You’re welcome, Mr. Blank.

Maybe it’s the libertarian in me.  Maybe it’s the reaction I had yesterday listening to a mom who works in my office complain that the public high school her son will be attending next year requires payment of a thousand dollars for him to participate in the band while the state legislature continues to whack the hell out of the education budget…

The recession and a sluggish economic recovery, meanwhile, crunched Georgia’s state budget and forced deep cuts into areas like education. The state owes local school districts more than $5 billion collectively — Atlanta-area school districts are millions of dollars short. In 2011, the state cut $403 million from its education budget after taking cuts of $300 million and $275 million in the previous two years.

… but the idea that the state is going to hand over $300 million dollars in tax revenue so the Falcons can enjoy a new, more profitable home offends the crap out of me.  Jeff Schultz is right – it’s not that Arthur Blank is a villain or merely even a lousy owner – the Georgia Dome works just fine.  If the Falcons want to make more money, Blank should do it the old-fashioned way.

Of course, who am I kidding here?  Not myself, certainly.  Blank is doing it the old-fashioned way.  It’s just another reflection of our out-sized vision of the role of organized sports in our society and our government as enabler of same.  It’s how you get college football coaches who are routinely among the highest paid state employees across the country.  We may not get the priorities we deserve, but we do tend to get the ones we like.

Just remember to take some pride in it when the first SECCG rolls into town at the new facility (which will boast less seating than the Dome, by the way).  After all, in one form or fashion, you will have helped pay for it.

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118 Comments

Filed under It's Just Bidness, Political Wankery

118 responses to “You’re welcome, Mr. Blank.

  1. JudgeDawg

    If the new place offers fewer seats for the SECCG than JerryWorld or the Superdome look for those cities to use that fact to try to take the game when the contract expires.

    • The Dome already offers less seating than the venues you mention. Don’t think that will be much of a factor.

      • 81Dog

        it’ll be a revenue factor. Hard to see how it will help fend off Jerry’s advances, in particular.

        Mike Adams would endorse playing the game Unalaska if he thought the SEC could squeeze and extra $100 per school out of the deal. I doubt any of the other bean counters running SEC schools (or any other school in any other conference) are much different. If a facility isnt prepared to avoid getting cash whipped by the likes of Jerry Jones, it’s gonna be a problem.

  2. Always Someone Else's Fault

    Wasn’t the Georgia Dome built for the 96 Olympics, making it less than 20 years old? What are they going to do, tear it down?

    How is it people are still watching baseball games in stadiums almost 100 years old, but football and basketball have to have new venues on the public dime every generation?

    • What are they going to do, tear it down?

      Well, that is exactly their new plan. Tear it down and build another right in its place.

      • Cojones

        I thought they were going to change the dome to one that would retract. Didn’t know anymore des/con was planned.

    • BMan

      It was built/opened in 90 or 91, seemingly to keep the Smith family from entertaining an offer from Jacksonville to move the franchise.

      • Normaltown Mike

        Plus the Atlanta skyline was suffering from an absence of peach and aqua blue/green roof lines. It was a no brainer.

      • Joe Taxpayer

        You’re close. It actually opened in 92.

        Like many others, I’m sick and tired of tax money being spent on new stadiums when the ones they’re replacing are still in great shape.

        • Will (the other one)

          What’s really galling is that in the AJC article the other day, Blank’s spokesman came out and said it was because the Dome didn’t have enough luxury boxes.
          And you can bet your arse the new stadium will come with PSLs too, if it happens.

  3. Rick

    Ultimately, it’s hard to get too worked up if there is a reasonable return on investment. I assumed the ROI for coaches salaries was respectable, although recent research suggests otherwise when it comes to the big ticket head coaches.

    I am far more skeptical of the return the city will get on the stadium. It would be one thing if the team were threatening to leave, but I haven’t heard the faintest suggestion of that. How could a new possibly stadium recoup $300m revenue above what the (still very nice to my eyes) georgia dome offers?

    • fuelk2

      I’m quite ignorant on this point, but I’ve got to think the construction of the facility and associated activity will result in some level of recovery for the local and state government. Maybe not a full recovery, but some anyway.

      • Rick

        Do you mean tax revenue increases from new employment for construction? I would be interested to see those estimates, but you’d have to employ and awful lot of folks to recoup $300m when the maximum marginal income tax rate is only 6%. I’m sure there are other taxes involved along the way, but $300m is approaching 2% of the total annual state budget. Could it really generate that much revenue?

