If you would like to Raise Up your voice and support a referendum on stadium spending then sign our online petition!
As you may know, CCGA spent 58 days collecting petition signatures in an attempt to let the people of Atlanta decide if they want up to a billion dollars in public money used to help pay for a new stadium for the Atlanta Falcons. Our deadline to submit 35,000 signatures ended Saturday, August 10th.
The good news – this process has been well worth the effort for us.
The bad news – we will not have enough signatures to force the issue onto the ballot.
As the clock runs out, it appears the “Hail Mary” pass we threw in the air didn’t not result in a touchdown. But as most football fans will tell you, if there is no other option to win a game when your team is down – you have to throw the ball up in the air and try your best – and we did.
Here are a few points to summarize:
- We received so much positive reinforcement from thousands upon thousands of petitions signers, which tells us we attempted to do what most Atlantans and Georgians want,
- We could not collect the required 35,000 thousand signatures due to a lack of time and resources, not from a lack of people wanting the issue on the ballot, and,
- The bottom line is the public does not want their money spent on this stadium without a chance to voice their opinion at the ballot box.
This is an important issue, not just for people who live in Atlanta, but for all Georgians who will be the “owners” of the proposed new stadium. The win we take away from this is we know now more than ever that what we tried was the right thing to do. We were thanked by Georgians a countless number of times throughout our effort and often heard words like “thank you – you are the only ones who stand up for us” or “thanks for doing this – the Mayor [or City Council or Governor] just doesn’t care what we think, but we know Common Cause Georgia does”.
As we worked day in and day out at neighborhood meetings, festivals, farmer’s markets, street corners and busy intersections and anywhere else we could find a gathering of Atlantans, we had no trouble convincing people to sign the petition. Falling short on the numbers we need is not a result of people not caring about the issue or wanting public money to be used to build a stadium. It was more a result of a lack of resources to reach 35,000 people in 60 days.
To put those numbers in perspective, it would take almost 600 signatures per day for 60 days to reach the goal. Also, 35,000 signatures is a higher number than the votes any candidate, including Mayor Reed, received in the last mayoral general election.
When we started this project, we knew we had an almost insurmountable task ahead of us. So much so that not only has there never been a successful referendum drive since it became a possibility in the City of Atlanta in 1996, but no one has ever even tried it. With up to 75% of the public opposed to this project, again, we had to try.
How many signatures?
Unfortunately, the burning question still remains – how many signatures do we have? The short answer is – we still do not know. We have truly focused our efforts on collecting, not counting. Preparing each signature page for submission to the City requires a signed affidavit and notarization of each and every page, which only contain six signature slots per page. We wanted to collect signatures instead of bogging down in that process.
Additionally, we have had about 100 volunteers collecting signatures for us, and those volunteers are still turning in their signed petition pages. But because most people want a number, we are guessing we are in the neighborhood of 10,000 signatures, and we should know our exact number within a few weeks. While this number is obviously well short of what we needed, it is a large representation of the bottom line on this issue. It’s the point Mayor Reed, the Atlanta City Council, the Governor the Georgia World Congress Center and the Falcons’ organization keep missing – the public does not want their money paying for a new stadium to replace the 21 year-old Georgia Dome without a chance to voice their opinion at the ballot box. We hope they soon get the message before its too late!
To learn more about our work on this issue click here.