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IS HAWKS' ARENA IN JEOPARDY AFTER NBA CAP-O-NOMICS KICK IN?
Published April 29, 1997
In Atlanta, local government bodies "must vote all over again" on the city's proposed $213M downtown sports arena "because a key element of the financing has changed," according to Saporta & Unger of the ATLANTA CONSTITUTION. If the Atlanta City Council, Fulton County Commission or the Atlanta-Fulton County Recreation Authority votes it down, the entire "project would be in jeopardy." The change in the plan "affects what had been an important taxpayer safeguard," as the team had pledged all of its revenues to repay arena construction bonds if the facility's income wasn't enough to cover them, which "virtually guaranteed taxpayers wouldn't have to pay for any shortfall." But the NBA now says Hawks players "would have to be paid first." With the salary cap at "about" $25M, that much less revenue would be available back to the arena bonds. Fulton County Commission Chair Mitch Skandalakis: "It seems odd that you would go into this thing not knowing what the NBA's position would be. I'm not happy at all. I think (the new arena proposal) stands little chance of passage from my board." But Michael Coleman, counsel representing the Hawks, said they "have presented to the city and county staff a proposal that we think offers even better protection to the taxpayers" (ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 4/29).