Trending Topics

In New Stadium Deal, Atlanta Mayor Demonstrates Maturing Political Skill

When Invest Atlanta voted 8-to-1 Thursday morning in favor of a new stadium for the Atlanta Falcons, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed almost broke out into an end-zone victory dance.

Yet the dynamics behind the two-and-a-half year effort to get all the necessary governmental approvals for a new stadium involved a series of twist and turns, handshakes and broken promises, unusual alliances and political intrigue that set off waves in this year’s city elections and next year’s state elections.

So many issues about how the stadium will be designed to fit in with the surrounding neighborhoods and how the communities can benefit from this $1 billion investment will hinge on the ability of the various personalities and entities to work together for the greater good.

First to the twists and turns.

For more than two years, the Atlanta Falcons negotiated with the Georgia World Congress Center Authority on the nitty-gritty elements of a new stadium deal. All options were explored — from renovating the Georgia Dome, building a new open-air stadium and keeping the Georgia Dome (the two-stadium solution), to the current option of having one stadium with a retractable roof built adjacent to the GWCC campus.

There was a handshake deal between the Falcons, the NFL, the governor and the mayor that the state would take the lead to issue bonds for about a third of the cost. (The City of Atlanta’s hotel-motel taxes already had been allocated to the project).

But state leaders got cold feet when polls showed a lack of support for tax dollars going to build a new football stadium. State leaders were particularly nervous about taking a stand that could hurt their own re-election chances in 2014.

So the City of Atlanta took the lead, eventually agreeing to issue $200 million in revenue bonds that would be backed by the hotel-motel taxes.

Here was the intrigue…

Read More: Maria Saporta,


Back to top