A new proposal for a retractable-roof downtown stadium for the Atlanta Falcons may bypass the Georgia Legislature altogether.
Under the terms of a revised deal for the stadium no congressional approval would be necessary to increase the bonding capacity of Georgia World Congress Center to $300 million. That would allow the $300 million bond package to continue to be backed by the existing hotel-motel taxes that are collected in the City of Atlanta.
If the plan is approved, bonding capacity would shift from the state to the city, reports SaportaReport.com. However, very little would actually be different.
The Falcons and the National Football League would cover two-thirds of the stadium’s cost with public dollars on the hook for the remaining amount. There was no word from SaportaReport.com about financing for proposed downtown infrastructure renovations that have been backed by Mayor Kasim Reed. The mayor estimated that project would push the cost from $946 million to $1.2 billion.
The biggest difference between this and previous proposals, according to SaportaReport.com, is that the deal could get done with no input from city or state representatives.
There has been opposition to a new stadium deal from some legislators, and several polls have shown that there is not much support statewide for a new Atlanta Falcons stadium.
According to a recent poll, Atlantans are overwhelmingly opposed to the prospect of using public funds to build the new $900 million-plus stadium, and Reed admitted that a new stadium in Atlanta was highly unlikely without public financing.
A recent statewide poll conducted by the AJC showed 72 percent of respondents either opposed or strongly opposed to using hotel/motel tax collections in Atlanta and unincorporated Fulton County to help finance construction.
That number is a nonstarter for many in the Georgia legislature.
“It’s hard to get lawmakers to vote for something that’s polling 70-to-30 no,” Gov. Nathan Deal told the paper. “They need to directly communicate with the public. Either way the public attitude has to be significantly changed from where it is now.”
Opposition has been voiced strongly by Common Cause Georgia, a political advocacy group, and State Senator Vince Fort, of Atlanta.
“I don’t believe that taxpayer money, that is $300 million, should be used to pay for a billionaire’s playground,” Fort told the Daily World. “We are furloughing teachers in this state, we are cutting pre-K, cutting the Hope Scholarship, so I believe that there are more important priorities than creating a playground for Arthur Blank. Tell Arthur Blank to pay for it himself.”
It is believed that there would less opposition if the bonds were backed by the City of Atlanta, most likely through its economic development arm, Invest Atlanta, SaportaReport.com said.
Reed said in an interview with the Atlanta Association of Black Journalists that Invest Atlanta would be receiving increased attention and funds in coming years.