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Common Cause opposes public funding for new Falcons stadium

By Maria Saporta

Common Cause Georgia will do all it can to prevent any public funds from being used to build a new stadium for the Atlanta Falcons.

Willam Perry, executive director of Common Cause Georgia, said at the Sustainable Atlanta Roundtable meeting Friday morning that his organization was going to try to get a bill introduced to stop the hotel-motel tax from being used to finance the proposed $1 billion stadium.

In the 2010 session, the General Assembly authorized that the hotel-motel tax collected in the City of Atlanta’s and in unincorporated Fulton County could be extended to build a new stadium as long as it was built on property owned by the Georgia World Congress Center (GWCC).

“We are going to stop it,” Perry said. “We are going to get a bill to stop that from happening.”

In a telephone interview after the SART panel, Perry explained that he would like to see hotel-motel taxes be used on other amenities such as infrastructure improvements. He said he would support changes in the hotel-motel tax legislation to allow the tax to be used on a broader range of tourism and hospitality-oriented projects.

“Mainly we want to change the hotel-motel tax so it is no longer authorized to fund a new stadium, be it in the City of Atlanta or in the suburbs,” Perry said. “It’s a law that they wrote that can be changed.”

At the same time, Perry wrote a letter Friday to Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank complaining about the lack of openness and public involvement in the negotiations of the new stadium. And because of that, Common Cause Georgia “now opposes any public funding being used in the construction of such a stadium.”

Perry’s letter said it does not oppose a new stadium being built; it just opposes it being built with any public dollars

In addition to the funding question, Perry brought up the possibility of Los Angeles trying to woo the Atlanta Falcons to their city. While the Falcons have been committed to Atlanta and Georgia, Perry wanted more assurances from Blank.

“Common Cause Georgia hereby respectfully asks and calls upon you as the majority owner and decision-maker of the Atlanta Falcons to openly publish and declare that the Falcons organization is committed to remaining in Atlanta Georgia….” the letter stated.

GWCC spokeswoman Jennifer LeMaster did not comment on this story because she said the organization is honoring the 15-day quiet period.

The Atlanta Falcons had not responded as of this posting.

Maria Saporta

Maria Saporta, Editor, is a longtime Atlanta business, civic and urban affairs journalist with a deep knowledge of our city, our region and state.  Since 2008, she has written a weekly column and news stories for the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Prior to that, she spent 27 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, becoming its business columnist in 1991. Maria received her Master’s degree in urban studies from Georgia State and her Bachelor’s degree in journalism from Boston University. Maria was born in Atlanta to European parents and has two young adult children.


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  1. ptm4936 February 1, 2013 4:16 pm

    For being such a twit William Perry certainly has a lot of demands.Report

  2. Jason123456789 February 2, 2013 7:09 pm

    If other unincorporated parts of Fulton County follow the path of Sandy Springs, Johns Creek, and Milton, what will that do to the Hotel tax? Would the tax in those new cities still go to the stadium or would the City of Atlanta have to come up with money to make up for the shortage?Report

    1. The Last Democrat in Georgia February 2, 2013 9:30 pm

       As far as I know, only the proceeds of hotel-motel taxes that are collected within the corporate limits of the City of Atlanta and the remaining unincorporated parts of Fulton County can be applied towards the cost of building a new stadium on the Georgia World Congress Center property.
      Hotel-motel taxes collected in other incorporated Fulton County cities cannot be used towards paying the cost of a new stadium, if I am correct. 
      Though, as far as I am aware, the only area of unincorporated Fulton where the hotel-motel tax is still collected is in the immediate area of Fulton Industrial Boulevard near I-20 where the City of Atlanta is prohibited by state law from annexing that particular heavily commercialized and industrialized strip of Fulton Industrial Boulevard that includes a series of aging and declining motels, adult clubs (strip clubs and swinger clubs), gas stations, fast food restaurants, etc.Report

    2. The Last Democrat in Georgia February 2, 2013 9:36 pm

       Fulton Industrial Boulevard near I-20 is the only section of unincorporated Fulton that has any hotels or motels to collect the hotel-motel tax.
      The rest of unincorporated Fulton, which now only includes a limited section of southwest Fulton County, has no hotels or motels to collect the tax as the rest of the county is now incorporated.Report

  3. Julien Peter Benney February 25, 2013 7:34 pm

    I have always been vigorously opposed to publicly funded sports stadiums.In my Australian homeland where many grounds were affected by league rent control (more accurately fixed rent) laws that prevented clubs from improving decrepit grounds, government funding really does little to provide stadiums ideal for football (by which I always mean Australian Rules).The question arises whether there will be threats to move the Falcons (who despite much on-field success were ranked as the fifth least valued NFL franchise by Forbes this year) if a new stadium is not obtained and another sees that it might attract them by building a stadium, as happened with the Rams and Oilers in the 1990s?? If this be so, then there would be a need to extend lobbying far beyond Atlanta.Report


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