Atlanta. “I’m just burned up that the public and the media have been excluded from the conversation.”

Taxpayers are expected to pony up $300 million for the project, but as today’s AJC piece notes, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed has said there could be another $200 million worth of infrastructure improvements in the area.

***

Count Zell Miller among the new stadium’s supporters. In a Marietta Daily Journal op-ed, the former governor and U.S. Senator calls it a good deal for Georgia.

Based on the Georgia Dome’s track record, the return on the state’s investment in a new stadium will be more than significant.

There is no doubt the Georgia Dome has proved its worth. Our focus now is on whether we will continue to be recognized as the sports capital of the South and a premier tourist destination. Is it worth a $300 million investment for a $1 billion dollar asset that will be owned by the state and publically funded by a hotel-motel tax that is paid for by tourists, not residents?

I say “yes.” The time has come to cast an eye to the future. This is a great deal for all of Georgia, and we can’t afford to pass it up.

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Sen. Jeff Mullis (Johnny Crawford/AJC)

Sen. Jeff Mullis (Johnny Crawford/AJC)

Want to have lunch with state Sens. Jeff Mullis and Judson Hill? It will only set you back $1,000. The AJC’s transportation guru Ariel Hart obtained an email invitation to the fundraiser for the Transportation Committee chair and Senate Caucus vice chairman, to be held Thursday at The Blue Ridge Grill.

Proceeds from the “Private Lunch Transportation Roundtable” less than a month before the session begins go to Hill’s campaign. Is this a sign of Mullis making moves now that his friend Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle is back in power?

(Updated 9:47 a.m. — previous version incorrectly stated which campaign got proceeds.)

***

Monday’s Tom Price for Speaker rumors caused quite a stir around the Georgia and national media and blogs. A Price spokeswoman sort-of shot it down by saying Price “is not running for Speaker.” As NRO’s Robert Costa points out, he did not write that Price was running in the present tense, but could run in the future. As for Costa’s contention that leadership is worried, two separate top leadership aides told me Monday that they are not concerned about Price. Take from that what you will.

House Speaker John Boehner showed his strength last month when the candidates he was backing won the conference chairman post (beating Price), and the conservative Republican Study Committee chair (beating Rep. Tom Graves of Ranger). For that support to collapse, Boehner would have to seriously anger the right. Cue Dave Weigel from Slate:

Boehner can engender that anger with either 1) a bad deal or 2) an early deal, which looks bad, because more could have been negotiated with more time.

So we’re all here until New Year’s Eve. Yippee.

- By Daniel Malloy, Political Insider

For instant updates, follow me on Twitter, or connect with me on Facebook.

77 comments Add your comment

An observer

December 11th, 2012
10:26 am

There are many better uses for this money than a stadium.

Shar

December 11th, 2012
10:28 am

A billion dollar stadium to replace a perfectly good one so that a billionaire can charge more for seats.

Seats that are predominantly bought by corporations and then written off, so the bill for the corporate titans’ entertainment partially falls to the taxpayer.

At a time when we are struggling to make tax revenue meet basic needs on both a state and local level.

“Some are taking a kneejerk position asking what the government is doing,” says the state representative.

And they think that “improving communication” will restore voter trust in government.

tan

December 11th, 2012
10:36 am

Seriously?!? Here’s a big “F U” to all the crooked and corrupt a-holes who voted for this! I wish I had no conscience like you morons and could be bought off as easily!

Living With Open Eyes

December 11th, 2012
10:37 am

We need to hurry up and build this new stadium to provide jobs for Atlanta’s illegal immigrant population.

HAHA

December 11th, 2012
10:38 am

Boycott the Falcons.

Taxi Smith

December 11th, 2012
10:38 am

If you’re going to build it, for God’s sake put it somewhere easier to get to! Anywhere!

GaBlue

December 11th, 2012
10:43 am

Imagine the angry screams of “Socialism!” if they wanted to spend a billion in taxpayer dollars to build public schools and hospitals. Uh, schools and hospitals employ people year round, by they way, and provide services we actually need, but that’s not how the wannabe aristocrats who run this state want us to live.

catlady

December 11th, 2012
10:52 am

We can’t afford a full school year for Georgia’s children, but we can provide the backing for a billion dollar stadium so millionaires can make more money entertaining their millionaire friends, who will write off the expense as business expenses, thus “allowing” the common folks to pay increased taxes to make up for those business writeoffs. Humm. I would say the reception should be Antarctica-type cold.

