SBD/March 1, 2011/Facilities

Falcons Would Benefit Most From New Downtown Atlanta Stadium

Some experts feel new Falcons stadium would not benefit taxpayers
A new downtown open-air stadium in Atlanta "would be of enormous benefit" to the Falcons, but "neither local taxpayers nor the region's economy is likely to accrue much advantage from a new arena built on public land, in part with public money," according to experts cited by Kanell & Stafford of the ATLANTA CONSTITUTION. The new stadium would shift Falcons games "from the 19-year-old Georgia Dome to a stadium that would be built on nearby Ivan Allen Boulevard." Kennesaw State Univ. sports economist J.C. Bradbury: "It's just adding zero to zero." Many options are "still on the table -- perhaps including renovation or expansion of the Georgia Dome." But the Georgia World Congress Center Authority last week said that it has "drafted a 'memorandum of understanding' on plans for a $700 million stadium." GWCCA officials said that if they reach a formal agreement, the state or the authority "would issue bonds to raise $350 million to $400 million, while the team would cover the rest of the cost." Univ. of Oregon business professor Dennis Howard: "The team gets to keep the lion's share of local revenue. That's why they want a new stadium. My question would be, 'What's in it for the state of Georgia? What's in it for the city of Atlanta?'" Kanell & Stafford noted boosters are "quick to point out that state funding of the project will come through hotel taxes, not from fees or taxes imposed on residents," but economists said that "spending on sports can't be judged unless you consider how it shifts money from other programs, investment and tax cuts" (ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 2/27).
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