Zell Miller: Georgia Dome has proven its worth, but now it’s time for ... A New Dome
by Zell Miller
guest columnist
December 11, 2012 06:00 AM | 5902 views | 17 17 comments | 13 13 recommendations | email to a friend | print

In any business, if you’re making an investment, especially in lean times, you want to make sure you’re getting a healthy return on it.

In the history of our great state, few investments have paid off as handsomely as the Georgia Dome, which forever changed the landscape of our state. Before its construction, Atlanta had never hosted a Super Bowl, lacked a major event venue and hadn’t hosted a Final Four since 1977, when the event was played at the Omni.

Since opening in 1992, the Dome has hosted two Super Bowls, the annual SEC Championship, the Chick-fil-A Bowl and, come this April, three Final Fours, not to mention the concerts, crusades and conventions that also attract tourists from around the world. And, let’s not forget the most defining moment in Atlanta’s sports history, the 1996 Olympic Games. The Dome was a missing piece of the puzzle that enabled us to land the Olympics.

In total, the Georgia Dome has returned $10 billion in economic impact to the state of Georgia. Not bad for an investment of a little more than $200 million. Our willingness to make that investment paved the way to more than two decades of success and opportunity.

Now the Georgia World Congress Center Authority is focused on plans for a new stadium on its campus in downtown Atlanta. As the Atlanta Falcons approach the end of their lease at the Georgia Dome, the Authority is thoughtfully planning for a stadium that will not only serve the long-term needs of their most important tenant, but also makes sure the GWCC holds its competitive edge in attracting high-profile sporting events, concerts, conventions and other events far into the future.

***

In order to repeat the financial success of the Dome, I think it is important that we understand how and why it came into existence.

When I was lieutenant governor, we knew we needed a large-scale venue in downtown Atlanta, but were struggling to find a way to pay for the construction of the project. Back then, the Falcons’ lease with Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium was expiring and the team was hinting at moving out of the state. Led by John Aderhold, the chairman of the Georgia World Congress Center Authority, a plan was created to build a new domed stadium and keep the Falcons in Atlanta.

A public-private financing plan was put together, but ultimately crumbled as the economy bottomed out in the fall of 1988. The private sector was struggling to hit its fundraising goal, and the city of Atlanta realized it couldn’t finance any part of the construction. We were forced to find another way to get this project done.

That’s when Atlanta agreed to try a new approach — a penny hotel-motel tax increase that would be allocated for the Dome. The idea was that those who came into the city for the events at the Dome could help pay for the facility that drew them here. The city and state enthusiastically agreed, removing the private sector from the equation entirely.

***

Today, we have a better deal on the table.

The proposed new stadium would give us a state-of-the-art, modern facility that will be built in a public-private partnership that, when adjusted for inflation, includes a public investment that is less than what was put up for the Dome all those years ago. The private investment, about two-thirds of the total cost, will total approximately $700 million. In addition, the private sector — namely, the Falcons — will shoulder the risks of stadium construction cost overruns, as well as stadium operations and capital expenditures risks. This relieves Georgia of the risks they currently incur at the Dome.

Based on the Georgia Dome’s track record, the return on the state’s investment in a new stadium will be more than significant.

There is no doubt the Georgia Dome has proved its worth. Our focus now is on whether we will continue to be recognized as the sports capital of the South and a premier tourist destination. Is it worth a $300 million investment for a $1 billion dollar asset that will be owned by the state and publically funded by a hotel-motel tax that is paid for by tourists, not residents?

I say “yes.” The time has come to cast an eye to the future. This is a great deal for all of Georgia, and we can’t afford to pass it up.

The Hon. Zell Miller was the 79th governor of Georgia and served as its U.S. Senator from 2000 through 2005.

Comments
(17)
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Jeff Stevenson
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December 12, 2012
@VFP58, here is your joke........

Republicans pretending to be fiscally responsible.

Libtards Funny
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December 13, 2012
@Jeff Stevenson

Spin that one on MSNBC. It might go over with the low information high benefit Obama worshipers.
Jeff Stevenson
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December 15, 2012
No spin here Libtard.

If the GA Legislature approves this waste of public money to build an unneeded football stadium, the proof will be in the pudding.
Mick Dee
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December 12, 2012
Hey if Zell Miller pops his head up, you know there's big money involved. Remember when the lottery industry got him elected governor? They funded his whole campaign, just about.