Auntie Christ

December 11th, 2012
11:03 am

Trying to be objective, I googled “publicly financed sports stadium” hoping to get the pros and cons of the public benefit compared to public cost. I encourage everyone to do the same. What you’ll find, at least from about the first 20 results which is what I went through, everyone from Bloomberg Financial to sports writers have nothing positive to say about any benefit to the public accruing from these deals. It is typical republican big business interests who love nothing better than public risks, private profits, which is what these deals entail. They scream about ‘creeping socialism’ every time some measure helping the disadvantaged, the sick, the unemployed is put forth, but suddenly go into karl marx mode when a billionaire asks their assistance in creating more wealth for himself at the expense of the public.

Their selling point is that we will ‘create jobs,’ which is true. We are going on the hook for $300 M to create several hundred jobs for a year or so. Then , they crow, we’ll eventually own the stadium, a great deal, getting a $Billion stadium for less than half that. Except the stadium won’t be a $B stadium when we take it over. It will be 20-25 years old, in need of repairs and upgrades and arthur blank will be tugging at our sleeve threatening to leave town again if another stadium isn’t built.

SBinF

December 11th, 2012
11:05 am

The Ga Aquarium cost $300 million to build, and it sees upward of one million visitors a year. Can’t we see some sort of data on the economic benefit of the $300 million taxpayer investment in a new stadium versus the $300 million (not from taxes) that was spent to build the aquarium?

yuzeyurbrane

December 11th, 2012
11:14 am

The only problem with Blank, Zell Miller, and other supporters’ arguments re economic benefit is that all objective studies to date have cast doubt on their alleged “facts” re positive economic benefit for anyone except Arthur Blank, and the cadre of politicians receiving pricey perks. Most of their alleged benefits would remain if the Dome remained. Further, the cost allocations already show that it is at least a $1.2 billion project counting infrastructure costs rather than the $1 billion figure being bandied about and the mix would therefore be 58% private, 42% public rather than the 70/30 being claimed. The $200 in uncounted infrastructure costs would not be paid by hotel tax but would be paid by local taxpayers—i.e. Atlanta. As to the claim that the hotel tax is painless because almost all is paid by folks from out of state, I would first have to see a link to the studies they say exist; I have read descriptions of other studies that disagree. There are a lot of Georgians who stay at hotels in Atlanta. Second, a tax is a tax and no matter who paid it, the legislature could as easily approve a redirection of its proceeds to more important infrastructure priorities. Or even just eliminate it and help the local hotel industry by reducing what it has to charge guests. After all most conventions could give a hoot about a stadium or would be perfectly happy with the Georgia Dome and Atlanta would be better able to attract them by lowering our hotel rates. It kind of reminds about promises to remove the toll on GA 400 after the bonds were paid. Even though I have heard Arthur will have heavy alimony payments with the divorce from his 2nd wife, it is hard to feel terribly empathetic. Just say no and let Arthur Blank build his new investment at his own risk at a site he purchases. It is called free market capitalism.

Bob Loblaw

December 11th, 2012
11:34 am

@Auntie Christ:

Who is going to be on this hook, exactly? Do you frequent a lot of Fulton Co. hotels or something?

For all of those crying that there’s “nothing wrong with the Georgia Dome,” you’re partly correct. However, visiting NFL stadiums around the country will quickly let you know that our Falcons play in a place that’s behind the times.

Georgia will own it, the Falcons will operate it and Georgia let’s visitors pay 30% in order to own it.

Sorry, I’m still looking for the “bad” in this deal.

liberalefty

December 11th, 2012
11:54 am

socialism for millionaires and billionares…i bet AUTHUR BLANK voted for LESS GUVMENT ROMNEY TOO…the sanctimonious hypocrites…IF this money was used to build more schools thye crooked repubs would be hollering about socialism..

Rawmilkdrinker

December 11th, 2012
11:58 am

The state will own the current Georgia Dome when the bonds are paid off The same Georgia Dome that Blank and Goodell don’t think is good enough to play an outdoor sport in.

As for the Dome not being as fancy as others, do fans go to see the game or to admire the facility? I live in a 1500 square foot house that is not as fancy as a lot of houses but it’s solid, warm in winter and cool in summer, and PAID FOR ten years ago

clem

December 11th, 2012
12:03 pm

where is an independent (if there is such a thing in today’s world) cost/benefit report to read?

