Gov. Nathan Deal on Wednesday expressed muted support for a proposed deal to build a new stadium for the Atlanta Falcons under which taxpayers would be responsible for $300 million of the project’s cost.
“If we get a new facility that meets the current demands and needs of the future, then being on the hook so to speak for less than a third that is repaid from that money that comes from outsiders, I think that’s probably a pretty good deal,” the governor told reporters at a Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce event.
Negotiations between the Falcons and the Georgia World Congress Center, which manages the team’s existing venue, are expected to be finalized by the year’s end. Under that agreement, taxpayers would assume roughly one-third of the cost of the $1.2 billion undertaking.
That money would be ultimately repaid by private investments and revenue generated by the new stadium, an official with the Georgia World Congress Center said this week.
Some state lawmakers have proposed raiding the hotel tax fund to pay the state’s share, though recent public opinion surveys have found majority opposition to the proposal.
Whatever the source and extent of state funding, Deal said the burden of persuasion was on the Falcons.
“Anytime that you’re asking for a major change, you have to convince the broader population base of the need for the change that you’re requisition,” he said Wednesday.
But the governor did have some messaging advice: relate the future of Falcons to the the financial welfare of the city.
“They just need to explain what the project is, the importance of the project to the future of the Falcons here and our city,” Deal said.
- James Richardson