Invest Atlanta to ethics board: we earned “free” Mercedes-Benz tickets

Invest Atlanta, the city's economic arm, will have to wait to know if it can get its hands on "free" tickets it says the city already paid $220 million for at the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

The city’s ethics board on Thursday delayed a decision on Invest Atlanta’s request to overturn a 2013 rule that prohibits city employees from receiving free passes.

caption arrowCaption
The economic development group says it invested $200 million in the stadium, so its entitled to the seats.

Invest Atlanta wants to be allowed to use premium seat tickets for economic development and says the city negotiated the allowance as part of its deal to contribute more than $220 million to the $1.5 billiion stadium's costs.

“We would like to feature (the stadium) as a component of our recruiting effort,” Invest Atlanta attorey Rosalind Rubens Newell told the board.

The 2013 code reads, “No contract or lease with the city may require passes, tickets or gratuities to be given to officials or employees or permit reduced fees to be paid by officials or employees. The contracting party shall not provide gratuities or prerequisites to any official or employee in connection with execution of or performance under the contract or lease.”

William Perry, president of Georgia Ethics Watchdogs, urged the ethics board to turn down Invest Atlanta’s request, arguing that if it’s public money, then the public should be given access to the “free” premium seats.

Being wined and dined at the new stadium is “not why a new company should come here,” he said.

The board did not say when it will next take up Invest Atlanta’s request.


The AJC's Leon Stafford keeps you updated on the latest in the Atlanta mayoral race and everything else going on at City Hall. You'll find more on, including these stories:

Never miss a minute of what's happening in Atlanta politics. Subscribe to