World Congress Center officials have said over the course of negotiations that they didn't necessarily need a new venue, but that Blank pushed the issue because he wanted an open-air stadium. They said the fear was not that Blank would leave Atlanta but that he'd build his own stadium, taking the state's anchor client and becoming a competitor for other events.
They also said the public investment is less than what would have to be spent on Georgia Dome upgrades in the next few decades. So, they reason, the public is basically financing the cost of the retractable roof to keep all sides happy.
In a nod to criticism over public financing of stadiums for privately owned sports franchises, he argued that the terms are more favorable to the public "than any other stadium deal in the last 10 years."
The annual debt payments will be $12 million to $13 million at current market conditions, he said. The lowest annual total from the hotel-motel tax in the last decade, he said, is $15 million.
The mayor, a former legislator, said the "political reality" is that lawmakers have earmarked the tax for a stadium and would not agree to direct it anywhere else. "It sounds great to say we could spend the money or schools or on roads," he said, "but that's just not the case."
Blank's commitment to infrastructure, meanwhile, is considerably less than Reed's previous estimates of those improvements, which he's tagged at as much as $200 million. The mayor said Thursday he believes the Falcons' $50 million will be sufficient.
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.