Auntie Christ

December 11th, 2012
12:08 pm

Bob Loblaw
December 11th, 2012
11:34 am
@Auntie Christ:

Who is going to be on this hook, exactly? Do you frequent a lot of Fulton Co. hotels or something?
***********************************************************
No, I don’t frequent FC hotels, but if I co-sign for my neighbor’s car loan, I’m on the hook for the payments if he doesn’t have the revenue to make them. That is how I’m on the hook, exactly.

Reality

December 11th, 2012
12:09 pm

When a LARGE percentage of voters clearly say NO to a new stadium, the politicans had better listen to the voters rather than to the lobbiest or whomever pays money ‘under the table.’ Otherwise, those politicans will be unemployed the next election cycle!

liberalefty

December 11th, 2012
12:14 pm

reality

this is a one horse town{republican} DEAL and his cabal of crooks know this..

Reality

December 11th, 2012
12:14 pm

Bob Loblaw,

Much of what you write is your opinion – and you entitled to that. However, here are some facts…

1. The GA Dome is only the 10th oldest in all of Pro Football. This is rather young.
2. The GA Dome is not even paid for yet. The State of Georgia still owes a LOT of money on it.
3. The Chicago stadium – soldier field – is over 80 years old. How can anyone call the GA Dome old in comparison?
4. The Georgia taxpayer will still be responsible for a lot of money associated with this (yes, “on the hook”). We will have to pay for the new roads, the new sidewalks, the new rail system, etc.
5. The LARGE majority of Georgia voters do not want a new stadium. This alone should be enough to say no.

Enough said!

honested

December 11th, 2012
12:14 pm

At a time when even George Will publicly acknowledges the permanent, deadly dangers of NFL Football, we have tentacles of government ready to capture taxpayer funds in order to build a new palace for the gladiators so the taxpayers can be part of the ‘joint and several liability’ chain.

How stupid are the powers that be in the State of Georgia?

honested

December 11th, 2012
12:17 pm

And, if the un-paid-for Dome is so ‘behind the times’, let the plutocrat(s) who own the team break their current lease and build what they want with their own money.

Football is not a government function nor a human necessity!

Ostrich Racer

December 11th, 2012
12:19 pm

“Want to have lunch with state Sens. Jeff Mullis and Judson Hill? It will only set you back $1,000.”

Kissing them on the mouth will cost you an extra hundred, though.

Leftinthesouth

December 11th, 2012
12:27 pm

How about we let the deal go through if Marcus commits $300 million to retrofit the Ga Dome into affordable housing lofts for the middle class who can’t afford to live intown?

Church of the painful Truth

December 11th, 2012
12:28 pm

It is a done DEAL!!!! Everyone forget about your voice or concern.It should be voted on,but it was approved behind closed doors two years ago.Welcome to how the few decide for the majority.Money,money and more money.Let the good times roll.

GaBlue

December 11th, 2012
12:49 pm

“…the politicans had better listen to the voters rather than to the lobbiest or whomever pays money ‘under the table.’ Otherwise, those politicans will be unemployed the next election cycle!”

In theory.

The reality in Georgia is that these slimy crooks get reelected year after year, no matter what they do. People aren’t paying attention. Most don’t even bother to vote unless it’s Presidential election, and then they vote Republican “on principle” regardless of the facts, which are mostly unknown to them. Sure, there are primary challenges, but they happen in the summer, and few people bother to turn out for those elections either. Furthermore, primary challenges usually consist of one slimy crook trying to take the seat of another, for his own personal enrichment.

The reality is that we get the government we deserve, or more accurately, we get the government the crappiest, least-involved citizens among us deserve.

Puerile Pedant

December 11th, 2012
12:58 pm

When the Georgia GOP and Arthur Blank agree on a deal it will be the City of Atlanta taxpayers and the city’s hotels that will foot the bill — not the rest of the State. That’s what you get when you have a blue democratic City in a giant red GOP Sea. But the State will end up owning the stadium even if its all paid for by squeezing those inside 285.

Life wasn’t meant to be fair; but does it have to be so expensive?

clem

December 11th, 2012
1:08 pm

arthur and others are buying votes….they have the money to influence government leaders hellbent on getting reelected

Whiny Libs

December 11th, 2012
1:13 pm

Whaaaaaa, whaaaaaaa, whaaaaaa. I no happy that they build stadium. I a big cry baby. Whaaaaaaaa.

