Falcons CEO: Give us $300m, or we’ll make you take different highways to the game

The Atlanta city council took up the issue yesterday of whether to give about $300 million in hotel tax money to the Falcons ($200 million now, $100 million or so later) for a new stadium, and team CEO Rich McKay wasted no time in spelling out why Atlantans should be quivering in their boots at the consequences of not doing so:

“We would have no choice but to consider pursuing another option in metro Atlanta” if negotiations break down, Falcons President and CEO Rich McKay said. “Please don’t let anybody say that’s a threat. No, that’s just a reality of what we have to do as our lease is about to end.”

Okay, a few things:

  1. That actually is a threat. Really.
  2. While it’s certainly convenient for Atlantans to drive downtown to see the Falcons, it’s tough to see how it’s worth $300 million to keep from having to go to, say, Gwinnett to see games. The Falcons bring in about $239 million a year in revenues, much of which is from TV contracts and other non-taxable items; but even if that entire amount were subject to Atlanta’s 1% sales tax, it’d still only mean $2.4 million a year in sales tax revenues being at stake, which isn’t nearly enough to pay off $300 million.
  3. None of the suburbs are actually offering to build a stadium. Falcons owner Arthur Blank has threatened that he could build his own open-air stadium in the suburbs for the same price as his private cost for a domed stadium in Atlanta, but hasn’t actually proposed any serious plans. (And given everything above, that might be considered not so much a threat as something else.)

Anyway, McKay did manage to get the main media coverage of yesterday’s hearing to focus on “OMG THE FALCONS COULD MOVE TO THE SUBURBS,” so it’s a success in that regard. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution noted that during the public comment period that followed, “several residents said they opposed any use of public money to build a new stadium,” but it didn’t have room to quote any of them, because OMG THE FALCONS COULD MOVE TO THE SUBURBS.

5 comments on “Falcons CEO: Give us $300m, or we’ll make you take different highways to the game

  1. What if they have to build some new Infrastructure to get to the new Infrastructure out in the ‘burbs? Wouldn’t that be a double-bang hunk of economic development?

  2. At least they’ve been shamed into putting in the disclaimer: “Blank is on the board of directors of Cox Enterprises, whose media holdings include The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.”

  3. Did I miss something? Did Atlanta inform Mckay (and Blank) that it would, under no circumstances, be willing to agree to a new lease with the team?

    Well, then I guess McKay & co. do have another option…

    Maybe Eugene Robinson is the face of this franchise after all…

  4. Sheesh. The NFL Owners Public Extortion Committee (NFL-OPEC) is going to have to have a sit down with Arthur Blank and clear this up. He must have missed the last 30 memos! You don’t threaten to move to the suburbs, you threaten to move to LOS ANGELES! That place where we’ve been ready to build a shiny new stadium at a moment’s notice for 19 years now. We’re just waitin’, waitin’, biding our time while we hold back the tide of hot money that’s ready to make L.A. the NFL capital of the western hemisphere. it’s gonna happen any day now unless you citizens fork over the stadium cash. Get a move on, Georgia plebes!