The Atlanta city council, or at least its finance and executive committee, met yesterday to discuss the Falcons stadium project, and made that they’re going to have demands in exchange for giving the team $300 million in future hotel tax funds: a few goodies for themselves and their members.
City Councilman Ivory Lee Young Jr., who represents the stadium district, called for at least 30 percent participation by minority-owned firms in stadium contracts — a request that was echoed by other members of the council.
That’s a nice enough ask, and one that the Falcons can easily enough accede to — it shouldn’t be any skin off their nose who builds their new stadium. And besides, as we’ve seen in the past, this kind of requirement can easily be met by handing off a large number of small contracts to minority-owned firms while reserving the big ones for the usual suspects. Not to mention that promises of construction jobs going to locals are hard to verify if nobody keeps count.
Ernestine Faircloth said the city needs to beef up workforce training programs for residents of surrounding neighborhoods who seek to one day work at the complex.
Not a bad idea, but also not a bad idea to help residents prepare for jobs anywhere. Assuming there are significant numbers of new jobs to be had, which, given that this new stadium would just be replacing the Georgia Dome, isn’t all that good of a bet.
There were a couple more substantive objections from the council:
Councilwoman Yolanda Adrean questioned whether the hotel tax could be better spent repairing Atlanta’s aging roads, bridges, and sewers rather than building a new stadium. She also inquired about the necessity of a new facility given that the Dome is ranked “in the top five” stadiums.
Still, yesterday’s hearing sounds like it was more about haggling over the details than whether the stadium plan is a good one in the first place. Of course, there’s no actual plan exactly yet, so councilmembers didn’t have all that much solid to react to; a board meeting of the city’s economic development agency is set for today, at which a bit more light may be shed on the actual economics of the deal. But as far as opening salvos go, the one from the Atlanta council yesterday was far more “make it worth my while” than “explain why we should do this exactly?”