ANGRY AS HELL

December 11th, 2012
1:13 pm

As far as I’m concerned, if the deal falls through and the Falcons threaten again to leave Atlanta, I say ” Buh-bye.” Who cares? Why should the public pay the freight for these multi-million dollar professional sports “businesses.” As Auntie Christ has correctly noted, this is just another example of corporate welfare. We’ll spend $300 million of tax revenue for the Arthur Blank’s $1 Billion project, but we’d never think of putting that kind of money into our sorry highways, education system or medical care for kids. No, let’s just give the money away. There’s not a damn thing wrong with the Dome, but because “little Artie” wants a new one, well, everyone has to dig deep. Bah, Humbug !!!!

clem

December 11th, 2012
1:16 pm

make the deal interesting and only go with new stadium if falcons win superbowl.

Ernie Q.

December 11th, 2012
1:19 pm

Seriously, why don’t you commenters get a life? See ya down at the all the great football and soccer games in the fantastic new stadium in a few years – unless you’re too busy finding something else to complain about.

Auntie Christ

December 11th, 2012
1:32 pm

Whiny Libs
December 11th, 2012
1:13 pm

Whaaaaaa, whaaaaaaa, whaaaaaa. I no happy that they build stadium. I a big cry baby. Whaaaaaaaa.
*******************************************************
Shouldn’t you be over on wingfield’s blog or drudge’s, or hannity’s crying about the election results. Those sites need valuable input like yours if they are to convince people that Acorn stole the election.. Hurry on now.

Kris

December 11th, 2012
1:32 pm

Agreed this boondoggle stadium is a Done DIRTY CROOKED SHADY DEAL for the tax payers.

So much for state’s immigration law out the window for stadium’s Atlanta’s illegal immigrant population.

To you GOP’s slime balls remember 2014 will be here real soon. You too shady.

Get over it, naysayers

December 11th, 2012
1:41 pm

I’m looking forward to a new Falcons stadium paid for by Blank (70%) and tourists (30%). If you don’t attend Falcons games, you have no reason to complain. This is hotel/motel tax revenue that can only be used on tourism, and a brand new, world class facility will certainly boost tourism. The real issue is that many of those complaining are anti-Atlanta. Enjoy watching the games safe in your cul-de-sacs while the rest of us have fun in Atlanta, the greatest city anywhere.

Smelly Hippie

December 11th, 2012
1:41 pm

This is obviously an example of the evil 1% exploiting the rest of us. Trying to build a new stadium for everyone to enjoy. How dare they! My college professor told me that anything a rich person does is automatically horrible. Some day when the corporatists are defeated and we progress to a vegetarian farming society, we can look back on these days of oppressive technology, progress, jobs and hygiene with a sense of relief that we escaped all that. I can’t wait!!!

Logical Dude

December 11th, 2012
1:44 pm

State Rep. Harry Geisinger, a Roswell Republican, “what the government is doing is providing jobs and revenues.”

Well, can’t the government find better things to create jobs and revenues than to tear down a perfectly good stadium and rebuild another one?

THAT’S THE ISSUE.

Reality

December 11th, 2012
1:45 pm

Don’t you love it when the idiot conservative republicans cannot think of anything of substance to say? All they can say is not to whine. They have no facts, no true basis for opinion, and nothing of value to contribute….

td

December 11th, 2012
1:46 pm

All I hear is libs on here day after day complaining about how corrupt the politicians are. If you think they are so corrupt then why do YOU all not run for office? What is your excuse?

Stu Pidasol

December 11th, 2012
1:50 pm

I agree with most of you. This stadium will be the end of the world. The end is nigh! The end is nigh!

Call It Like It Is

December 11th, 2012
1:51 pm

“For all of those crying that there’s “nothing wrong with the Georgia Dome,” you’re partly correct. However, visiting NFL stadiums around the country will quickly let you know that our Falcons play in a place that’s behind the times.”

Behind the times??? Hmmmm the Packers have been playing on the same field since 1957 and have 4 rings. The 49’s have been playing on the same field since 1971 and have 5 rings. Tell you what how about the Falcons wins a couple of rings than we talk about it.

td

December 11th, 2012
1:53 pm

As far as the new stadium goes, it is an investment not a welfare project. There is a big difference. The money is invested in a building for a pro sports team and that money creates jobs for local residents (not only at the stadium but also in the restaurants, hotels and other entertainment venues) and the money is paid back to the state.

