ATLANTA -- The new Falcons stadium deal is under attack. Common Cause Georgia is now fully opposed to the project and is telling the Falcons to put the brakes on it and get the public more involved in what's going on.
"We are opposed to any public financing of a new stadium in downtown Atlanta," Common Cause board member Wyc Orr said during a news conference in downtown Atlanta.
Common Cause believes that more public input is needed and claims that everything has been done behind closed doors.
"You're left very clearly with the negotiating parties excluding the public while including the public's money," Orr said.
The Falcons and the Georgia World Congress Center want a deal before year's end and have already hammered out the terms. The $1.2 billion dollar project would need as much $300 million dollars in public money, which would come from a special tax on hotels and motels. The deal could also involve giving up $25 million dollars with sales tax forgiveness on new construction materials. Also, there are unknown costs, like how much it would cost Atlanta taxpayers to provide the necessary infrastructure.
"The Mayor of Atlanta has said that there is an unknown amount of money that will come with the cost of infrastructure improvements. Well, could you imagine the legislature to pass a bill and saying we don't know exactly how much it will cost until you pass it?" said Common Cause Executive Director, William Perry.
Common Cause is demanding that before an agreement is signed, an independent economic impact study should be done, the full terms of the agreement should be published, and the public should have 90 days to comment.
Georgia World Congress Center spokesperson, Jennifer LeMaster, told 11Alive that an economic impact study was done and that the public has been involved.
Polls indicate that the majority of the public opposes public financing for a private stadium. However, the Georgia World Congress Center says it's trying to achieve the best deal for taxpayers that would keep the Falcons in Atlanta. LeMaster made it clear, the Falcons will be moving out of the Georgia Dome in 5 years and that could mean moving to the suburbs, if the proposed deal falls apart.
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Email response from Georgia World Congress Center:
The GWCCA is committed to promoting transparency and accessibility in all areas of our business - not just as it relates to the new stadium project. Our full Board of Governors meets once monthly during a regularly scheduled time that is posted up to a year in advance. Other committee meetings are also scheduled on an as-needed basis and all are open to the public. All meeting agendas are posted no less than 24 hours in advance and meeting minutes are recorded and posted for public consumption. In addition, a stadium development microsite was established to archive our efforts making the public's access to information on Atlanta's proposed new stadium project unprecedented.
CCGA holds no elected position as a representative of the public and has only attended one of literally dozens of open meetings that have been held during these negotiations. As with any private citizen, they are entitled to their opinion and we respect their right to share it with the press.
Our objective, however, remains the same...to protect and provide for the best interests of the Authority and the State of Georgia and its residents.
We will have no further comment on any current or future demands made by CCGA.
Jennifer LeMaster| Director of Communications