      • Hackerdog

        http://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/governmentfunded-stadiums-not-worth-price-admission
        “Robert Baade and Allen Sanderson looked at a dozen metropolitan areas for The Heartland Institute and found no net employment hike. Separately Baade reviewed 36 cities and found no net statistical increase in economic growth.”

        • Rick

          Excellent link, thanks. If nothing else, we should at least have made Blank suggest that the Falcons were looking to relocate so that we know we’re maximizing the private contribution. Sigh….agreeing with Jeff Schultz actually causes me physical pain.

        • Rick

          On second thought, that’s Cato (a mostly reasonable libertarian tank) citing a study from Heartland (a firmly loony tank). On first read I thought they were citing some generic academic study. That’s not to say Heartland is wrong, but their batting average is low enough that I wouldn’t put much stock in their analyses.

    • Cosmic Dawg

      This is *somewhat* akin to the “broken window theory” – that is, if you want to boost the economy, start breaking windows so the glass man will employ some people. It’s a fallacy. Additionally, even if it did result in a net economic positive, you are still taking money from taxpayer Peter to the benefit of freeloading (in a very real sense) Paul – redistributing it to special interests who are the receivers of the net positive, which I think is morally indefensible.

      Why does Arthur Blank get x dollars instead of all the state’s coffee houses getting some percentage of x dollars to keep *their* employees and customers extra happy? Wouldn’t the impact (and risk) be more dispersed? In fact, since Blank already employs most of those people (except the construction workers – see broken window fallacy above) why should we pay him to keep the same jobs around? Wouldn’t the better incentive be to find those people who were on the fence about starting a business, or businesses that were well-run but in danger of failing, and give them a grant to keep them around?

      You want to use the force of the state to make me subsidize your business? If anyone threatens to take their ball and go to Jacksonville, my response is screw you and your extortion, take them to Jacksonville – we’ll have the Panthers here before you can blink…

      It’s the libertarian in me, too – or you can just call it American if you prefer.

      • Mayor of Dawgtown

        You make an excellent point. If Blank were to leave Atlanta one of the other franchises would be here the next day. In fact there likely would be a line forming. There are several teams that would probably prefer Atlanta over where they are now, the Panthers being only one. The Georgia Dome is a better facility than most NFL teams have now anyway and Atlanta is a better sports town than a lot of other places.

        • You say that, Mayor, but people in Los Angeles thought the same thing about their city.

          Sometimes there’s real value in leaving a major city without a franchise as a blackmail threat to other cities.

  4. paul

    Well, I work in higher ed so I guess you know how I feel. I am a huge sports fan, but these franchises can easily afford to finance their venues. I see no reason why, in a state that consistently ranks 48th in the nation in education, we should be hammering the schools budgets while we subsidize millionaires. All taxpayers suffer when our population is not properly educated.

    • Normaltown Mike

      If you want Georgia to rank higher in education, send all the students in Georgia to Vermont and take all the kids from Vermont down to Georgia and voila! Georgia ranks tops in the nation.

      • 81Dog

        can we make that trade? How many Vermont kids can run a 4.3 in the 40? If there aren’t many, how can we blame that on Mike Bobo?

    • Rick

      Also, isn’t that ranking based on SAT scores, such that the states which encourage all of their students to take it rank at the bottom without exception? Georgia may well be 48th by a more reasonable measure, but the fact that such a ranking even exists when it doesn’t control for the quality of students taking the test in each state is just silly.

  5. If it is necessary for an NFL franchise to remain competitive, then why doesn’t the NFL subsidize the replacement of stadiums themselves? After all, with the revenue sharing, any revenue generated directly by the Falcons is shared with the Jaguars, Seahawks, etc. It is in their interest for the Falcons to have a state-of-the-art facility to maximize their revenues. They could replace one stadium every year, and that would put stadiums on a 32-year cycle for replacement. That seems reasonable to me.

  6. Scorpio Jones, III

    I thought the NFL Business was like….a business? I don’t think government should…oh, wait…Osama is dead, right? and GM is alive…right? Course generally speaking, the bailout did not work to leverage the interest of big guys who get paid to beat hell out of each other….ah phooey, Bobo should be fired.

