Like a lot of people, I’ve watched a lot of games from the Georgia Dome over the past two decades of its existence. Even recently, there’s been a spate of big games at the Dome…the actual National Championship game, otherwise known as the SEC championship, an exciting Peach Bowl (sorry, I don’t use corporate IDs for bowl games,) the Falcons razor-thin victory last week and the NFC Championship this weekend. (As I write this, I don’t know how that one turned out, but Go Falcons!)
So, yeah, lifelong football fan here. But as I watched those games, I kept looking for reasons why the Georgia Dome has to be leveled into a parking lot and a brand new stadium built, and I just couldn’t see any.
Field’s in good shape….attendance is jam-packed…plenty of excitement…plenty of fans…nothing stood out.
But I guess you have to have the eye of one Arthur Blank, owner of the Falcons, to see the real problem. There’s just not enough luxury seats in Georgia Dome, and a new stadium would be a “long term solution”….to what, exactly, Mr. Blank?
Keeping up with the (Jerry) Jones’s?
Apparently, those 70,000 plus fannies out in the “cheap seats” (note the irony quotes, don’t seem all that cheap to me!) don’t count for much, it’s the few hundred up in the clouds with Arthur that really count.
But, why should a football stadium be any different than the rest of the state?
Because that’s how the Republican (super) majority runs this state, and has been running it for a decade now. Cuts to education…to roads…to HOPE…college funding…mental health…police and security…cuts across the board, but the instant Mr. Blank comes over with his hand out, a compliant legislature and governor (well-supported with free football tickets and other perks, apparently) begins making all sorts of excuses why they’re about to give in to Mr. Blank’s thinly veiled threat to take the Falcons elsewhere if he doesn’t get what he wants.
Never mind that over 70 percent of Georgians are opposed. They’re the 70-plus slumming it down in the non-luxury seats. The ones that Mr. Blank and his backers don’t want to have any input into the process, even though they’re asking for public funds.
It is especially ironic to hear the Governor and others using Keynesian economic reasoning to support the public funds. Good for the economy, you know! Well, I’m a Keynesian kind of guy myself, public works projects can be good for the short-term economy, but the benefits of this one isn’t exactly going public, are they? $350 million public dollars are being requested, plus the City of Atlanta will have to provide upgraded infrastructure to support the new stadium, yet it will be the Atlanta Falcons who control ALL the revenues earned not just from Falcons games, but the SEC Championship, Final Fours, concerts, and other events. And sales tax breaks will be given to companies during construction, to the tune of $25 million in lost public revenues there.
Yet, there is no public referendum being scheduled…no nothing, except legislators and a governor making excuses for doing something the public doesn’t want.
Can’t wait to see how much they cut on schools, roads, and health care while they fund a football stadium!
Tom McMahan is a public school teacher in Catoosa County and the Chair of the Dade County Democratic Committee. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.