House approves tax for new domed stadium

The Georgia House voted 151-13 Monday to pass legislation (HB 903) that will impose a 7 percent hotel-motel tax for a 30-year period to pay for a new domed stadium for the Atlanta Falcons football team.

The bill now moves to the Senate for consideration and probable passage.

Rep. Mark Burkhalter (R-Johns Creek) called the building of a new dome or the renovation of the current Georgia Dome “an engine for economic recovery” that will help the state get going again when the current recession ends.

The Georgia Dome opened in 1992, less than 20 years ago.

“As nice as the Georgia Dome is, it’s the fourth-oldest football facility in all of the NFL,” Burkhalter contended. “You do need to have a first-class, a world-class facility.”

HB 903 provides that the hotel-motel tax, which expires in 2020, will not be renewed until the bonds issued to pay for the Georgia Dome are retired and the World Congress Center Authority has an agreement with the Falcons to remain in Atlanta. The tax would be collected in Atlanta for 30 years, ending in 2050.

There are no bonds in the budget for a new domed stadium, but HB 903 establishes the groundwork for negotiations by the World Congress Center Authority on a new facility, Burkhalter said.

“Before they (the Authority) can expand up or out, they have to resolve whether the Atlanta Falcons stay or go,” he said.

Without a new stadium, he claimed, the Falcons might move to another state. “I can assure you, you don’t want to have that happen here in Georgia,” Burkhalter said.

The World Congress Center Authority is ahead of schedule to retire the bonds issued to pay for the current Georgia Dome. They were originally to be paid off by 2020, but that bond retirement could happen as early as 2015, Burkhalter said.

© 2010 by The Georgia Report

Tags: economic