Beside the question of whether it's ultimately needed, three themes regarding the new Falcons football stadium are popping up on the regular: financing, location, and subsequent neighborhood impact. The latter receives a stellar analysis today by Thomas Wheatley, who masterfully puts the current hoopla in the context of Atlanta's past four stadia constructed in African American neighborhoods.
Beginning with the construction of the Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium in the 1960s, the areas surrounding these megastructures (Summerhill, Peoplestown, Mechanicsville, Vine City, and English Avenue) have come to be characterized by days of sometimes obnoxious activity interspersed with a more regular air of hopelessness. Although commercial activity outside the stadium walls is almost zilch, the parking of cars has become a lucrative endeavor, to the point where empty lots have become valuable commodities in themselves. And we all know how effectively parking facilities can kill the livelihood of entire city swaths (we're looking at you, downtown).
With similar intensity, a piece in Bloomberg delves into the controversy surrounding the use of public funds for the purpose of building private stadiums, something Colleen Kiernan - head of the Sierra Club - argued against today on WABE. In the case of the Dome replacement, $300 million of the city's hotel/motel tax would be used for financing. That tax is split up four ways, with the Georgia Dome, the Georgia World Congress Center, the visitor's bureau, and the city itself each receiving a slice. Kiernan believes that the city would be far better off utilizing the monies for MARTA, a move that might go a long way to rebuilding public trust. The new stadium's all but a done deal; the question is whether or not it'll be business as usual.
· The Stadium Effect [Creative Loafing]
· Coalition Wants Hotel/Motel Tax Revenue for MARTA [WABE]
· In Stadium Building Spree, U.S. Taxpayers Lose $4 Billion [Bloomberg]