Watchdog group wants public to have a say in stadium discussion - CBS46 News

Watchdog group wants public to have a say in new stadium discussion

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The Georgia Dome in downtown Atlanta The Georgia Dome in downtown Atlanta
ATLANTA (CBS ATLANTA) -

Sean Fowler says if he's going to be one of the people paying for a proposed new Falcons' stadium he should get at least some say on where that money's going to come from.

"We do live here, so we have to have a voice," said Fowler, a general manager at a downtown Atlanta restaurant and a taxpayer. "I believe the public should be involved with it, especially if tax dollars will be involved with any project that's going to benefit the city."

The Georgia World Congress Center Authority, which runs the Georgia Dome, and the Falcons last week agreed on the first step toward building a new stadium.

Under the proposal, the Falcons and the NFL would pay for two-thirds of the stadium.

Supporters say visitors would pay for the remaining third in the form of an existing hotel tax.

"Saying it comes from hotel visitors doesn't change the fact that it's still public tax dollars," said William Perry, Executive Director with the watchdog group Common Cause. "So far, the public has been benched in this process."

Common Cause complains the Falcons and the authority have excluded taxpayers from the decision making on who should pay for the proposed stadium.

"What we oppose is the fact that the public doesn't have a seat at the table," Perry said.

A spokeswoman for the authority said the group has given the public many chances weigh in.

"We publish all of our meetings a year in advance," said spokeswoman, Jennifer Lemaster. "All of our board an committee meetings are open to the public. (Common Causes's) assertions are erroneous and self serving."

Falcons fan, Jeff Dudley said, metro Atlanta should focus on what taxpayers really need.

"I don't know why they need a new stadium, we got issues like traffic control, other things we can spend the money on," Dudley said.

CBS Atlanta News will have the latest on this story at 6 p.m. Stay with CBSAtlanta.com for updates.

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