This morning the Georgia World Congress Center Authority met to approve the non-binding terms of the new stadium deal with the Atlanta Falcons. The meeting only lasted ten minutes, after which the board unanimously rubber-stamped the twenty four page framework. No one on the board had any questions, and there was no discussion of the deal.
During the meeting the public was not given the opportunity for public comment. In fact during the two years that the negotiations have been taking place, they have been given little, if any, opportunity to provide input into a project that will be partially funded with public hotel/motel tax money. CCGA worked to increase public participation by holding a public forum, which was attended by GWCC Executive Director Frank Poe. This was the only opportunity anyone had to voice their concerns and desires for the future of the stadium. As of now, the public has been shut out of the process by both the Falcons and the GWCC.
The next steps for the deal will be for the GWCC and the Falcons to create a Memorandum of Understanding, which will be presented to the City of Atlanta, the Fulton County Commission and the Legislature. The City and County must approve the use of the hotel/motel tax funds. The Legislature must approve the plan and give the GWCC the ability to increase their bond selling capacity.
There is still time for the public to weigh in before the deal is final. We are encouraging the GWCC and the Falcons, as well as the legislature, to give the public the opportunity to weigh in on the deal. This deal will have a major impact on Atlanta residents, Falcons fans, and the general public. Given that there is public money at stake, it is only fair that the public be involved and their wishes be heeded.
For more information on how the process has proceeded view the WSB-TV timeline.