I can't figure out which part of the Georgia Dome is falling down, or is in need of repair, but apparently the entire facility is need of replacement – and soon.
The Atlanta Falcons, yeah, the guys who have brought you decades of mediocre professional football, are in need of a new stadium.
I say "in need"; I should point out that the Falcons are actually "in want" of a new stadium – the Georgia Dome itself is just fine.
The cost? Scheduled to be in the ballpark of $1 billion – that's billion with a "B".
Let's keep in mind that I'm talking about the Atlanta Falcons here – remember those guys?
It is the franchise that is nearly 100 games under .500. It is the franchise that has recorded a pitiful 13 winning seasons since 1966. It is the franchise (and there is no other way to put this) with a history of losing like few others.
Yeah… those guys.
The Falcons have positioned themselves to get a new stadium in the coming years when their lease with the 20-year old Georgia Dome runs out – 20-year old… the Dome can't even drink yet, and plans are being made for its execution.
What will happen to the Dome? It will be leveled (another parking lot in Atlanta) and for what – a shiny new stadium where countless less-than-capacity crowds will watch as the Falcons display, with great regularity, the disappointment they have become so proficient at providing their fans?
But how to pay for the $1 billion shiny object? Maybe the Falcons will pay for it themselves… after all they are a private, for-profit business.
No? Too Real?
The plan is to continue a 7% hotel-motel tax in Fulton County and the City of Atlanta that was set to expire in a few years.
Why would the Falcons pay for something they can have someone else pay for instead (it must be pointed out that it is good business to freeload from the State as saving $300 million helps the bottom line every day of the week)?
Don't let any elected official in Georgia tell you they are not in favor of raising taxes because they either voted for House Bill 903, didn't vote (cowards) or didn't do anything to stop the bill. Only 18 house members voted against the bill. Sonny Perdue, who like the rest should be ashamed of himself, signed the bill into law in 2010.
The Georgia Dome deserves better treatment than this, and the Falcons certainly don't deserve anything, as they have not earned anything. Even if they did deserve something – why not go out and build the stadium yourself rather than relying on the government to fund it for you?
With the Falcons' and State's ineptitude in full focus – my problem with the proposed destruction of the Dome is actually multifaceted.
First, the Atlanta Falcons did not build the Georgia Dome. It was built with tax money from the State of Georgia in preparation for the 1996 Olympics. The Falcons' contribution to get the Dome built? Non-existent, but for the record they have lost (for the most part) in the facility since 1992.
Second, there is nothing… nothing wrong with the Georgia Dome. I've traveled the country and have been in countless stadiums, domes and arenas. The Georgia Dome is one of, if not the, finest facilities in the country. There is no reason for its destruction.
Third, why is anyone besides the Falcons – the private company pushing this wasteful proposition – paying anything for this? If the Falcons want to move or leave the Dome they, not Atlanta or Georgia, should pay for it themselves.
For the record, if the Falcons wanted to leave the area I wouldn't care either way – I think you would be surprised how many agree with me in that sentiment. That doesn't seem like it is going to happen in the future with or without this deal, but someone needs to say that out loud. Also, I point out that the Falcons have done a lot of losing through the years. Don't confuse that with thinking that the franchise winning would make it right to do this because it wouldn't. But the losing makes the notion even that more laughable.
Fourth, Republican politicians in Georgia voting in favor of this, particularly all of those claiming to be "conservative" should be absolutely ashamed of themselves. There is nothing conservative about passing on an unnecessary $300 million tax hike for something that is already in existence. Where is the outrage pointed at Republicans (or Democrats for that matter) voting in favor of a hotel tax, which won't end until 2050?
Finally, when did our society become so concerned about pleasing those who play on or own a football team that we forgot about common sense? I am a fan of sports – likely more than most in society – but I can't find where this debacle makes any sense on any level.
This, in the end and as usual, is only about money. Unfortunately in this case there is a redistribution of money from Georgia's taxpayers to the owner of an NFL football team.
Why is this OK?
Even if it isn't OK, because we know in the world we live in "OK" means different things to different people, why are elected officials allowing this to happen?
Elected officials, and I have dealt with many of them through the years, are almost always cowards. This is a prime example of that. None of them have ever proven very good at seeing into the future. And while that's the reason the Dome is in this mess right now; that's another story for another day.
I am a consumer of the NFL. I like the NFL. I have no problem taking in highlights or a game (if/when I have time). The product is outstanding.
But I choose to like the NFL. I spend my money on the NFL because I want to – I am not paying an unnecessary tax to do so.
I can't control what the Georgia General Assembly, in its poor judgment, decides to pass. But I can tell you this – I will do my best not to stay in a hotel located in Fulton County until 2051.
Take that Arthur Blank.