Two-thirds of Atlantans still say public money for Falcons stadium is a crappy idea

This is Falcons week at Field of Schemes, apparently. The latest news from Atlanta is that people there really really hate the Falcons’ new stadium proposal: 66% of those polled by WSB-TV don’t want the Georgia Dome replaced vs. 21% who do, while 60% oppose using hotel-motel tax money for the project, while 29% approve of it. (No explanation from WSB about those 6% who don’t want a new stadium, but do want to use public funding to pay for one.)

If all this sounds familiar, that’s probably because almost identical numbers of Atlantans said the same thing five months ago. But of course, none of those people matter unless they’re members of the state legislature, which is the body that will decide whether to lift the state convention center authority’s debt ceiling so that the stadium plan can go ahead. Right now the legislature’s position is probably best described as “skeptical,” but then, the lobbying season hasn’t begun in earnest yet.

11 comments on “Two-thirds of Atlantans still say public money for Falcons stadium is a crappy idea

  1. Well, how often do the people of Atlanta stay in hotels in their own hometown? Seems like a reasonable way to pay for it to me. Here’s your options Atlanta. If you didn’t notice (very possible), the Thrashers just got finished showing you how important you are. Somewhere along the lines of a Winnipeg. So, one way or another you can build the stadium. Otherwise, “….and now ladies and gentlemen, welcome your San Antonio/Virginia Beach/Dayton Falcons!!!” “YAY!”

  2. That sort of “get the visitors” tax is one of those things that works like karma. It may not seem to get you right away, but other cities you travel to may have their own versions of the visitor taxes. When family/friends/business travelers visit and rent a car or stay in a hotel they get dinged, which works the cost into many different things. Travel somewhere sometime and enjoy seeing added fees and surcharges on your rental car… airport car rental fees added 30% + $5.50 a day here last time some family came to town and rented a car. They didn’t see any sports events either. Once upon a time Seattle was looking at a special extra sales tax on sports memorabilia/items, maybe that would be better… any soccer cleats or nerf footballs would have a surcharge for the Falcons.

  3. Hey Mike NONE of the places you mentioned could handle NFL. The only NFL level market still open is L.A. and the NFL will keep that open as long as possible to shake down as many other markets to get new mallparks as possible.
    Politicians letting the tail wag the dog is the problem.

  4. Mike:

    So people that don’t vote in the Atlanta area, but travel to the Atlanta area, they should pay to build Arthur Blank (who by the way has a reported net worth of $1.3B (from 2011)) a new stadium?

    That makes this taxation without representation, which while not against the law, is the reason we got all uppity and started our little country in the first place.

    And as ChefJoe pointed out, you are probably building someone else’s stadium when you travel. If you don’t travel, those costs are working their way back into the goods and services you buy eventually anyway.

    Finally, why not let the Falcons leave? Think of all the schools and roads and police that money would pay for in Atlanta. Heck, think of not taxing anything else at all. Or is 16 football games a year really worth giving hundreds of millions of dollars in tax subsidies to a billionaire?

  5. What Mike (and others) forget is that if its so acceptable to raise a hotel tax, why not do that to help pay for schools & services? Then, perhaps Atlanta could lower another tax to either save its residents money and/or be more competitive in attracting business. When you substitute the taxes around, this type of sports welfare (hotel tax, rental car tax, etc.) is no better than a tax that directly hits a resident. Henry Hazlitt would probably say this line of thinking is in line with the ‘broken window fallacy,’ focusing only on what is seen and not enough on what is ‘unseen.’

  6. Just a note from my earlier post, I booked car rentals for trips to three different cities today (a total of eight rental days). Total cost was $273.51. The tax portion of that was $114.21; or about 42%. In one city the tax was more than the rental car rate ($19 for the car, $25 for the tax).

    I’m not on a corporate account, so that’s out of my pocket. And a good chunk of that is likely to pay for stadia in cities where I don’t live (and don’t vote) and certainly don’t care about the football teams or their owners.

  7. If Neil should want to digress from the Falcons for a while, wavy has a story about the town hall meeting for the Virginia Beach arena. The moderators prompted smaller groups to answer two questions: What intrigues you about the idea of having a sports and entertainment venue in Virginia Beach? and What concerns do you have about the arena project? Sounds like they could make comments all they want, this was to discuss how to do the arena, not so much “should we do the arena”.

  8. This will be moderated, but here’s what they looked over before the town hall.

    I like that slide 5 is a picture of the American Airlines Arena… because that’s worked out so well for the public.

  9. Unfortunately, tourist taxes have taken hold in many places, because locals think that they won’t affect them. Case in point, I went to Kansas City recently and had a $4 per day tax on my rental car as a construction fee to pay for the teamless Sprint Center.

    Now, one angle would be to say why should Kansas City care about me. Maybe that is true, as when KC residents go to a city that has similar taxes (although hopefully they actually got teams to play in their arenas), they’re going to get tourist-taxed regardless of whether they have their own at home that they sic on everyone else. At some point, however, the taxes are hard hitting enough financially or sickening enough morally that they make people not want to come to your city at all, and then you don’t have a tourist trade at all. That’s what should scare tourist-taxing cities, not the fairness or karma factors.

  10. Yeah, I’d say there are two ways of looking at tourist taxes: Either they at some point start driving tourists away because of the high costs, as Brian notes above; or if your city is just so damn awesome that people will come even if you raise hotel and car-rental rates to the moon, then as EG says, why not just raise those taxes and use them to pay for something more useful?

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