  7. Go Dawgs!

    LEAVE, Arthur Blank. If you think LA or some other city will give you a better home for your Falcons, get the hell out of here. I wouldn’t lose a minute’s sleep if the Falcons followed the Thrashers on up to Canada. I like the team and I watch them every fall, but if they’re demanding a new stadium when their current stadium is barely old enough to order a beer, I say screw them. I’m sorry you can’t manage to make money in the Georgia Dome. We’re not going to mortgage the future of our state to build your team a stadium every twenty years when the reality is that most people in our state are bigger college football fans to begin with! This is not the time to dip your hands into the public coffers so you can make private gains. Mr. Blank, I suggest opening your wallet in much the same way Jerry Jones did and bankrolling this yourself. Open up your ownership group to new investors. Unless you plan on sharing profits with the citizens of Atlanta and Georgia, I say kiss my ass and take your team to Los Angeles.

    • Go Dawgs!

      Incidentally, Sanford Stadium is 83 years old and is a parking nightmare compared to your Georgia Dome which is located next to multiple surface lots and a mass transit rail line. Sanford Stadium is also located at least a 45 minute ride (in the best of times) away from every major interstate. It rakes in the cash every fall and is filled to its 93,000 seat capacity every game day. Perhaps there’s a way to make money in the Georgia Dome?

    • Rick

      I was going to point out that he built us a nice aquarium, but apparently that was the other home depot fella.

      • Go Dawgs!

        Hey, I like Arthur Blank. I’m glad that he owns the Falcons. I firmly believe that they’d still be the football equivalent of dog excrement had he not bought them. But enough’s enough. They’re a wealthy team and he’s a wealthy man. The state of Georgia doesn’t exist to enrich him further.

  8. scrambledawg

    Here’s the abject stupidity of the entire thing…..There is NO WAY to tear down the Dome after the CFA Bowl and have a new dome in place for the CFA Classic Labor Day – or even the SECCG and CFA Bowl the following December. So, what you’re doing is forcing the SEC to find a new home for their championship game – albeit temporarily(they hope)- AND 2 CFA sponsored games. All so Artie can have more cash and the ATL can get it’s super bowl again. Stupid is as stupid does. We’ll lose the SECCG as it’s permanent home and get it on a rotating basis because of this AND we’ll lose a year of CFA revenue, plus other Dome events like concerts and hoops tourneys.

    • They don’t intend to build the new stadium on the site of the Dome.

      • scrambledawg

        I misunderstood the AJC’s orig article then….it implied that they would demolish the dome and build the new stadium in its place. This whole thing makes little sense, but that (at least) makes more sense than building the new stadium in place of the ‘old’ dome.

    • Governor Milledge

      Who knows, the city could decide that the present location works best and decide to do a tear and rebuild. The Falcons did play at Bobby Dodd in the past

  9. Normaltown Mike

    You can’t fix stupid. And friends, Atlanta & it’s pro sports team decisions have always focused on stupid.

    (1) There was zero reason to tear down Fulton Co. stadium after the ’96 season, but it happened. It could’ve been used for tractor pulls, high school football and summer concerts. Instead it’s a parking lot. Awesome.

    (2) Turner field was, stupidly, built off of MARTA. Here’s a sport that hosts 81 home games. 81 opportunities for people to hop on an underused train and ride to a game. Alas, the city “leaders” didn’t want to see Mechanicsville lose the all important “park in my front yard business” so they didn’t relocate the new stadium to a more convenient spot (LIKE OLYMPIC PARK YOU IDIOTS!!!).

    (3) The OMNI was torn down after what, about 25 years? Again, why? Phillips is a great venue and could have built too. But the OMNI could, again, be home for concerts, high school graduations, Georgia State basketball, etc.

    I hope this is a stalking horse by Blank and he builds his own damn stadium, wherever he pleases. Be it Doraville, Dunwoody or the Six Flags parking lot. Sadly, I don’t think our “leaders” have the cojones to say “no” to this extortion.

    • scrambledawg

      Turner Field was built on Maynard Jackson’s property. That’s all you need to know. Effing thief. It disgusts me that the airport (and new terminal) honor him. Goddamn crook IYAM.

    • Will (the other one)

      Agree with #2, and part of #3 but…
      HS football already had the Dome for playoffs. The Dome also hosted all the truck rallies and motorcross events. Was there that much nostalgia for a pretty ugly stadium that would’ve sucked down money just keeping it up? Outdoor shows already had Lakewood and Chastain, depending on the demographic they wanted.
      And having been to a few concerts at the OMNI…the acoustics were terrible there.