Thanks for saving Georgia schools, Zell. They're in fine shape now, with all that lottery money coming in.

Now he wants to build us a new stadium? Smells fishy. More taxpayer handouts to the rich.
VFP42
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December 12, 2012
A $200 million Georgia Dome supposedly returned $10 billion in economic impact to Georgia.

Well, you can't beat that ROI, so why try.

Where is the expected ROI for a new stadium as compared to continuing to use the Dome?

Is the Dome the reason the Falcons and Bulldogs lose? Will an open-air stadium change that? If so, can they just use Turner Field?

The previous managers of the Barves and the Flacons were able to manage the old stadium under a time share agreement. Is this somehow impossible under the new managers? If so, can't we just get some new managers? That would be way less expensive.

JJ Mule Dhk
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December 11, 2012
ZIG, ZAG, ZELL MILLER HAS SPOKEN'

MR. ARTHUR BLANK, HOW ABOUT YOU BUILDING YOUR OWN PLAY HOUSE.

YOUR PARTNER, WHO MADE YOU SUCCESSFUL AND RICH, BUILT ATLANTA AND GEORGIA A GREAT FISH BOWL.
Pat H
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December 13, 2012
Mr. Marcus has also generously donated large sums of money to Grady and Shepherd Center, which is now helping many of our injured vets rehab their catastrophic injuries.

He probably has helped in many other ways locally that I am not aware of, a true humanitarian.
Bob Bummer
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December 11, 2012
Why can't the people who are going to own the stadium create a publicly traded company and sell stock? Why must it be done using any tax money? Maybe they should go on Shark Tank and partner with those guys.
Call It Like It Is
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December 11, 2012
New dome really? Why? Packers have played on the same field since 1957 and have 4 rings. The 49's same field since 1971 and they have 5 rings. Falcons, zip, nada, nothing. And yes fans will pay the price. Blank will make you pay for seat licenses than you will get the right to buy season tickets at a hefty increase. Fixing a problem thats not broken.
Connie Mack Jr
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December 11, 2012
No doubt ole Zell has played too much Fantasy football and really believes in Fantasy political funding for the 1% Corporate Boys.....Reality is not his strong point when your Empire is collaping right before your Fantasy eyes when blinded by smoke and mirrors of the 1% Corporate Universe
Kevin Foley
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December 11, 2012
Here's a better idea, Zell. Instead of "investing" $300 million in a playground for millionaires employed by billionaires to replace a perfectly serviceable facility, let's invest $300 million in hiring more teachers, building and improving schools, and making higher education more accessible.
Heywood Jablowme
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December 11, 2012
Here's an even better idea, Kevin. How's about you pipe down so we can get a new stadium that is appropriate for a Major League Soccer team and US national team games. They are funding this stadium simply by extending a hotel guest tax that already exists and is mostly paid by visitors.

The stadium and education are not mutually exclusive. Go out and campaign for education all you want, but don't try to assuage your liberal guilt by attacking this awesome stadium idea. I thought goody two shoes libs were all in favor of extending taxes?
George Middleton
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December 11, 2012
Kevin Foley, you must lead a very miserable life. You are so overtly jealous of those who have been successful in making money. Why don't you take a look at the amount of money the dome has brought into the economy of this area?

I'm not saying now is the time to build another one. It may well be the wrong time; but, dammit man, not every problem we have is caused by rich people and not many problems are going to be solved by taking away their money.

Your constant harping on it only tends to make you appear foolish and immature.
More Foley Baloney
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December 11, 2012
Foley proves the statement that liberal progressives are in a constant state of being angry at something or someone.
Foley Forgets
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December 11, 2012
@Foley

Uhh, Foley, ever hear of the HOPE scholarship? It was the idea of Zell Miller. You should really think, before you talk. Zell Miller was one of the most education oriented governors that Georgia has ever been fortunate to have. Another tip for you Foley, when Zell Miller talks about military affairs, he does know what he is talking about. Unlike you, who never served a day in uniform, Zell Miller served with honor in the U.S. Marine Corps.
Jeff Stevenson
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December 11, 2012
Sorry Kevin,

You should know better than to get in the way of Republicans trying to spend other people's money.
VFP58
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December 12, 2012
@Jeff Stevenson

And in liberal la-la land, Democrats spend only their own money...LOL Next joke please.
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