GA gov to Falcons: How about $200m? Will you take $200m?

And there’s a new twist in the Atlanta Falcons stadium debates:

Gov. Nathan Deal confirmed Tuesday that he prefers a deal with less than the $300 million in public funding called for in a tentative agreement between the Falcons and the Georgia World Congress Center Authority.

“That seemed like a little bit high of a number,” Deal said. “We’re still talking and hopefully before too very long we will have a proposal that will save the taxpayers a lot of money.”…

In discussions this week, [Falcons owner Arthur] Blank will consider a range of new options for public help on the stadium. Chief among them is an idea he has so far resisted: To lower his request for public funds from the $300 million he originally sought to $200 million.

Coincidentally, $200 million is the very amount that the GWCCA can raise without having to go to the state legislature to ask to have its debt limit raised. (Though there’s still some question about whether the GWCCA would need legislative approval to establish a revolving line of credit.) So while on the one hand this may seem like a nice bit of hardball negotiating by Deal, one could also see it as an attempt to rescue the deal by saying, “Yo, Arthur. The legislature hates this plan. The public hates this plan. How about you just take the $200 million we can get without a vote and run with it?”

And then there’s this report from Atlanta business reporter Maria Saporta:

A revised deal for a new stadium currently is being negotiated whereby the Georgia Legislature would not have to vote on increasing the bonding capacity of Georgia World Congress Center to $300 million.

Currently negotiations are underway at the Governor’s mansion between Gov. Nathan Deal, the Atlanta Falcons and the City of Atlanta where the bonding capacity would shift from the state to the city.

Saporta isn’t exactly clear how this would work — since the money would still come from the same hotel-motel taxes that currently flow to the state-run GWCCA, wouldn’t the state legislature still have to vote to approve shifting that revenue stream to the city instead? Regardless, clearly right now both Deal and Blank are trying desperately to find a way to build a stadium that doesn’t require one of those pesky “vote” things, since then you need to get the approval of more than two people in a room.


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