  10. Coz

    The hotel tax (tourism tax) will be the source of the $300MM. You don’t use a tourism tax to fund education because people certainly don’t come to Georgia to see how educated we are. You use tourism tax dollars to fund projects that will, in turn, bring more visitors here. Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium was torn down (not a minute too soon) after 30 years. The Dome will have been used for 25 or 26 years by time they transition to the new stadium. They pinched pennies and built the Dome on the cheap and now it is dated. The cost estimate to renovate the Dome came in at $860MM vs $948MM for a new stadium. There will be an additional 20,000+ expanded seating capacity for events like the SECCG. If this stadium isn’t built, you can bet your a$$ that Jerry Jones will make a bid for the SECCG that the SEC can’t refuse. I’m a fiscal conservative, but I recognize that you have to invest to get a return, and this is an investment. BTW, the state actually made money on their investment in the GA Dome.

    • Normaltown Mike

      not a minute too soon?

    • I’m a fiscal conservative, but I recognize that you have to invest to get a return, and this is an investment. BTW, the state actually made money on their investment in the GA Dome.

      Everybody’s a fiscal conservative until it comes to the government doing things they want. ;)

      • rocksalt76

        I’m a fiscal conservative, and I expect Blank and the NFL to pony up 100% of the money. Actually, I’m ashamed(?) to admit that when I heard that the gubmint would be coming up with $300MM to subsidize this thing I thought: there’s nothing else that this city/state needs right now that costs $300MM? Nothing?

      • Bingo! Circle gets the square!

        It’s kind of the reverse of the “Not In My Backyard” phenomenon — “Not In HIS Backyard,” i.e. spend your government $$ in mine.

    • Normaltown Mike

      “You don’t use a tourism tax to fund education”

      Bullshit.

      “Generally speaking, cities levying a hotel-motel tax at a rate of at least 5 percent may use the hotel-motel tax revenues equaling revenues that would be collected at the rate of 3 percent for general fund purposes…”

      http://www.gmanet.com/MDR.aspx?CNID=20763

      • Rick

        Have to agree here. Taxes go on the revenue side of the ledger, full stop. What happens to that money after it’s in government coffers is unrelated.

        • Coz

          http://www.tourismdevelopmentalliance.org/HotelTaxInfo.html

          “A Few of the Ways the Tax Is being used in Georgia

          100% of these taxes are expended at the local level. The taxes have many uses which include:
          Tourism Promotion;
          Support for Convention Centers, Trade Show Facilities, Museums, & Theaters;
          Development of Pedestrian & Bike Paths within Communities; and
          Funding the Services provided to the Citizens of Georgia by local City and County Governments.
          Over 210 local governments are currently collecting hotel taxes. These tax receipts exceed $200 million per year.

          In 2004, the Georgia General Assembly passed, and Governor Perdue signed, legislation that adds enforcement and accountability measures to insure these taxes are being used for their intended purposes. Read more about HB1415 and how these changes will impact your community.”

          • Rick

            Perhaps I should have specified that my position was normative, not positive :)

          • Mayor of Dawgtown

            In Cobb County they had a Special Local Option Sales Tax referendum a few years ago to authorize 1% to be added to the sales tax there to raise funds for “educational purposes.” The stated purpose was to raise money for the construction of some new schools. Instead the School Board voted to spend the money on putting artificial turf in at the stadiums of every HS in the county. A citizens group challenged that in court and the court ruled against them allowing the money to be spent for the new turf. Once the money is in the hands of the politicians they spend it for whatever purpose that they really want and can halfway justify. It then becomes a problem for the public to make the politicians do right and it is damn tough to do that successfully.

    • Cosmic Dawg

      Sorry, but I’m not feeling that you are much of a fiscal conservative. It’s not like we *must* have a “tourism” tax at all (“well, we have to build a peach shaped rocket since we put on that space tax…”) – so the idea that we can’t spend that money however we want is nuts, of course.

      And you are right, people don’t visit GA to party for a few days because of our schools, but they also don’t move here to be productive taxpayers for years – *because of our schools*. Which do you consider the better investment? Which do you consider to be more in line with the consensus notion of the appropriate function of government? Which do you think has the most influence on a business thinking of relocating to, say, Columbus or Valdosta?

      I want to know why you think it’s okay to selectively fund one person’s vision of so-called economic growth with tax dollars but not somebody else’s. Why do I have to fund Arthur Blank’s team – why isn’t he helping to fund my awesome solar powered dog roller skates idea and another 3000 small businesses across GA with his tax money? Is it because the total impact of a new stadium (when one already exists!) vs 3000 new businesses is remarkably different, or because Blank has the ear of the legislature and I don’t? That’s an easy one, isn’t it?

