With two Atlanta sports teams planning to open new stadiums in 2017, both paid for partly with taxpayer dollars, here’s a comparison of the deals hashed out with local government officials:
Braves stadium: An approximately 42,000-seat open-air Cobb County stadium is projected to cost $672 million.
Falcons stadium: An approximately 71,000-seat, retractable-roof downtown stadium is projected to cost $1.2 billion.
Braves stadium: Cobb County will contribute $300 million (plus interest) — 45 percent of the stadium cost. Of that, $276 million will come from bonds to be repaid with a reallocation of existing property tax and hotel-motel tax revenue, a new Cumberland special service district tax, a new Cumberland district hotel-motel tax and a new rental-car tax. (An additional $92 million in bonds will be issued by the county but repaid by the Braves).
Falcons stadium: Bonds backed by an extension of Atlanta’s hotel-motel tax will contribute $200 million — 17 percent of the stadium cost. However, additional hotel-motel tax money will go to the Falcons to help offset costs of maintaining and operating the stadium. By law, 39.3 percent of revenue from the city’s 7-cents-per-dollar hotel-motel tax will go to the stadium, meaning whatever remains each year after debt service will go toward other stadium expenses. According to some projections, that could total hundreds of millions of tax dollars over 30 years.
Braves stadium: The team will contribute $372 million — 55 percent. Of that, $280 million will be paid upfront and the rest through annual payments of $6.1 million that will cover debt service (including interest) on $92 million in bonds. The Braves say they will take on private debt to fund the up-front portion and repay the loan through stadium-generated revenue streams, including naming rights and sponsorship sales.
Falcons stadium: The team, the NFL and personal seat licenses (one-time fees that entitle holders to the right to buy season tickets) will fund $1 billion of the stadium cost — 83 percent. The NFL has committed to $200 million in funding, and the Falcons are on the hook for the remaining $800 million, minus whatever they raise from the sale of personal seat licenses. One study estimated a Falcons seat-license program could bring in $100 million to $200 million. (The Braves say they will not sell seat licenses.) The Falcons also intend to recoup some of their contribution through naming rights and other sponsorships.
Braves stadium: The team will retain all revenue generated from the stadium except for the $6.1 million annually that will repay bonds. That $6.1 million payment is broken down as $3 million in rent, $1.5 million from naming rights revenue, $1.5 million from parking revenue and $100,000 from marquee advertising revenue.
Falcons stadium: The team will retain all revenue but will pay the Georgia World Congress Center Authority $2.5 million in annual rent, escalating 3 percent per year. The GWCCA can use the rent for any purpose.
Braves stadium: The team will be responsible for all routine operating expenses. The team and county will be “jointly responsible” for capital maintenance expenses, eventually including costly items such as replacing scoreboards and seats. The team and county have not released details on how those costs will be shared.
Falcons stadium: The team will be responsible for all operating and capital maintenance expenses but will offset them to some extent with excess hotel-motel tax revenue.
Braves, Falcons stadiums: In both cases, the teams are responsible for covering.
Braves stadium: The stadium and approximately 15 acres will be owned by the Cobb-Marietta Coliseum and Exhibit Hall Authority, while 45 adjoining acres intended as a mixed-use development will be owned by the Braves. The Braves will operate the stadium.
Falcons stadium: The stadium and surrounding land will be owned by the Georgia World Congress Center Authority. The Falcons will operate the stadium.
Braves, Falcons stadiums: Both teams will commit to play in the stadiums for 30 years. As of 2017, when the teams plan to move into the new venues, the Braves will have played in Turner Field for 20 years and the Falcons in the Georgia Dome for 25.
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