Think Progress has an interesting piece up from Travis Waldron about Georgia’s plan to build a new stadium to replace the 20 year old Georgia Dome. There are plenty of absurd details about how much Georgia’s owes school district ($5 billion), how stupid it is to tear down a 20 year old facility, it’s host to the 2013 Final Four yet dated? Yadda yadda.
Like Zygi Wilf and the Minnesota Vikings, the Atlanta Falcons have decided they need taxpayers to provide corporate welfare to their business so they can extract more money from fans.
The Falcons want a new stadium because they feel the Dome, which opened in 1992, does not offer the premium seating and other amenities that drive revenue in more recent NFL stadiums.
However, there are some lessons here that show that they may not be as stupid as Minnesota when it comes to financing stadiums.
Check out these nuggets:
Atlanta’s stadium cost: $950 million. $25 million cheaper than what Wilf wants to spend.
Atlanta’s stadium would have a retractable roof. The Vikings stadium would not, yet STILL costs more.
The Falcons are demanding $300 million from taxpayers. Wilf is demanding $550 million just in construction costs. He also wants tax exempt building materials, tax exempt property, and a huge portion of the annual operating costs covered by the City of Minneapolis.
Georgia would use a state-wide hotel-motel tax. They aren’t sticking the City of Atlanta with a bill far in excess of the benefits the city receives. Instead, Georgia would pay the $300 million in stadium construction corporate welfare by extending a state wide hotel/motel tax. They are not choosing to exploit their state’s gambling addicts. They are not imposing a city wide sales tax on their state’s largest city. They are not putting the burden on residents of downtown Atlanta who eat out on a regular basis. This is a very predictable funding source. Sure, there are good and bad years for hospitality, but it’s a much less risky move than relying upon unproven gambling exploitation tactics like electronic pulltabs and tip boards.
At this point, I bet the Atlanta Falcons are salivating over the chance to be able to say “LOOK AT MINNESOTA, the corporate welfare we’re asking for is NOWHERE NEAR what Minnesota just gave to the Vikings.”
Minnesota, through fear based fiscal irresponsibility, can help give the Falcons the leverage they need to extract money from the State of Georgia that could go toward paying back the $5 BILLION the state has borrowed from public schools.