In what is arguably the most absurd stadium scheme ever, the Atlanta Falcons are trying to work out a deal for a $950 million retractable roof stadium that would result in the demolition of the 20-year-old Georgia Dome. Why do the Falcons need an even newer stadium? The Atlanta Journal Constitution reports: “The Falcons want a new stadium because they feel the Dome, which opened in 1992, does not offer the premium seating and other amenities that drive revenue in more recent NFL stadiums.” So there’s absolutely nothing wrong with the building from a structural standpoint. It just doesn’t make enough money for owner Arthur Blank. And because Arthur Blank is not making enough money, the public may have to kick in another $300 million for its share of a new stadium. This contribution would come from an extension of a hotel-motel occupancy tax.
So the stadium plans chug full steam ahead with no sign of serious opposition to such an absurd waste of public resources. The mayor of Atlanta supports a new stadium because, well, it means (temporary) jobs, and because he can point to a new stadium as something he helped accomplish, and because he probably gets campaign contributions and Falcons tickets from Arthur Blank. So far be it for him to actually ask whether $300 million could be more wisely spent in Atlanta to actually benefit the city’s residents rather than one NFL owner.
One AJC writer has the decency to call Shenanigans. Blogger Jeff Schultz has a good take and ends his post with a perfect line about the Georgia Dome and the need for a new stadium: “The building isn’t crumbling. Our priorities are.”