Sports
10:51 am
Mon December 3, 2012

Will Georgians Pay For A New Falcons Stadium?

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If a new building is built for the Atlanta Falcons, the team and the state will seek about $1 billion in construction bonds. The Falcons would be responsible for paying off about $700 million of that amount.

But will Georgians pay the rest?

An aerial shot of the Georgia Dome.
Credit http://www.chick-fil-abowl.com/FanInfo/GeorgiaDome.aspx

That question has been part of the public debate as private talks about a new stadium continue.

Of the billion dollars needed to pay off construction bonds, about $300 million will come from the hotel/motel tax in Atlanta and unincorporated Fulton County. A third of the money in a mostly private deal will come from taxpayers.

“Taxpayers and citizens have a right and need to be engaged in the process,” said Common Cause Georgia Executive Director William Perry

So, who are those taxpayers?

“I suppose if you say hotel/motel tax, you’re really thinking about people who are from the outside who are coming here who actually paying for the retirement of those bonds,” said Governor Nathan Deal.

But, are any of the people who pay for those rooms every year from Georgia?

“Approximately, 86% of the hotel residents in the city of Atlanta are from outside of Georgia,” said Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau executive vice president Gregory Pierce. “So, only 14% are within the state.”

The state would have to raise the Congress Center’s debt ceiling before getting construction bonds. However, Pierce says the $300 million to help pay the bonds would not come from the state.

“It’s actually money from the city of Atlanta,” said Pierce.

Every year, the city of Atlanta collects about $42 million dollars in hotel/motel taxes. The money is split between the city, the convention and visitors bureau, the Congress Center and the Georgia Dome.

“The hotel tax legislation is there for one reason to generate more hotel says and more visitation,” said Pierce.

The Dome gets the biggest slice, about 39%, to pay off bonds used to build the Dome. Once they’re paid, the city will have to decide if the 38 year old tax should continue. If it continues, the same 39% will help pay for a new stadium.