Economic team led by Atlanta's mayor wants free tickets to Merce - CBS46 News

Economic team led by Atlanta's mayor wants free tickets to Mercedes-Benz Stadium

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(Source: WGCL) (Source: WGCL)

CBS46 is uncovering why some city workers say they need free tickets to the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium. We're learning a battle is brewing between Invest Atlanta, an economic team led by Atlanta's mayor, and the city's ethics board.

The group says the free tickets are crucial to helping Atlanta's economic growth.

I reached out to Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, but he is not talking about it on camera. The mayor's office simply sent us an Invest Atlanta letter asking the ethics board to expedite consideration of tickets for football and soccer games.

Mayor Reed's staff says the letter speaks for itself.

Taxpayer Donna Scoggins was surprised to learn that Invest Atlanta appealed to the ethics board on July 20 saying it should be given free seats to reel in potential businesses.

"I don't think anybody should get any perks," says Scoggins.

In a recent letter to the board obtained by CBS46, Invest Atlanta writes, "relationships are essential to success in promoting economic development."

"Invest Atlanta would have a rigorous transparent policy that would ensure it was only used for economic development purposes," says Rosalind Rubens Newell with Invest Atlanta.

Four years ago, city employees were essentially told to buy their own tickets.

"If they said no four years ago, why would they change it in 2017?" asked Scoggins.

The group says not only have they helped created 33,000 jobs locally, it also helped fund $225 million for the Falcons' new stadium. But government watchdog William Perry said that money comes from the hotel-motel tax and belongs to you, the taxpayers.

"I think this is a Hail Mary by Invest Atlanta and the mayor," says Perry.ADAM

"As long as they're not pocketing the tickets for their family and friends, and going complete nepotism with it, then I think it would be a good thing," says taxpayer Keith Piasecki.

An ethics officer informed me that Invest Atlanta tried to get free tickets four years ago and were told it was a violation of code. I'm told their pitch was similar on July 20 and the board may not rule on it until their next meeting in September.

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