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Wednesday, January 23, 2013

So about that new stadium deal that's in the works...

Man, Im scared, whats the citys responsibility going to be if the state increases the debt capacity needed to build a new multi-use stadium?
  • Joeff Davis/CL File
  • 'Man, I'm scared, what's the city's responsibility going to be if the state increases the debt capacity needed to build a new multi-use stadium?'
Max touched on this news item in First Slice, but it's worth revisiting. Maria Saporta reports that the Atlanta Falcons, Gov. Nathan Deal, and Mayor Kasim Reed are now tinkering with the deal to finance a proposed multi-use stadium.

The latest version involves the city - or more likely, Invest Atlanta, its economic development arm - taking on debt to fund the public portion, which would be repaid with approximately $300 million generated by the city's hotel/motel tax. (That "public portion" figure doesn't include the downtown land the state would provide for the stadium construction or other perks, including special tax exemptions.)

Apparently the deal is still in the works and subject to change. But if all parties sign off on the deal, it raises some interesting questions.

If Invest Atlanta takes on this additional debt, what's the burden on the city? Does the city then own part of this estimated $1 billion sports facility? What happens if hotel/motel tax collections suffer and the agency has difficulty paying off the bonds? Does Atlanta get a seat at the negotiating table, allowing Mayor Kasim Reed to demand certain community benefits or even stadium design? Does that include calling the shots on who gets contracts to build the stadium? In other words, what does Atlanta get in return?

And then there's the question of what the city might give up to make such a deal happen, as Charlie Harper at Peach Pundit sums up quite nicely in one paragraph:

And the City will soon come to the state asking for help with issues that do affect the entire region, and those in the suburban part of the region will point to the [destruction] of a Dome with 20 years of functional life remaining and laugh.

A few things come to mind. Grady Memorial Hospital. Our woeful intown infrastructure and long list of needed transportation improvements. Anyone want to add to the list?

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