Now welfare is like Medicaid. We (the taxpayer) pays for the health services of the poor and in return all they do is have their hands out for additional money. No return on our investment.

BTW: If we let a professional team leave then the taxes paid by all those millionaire athletes leave as well and where are you going to make up those tax dollars?

Logical Dude

December 11th, 2012
1:54 pm

Get over it says “a brand new, world class facility will certainly boost tourism”

How? How would a single new tourist come to see a new stadium? Isn’t it the events INSIDE the stadium that attract the tourist?
Now, think about that. What new events would this new stadium hold that the current stadium cannot?

clem

December 11th, 2012
2:00 pm

i wonder how many conventions will not come here because of hotel tax? is there an analysis of the whole issue that is published and somewhat trustworthy? or do we not need no stinkin’ analysis?

curious

December 11th, 2012
2:02 pm

td
“Now welfare is like Medicaid. We (the taxpayer) pays for the health services of the poor and in return all they do is have their hands out for additional money. No return on our investment.”

Disagree.

Investing in the health of our citizens will pay dividends in the future. This is a long term investment.

Reality

December 11th, 2012
2:03 pm

@Logical Dude –

I can tell you what the Georgia republican government is doing…. They are taking the bribes hand over fist to approve whatever Arthur Blank and the Falcons want – to heck with the people.

td

December 11th, 2012
2:04 pm

Logical Dude

December 11th, 2012
1:54 pm

Get over it says “a brand new, world class facility will certainly boost tourism”

How? How would a single new tourist come to see a new stadium? Isn’t it the events INSIDE the stadium that attract the tourist?
Now, think about that. What new events would this new stadium hold that the current stadium cannot?

Let us think about it for a minute indeed. Superbowl (almost guaranteed). World cup soccer? Continued SEC championship game (Jacksonville and Jerry Jones at Dallas stadium are clamoring to at least rotate the game). Making a bid for the new College football playoff? More concerts? Future political conventions?

Now how much potential money are you willing to throw away?

Rock Gaines

December 11th, 2012
2:06 pm

The NFL is a $9 billion business. I agree that the Georgia Dome does not need to be replaced, but in the current business climate in the NFL, the Falcons would make more money with a new stadium. This is about competing with the other cities that have built new facilities, often partly with public funds. The article states the split is 30% public funds, 70% private (Falcons & NFL). With the state retaining ownership, this is not a bad deal.

I do not have a problem with the hotel-motel tax helping to fund the stadium – out of towners will mostly pay the taxes. If you’re thinking that money could be used for something more important, you’re right – but that same money is still being used to pay for the Georgia Dome right now. The money is just being redirected to pay for the new stadium.

I would like to see along with the new stadium a guarantee and action plan to revitalize the area surrounding the stadium, including Five Points. There is a plan to build a new multi-modal transportation terminal that would house commuter rail, inter-city and commuter bus, and Amtrak inter-city rail services. In between Five Points MARTA station and Phillips Arena a covered retail area is to be built with new office space. Jobs. Sales tax revenue. Nice.

If the area improvements become reality, and things in the area change for the better for good, then I believe the new stadium project will be worth it. This could be a big win for Metro Atlanta, not just the Falcons.

Jack B.

December 11th, 2012
2:07 pm

Hey kids. I have an idea. Why don’t you stop occupying Wall Street and go occupy a shower? Then go look for a job. Leave the urban planning to the grown ups.

Reality

December 11th, 2012
2:07 pm

@td –

You cannot be serious! When you say that this new stadium will bring jobs, what exactly do you mean?

Do you mean the temporary construction jobs with low pay that will be gone after it is complete? If so, then what? Do you propose we tear that one down and build again?

Do you mean that there will be more concession jobs? Really? You think that the low paying concession job market will EXPLODE with this new stadium? Suddenly, there will be tons more minimum wage jobs selling peanuts?

Please stop with the typical idiot republican conservative ditto-head approach and USE YOUR BRAIN to think about issues!

Rock Gaines

December 11th, 2012
2:08 pm

Where it says “the article says…” it should say, “a previous article appearing in yesterday’s AJC states…”