The Atlanta City Council approved an amended resolution Monday that authorizes the extension and use of the hotel/motel tax to partially fund a new state-of-the-art, retractable roof $1 billion stadium for the Atlanta Falcons.
"I think its good for the city -- the future of the city as we are trying to bring professional soccer here," said Councilman C.T. Martin.
The resolution was approved by a vote of 11-4. Council members Kwanza Hall, Alex Wan, Howard Shook and Felicia Moore all voted against it.
"There are issues we need to talk about so that we can give clarity to the public, who may have a misconception, clarity to ourselves or make adjustments," said Moore. "We should have our work session on Thursday and have public input sessions on that, then vote on it."
The city's development arm, Invest Atlanta has agreed to issue its revenue bonds in the amount of $200 million as the public's contribution for the construction of the new stadium. Falcons owner Arthur Blank will contribute the remaining $800 million needed for the public-private partnership.
"From the beginning, I championed the need to make this a 360-degree deal that touches on the issues that are important to the community including infrastructure improvements, community investment and inclusion of local businesses during the construction of this new facility," said City Council President Ceasar Mitchell.
The resolution authorizes (1) the extension of the 39.3 percent hotel/motel tax to 2050, (2) approves a stadium funding agreement with Invest Atlanta and an operation and maintenance agreement with the Georgia World Congress Center Authority (GWCCA). Eighty-six percent of the revenue generated by this tax comes from people living outside of Georgia.
"We are grateful for the council's vote of support today," said Atlanta Falcons Owner Arthur Blank.
Since February the Atlanta City Council has held a series of work sessions and public hearings on the proposal including an extensive meeting last week with academic, accounting, and legal experts on the financial and community impact of a new stadium in downtown Atlanta.
"The agreements approved today represent the fruits of more than two years of collaborative discussions leading to a solution that serves the best interests of all involved, including the neighborhoods surrounding the new stadium," said Blank. "The actions taken today are also a critical step toward the completion of final agreements necessary to move the new stadium forward."
Several amendments were attached to the resolution during Monday's meeting. An amendment by council member Martin calls for the Falcons to contribute an additional $20 million towards infrastructure cost for a total contribution of $70 million. The Falcons' infrastructure contribution anticipates the need to reroute Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive in order to accommodate the facility on the preferred site south of the Georgia Dome.
Council member Carla Smith amended the resolution to state that no general fund dollars will be used to finance the construction of the new stadium project or used for cost overruns, operations, maintenance or all related infrastructure costs.
Council member Michael Bond's amendment calls for Invest Atlanta to facilitate development of the community benefits plan/agreement for the surrounding neighborhoods prior to the issuance of bonds. The plan/agreement must be adopted by the city council and approved by the mayor.
The plan is to address traffic congestion, environmental impact, public safety and game-day activities and economic development.
The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation has committed $15 million for the purpose of investing in Vine City, English Avenue, Castleberry Hill and other neighborhoods near the new stadium. The funds, which will be controlled by the Blank Foundation, will be dedicated beginning in 2013 and no later than 2017. All funds will be invested in projects for the communities by December 2020.
Invest Atlanta has also committed $15 million from the Westside Tax Allocation District ("the TAD") to co-investments in the targeted neighborhoods. It is anticipated that planned uses of the TAD funds will leverage additional public and private funds.
The Falcons organization plans to spend $20 million for site acquisition and development costs.
To promote full and equal business opportunities in connection with the design and construction of the new stadium, the Atlanta Falcons and the GWCCA have agreed to develop an Equal Business Opportunity Plan that will ensure at least 31 percent participation by women and minority business enterprises. The construction of the stadium is expected to create more than 1,400 full-time equivalent jobs in Atlanta and more than 4,500 full-time equivalent jobs across Georgia over a three-year period, according to a study completed by Georgia State University Associate Professor Dr. Bruce Seaman.
The GWCCA Board of Governors on Friday authorized the authority to execute a binding memorandum of understanding between the Falcons and the GWCCA for a new stadium on the Georgia World Congress Center campus.
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