Atlanta Spent More Than A Billion Dollars On Sports Facilities

There is no 2020 Final Four.  

Big sports events come and go and generally stadiums have one shot at a Super Bowl and the NCAA Men’s Final Four championship games. Atlanta is replicating the Minneapolis experience. Get the public to put up lots of money for a domed football stadium, land a Super Bowl and a Final Four. Then what? Atlanta’s domed football stadium opened two and a half years ago and replaced a stadium that was 24 years old when it was considered antiquated. The stadium got Atlanta two megaevents but when the megaevents leave town what is left? Annually, about 10 NFL games, 17 soccer games, three major concerts and five college football games. That is not much inventory.

Atlanta politicians have used public money again and again to build two baseball stadiums, two football stadiums and two arenas. Nearby Cobb County, Georgia snagged Major League Baseball’s Braves out of Atlanta and the business moved to the suburbs in 2017.  The 1996 Olympics-baseball stadium was downsized and hosts college football. Not too far from the 1996 stadium was the Braves and Falcons’ Atlanta Fulton County Stadium home which opened in 1965 and closed in 1996. The NFL Falcons went to the Georgia Dome in 1992 which closed in 2016. The dome hosted Olympics events in 1996, and was renovated in 2006. The NFL Falcons franchise owner Arthur Blank didn’t take his team very far, the two-and-a-half-year-old place is next to the razed dome’s footprint. The city’s arena which opened in 1999 took the place of the city’s old arena that opened in 1972 in the same spot. The Omni was demolished in 1997, a few months after hosting 1996 Olympic events. Add all the costs up and more than a billion dollars of public money has been spent on Atlanta sports facilities. But the new football stadium got two big events.

(Curtis Compton/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP)
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