  11. SC DAWG

    I don’t disagree with you about the apparent, at least on the surface, stupidity of spending this kind of money on a new sporting venue given the current economy. I say on the surface, because if they can show, unequivocally, measured by dollars and dollars only, an economic impact that the new venue will cause that creates a return that would make the deal acceptable to the private sector over a defined term or period of time. But to suggest that this money should be going to a public school system, rife with scandal and waste, is a joke. America spens more $ per student than any country in the world and yest ranks in the bottom half of all countries in almost every major, measurable category. Libertarian? Most libertarians I know don’t believe that throwing more money at the problem is the answer.

    • First off, my bet is that most people you know who claim to be libertarians… aren’t.

      Second, I wasn’t saying take the tax money and spend it on public education. What I was saying is that if you’re pleading poverty (and note how much the state is in the hole to local systems on education money), it doesn’t make any sense to be handing over any tax dollars to a very rich man to make him richer.

      • SC DAWG

        “make a rich man richer”? Wow, speaking of class warfare. Again, so far your score on the Libertarian scale is about a 0 out of 10. It’s okay to admit when you havent thought all the way through an issue.

        • You honestly believe it’s the function of government to partner with a private businessman for the purpose of enhancing his bottom line? What happened to all that high-minded talk on the right about the government not picking winners and losers?

          If this is such a fabulous bottom line deal, why does Blank need the state to pitch in?

          • SC DAWG

            You are displaying amazing short term memory loss….I go back to my original post which said, “I don’t disagree with you about the apparent, at least on the surface, stupidity of spending this kind of money on a new sporting venue given the current economy. I say on the surface, because if they can show, unequivocally, measured by dollars and dollars only, an economic impact that the new venue will cause that creates a return that would make the deal acceptable to the private sector over a defined term or period of time.” This is the only way goverment should ever contemplate deal like this…if they can get a return on the bond, demonstrated bya dollars in dollars out impact study, that would be acceptable to the private sector, then it is worth considering. Again, what I took issue with was your use of the public school system as an example of where this money could/should be going…as a liberterian, I would think that you would be able to come up with about a million economic development opportunities to use as examples.

            • Again, what I took issue with was your use of the public school system as an example of where this money could/should be going…as a liberterian, I would think that you would be able to come up with about a million economic development opportunities to use as examples.

              Except I never said that… maybe you should drop the short term memory loss sarcasm.

            • Rick

              I think he was referring to money owed to the school system, in which case it’s not so much “education” as “servicing debt”, which I think the 99% of the political spectrum would say is a worthwhile expenditure.

            • Hackerdog

              Your point about government involvement in business is a non-starter. If the government could prove that the return on investment is reasonable enough for the private sector to invest money, then the private sector would be investing money and the government wouldn’t be needed.

              It’s precisely because the ROI is too low for the private sector that Blank needs the government to pitch in.

          • Rick

            I think SC DAWG saw the word ‘rich man’ and his brain went in to lock down. You should have just said ‘make a private citizen richer’.

            • SC DAWG

              You’re right, you said this…”while the state legislature continues to whack the hell out of the education budget”…

              And then used this to further illustrate your point…

              The recession and a sluggish economic recovery, meanwhile, crunched Georgia’s state budget and forced deep cuts into areas like education. The state owes local school districts more than $5 billion collectively — Atlanta-area school districts are millions of dollars short. In 2011, the state cut $403 million from its education budget after taking cuts of $300 million and $275 million in the previous two years.

              Please explain the difference of using another source to make your point versus tyng it yourself?…guess my brain went into lockdown. Hard to retract the written word….errrr, copy and pasted word.

              • Rick

                Again, that quote is about servicing debt, in this case debt owed to the education system. If you want to argue for cuts, that’s sort of a separate argument, the point is that there are outstanding obligations that could do with a hundred million or three.

                I will say this about the band thing – I was in a marching band in high school that charged a similar amount and, while that amount made for a far more enjoyable and enriching experience, there is no way in hell that much money is necessary to fund a band that only plays football games.

              • The state can’t pay its legitimate obligations to school systems, but it can toss $300 million in tax revenue to Arthur Blank. That’s all I’m bitching about.

                If you can’t grasp the logic behind that, it’s because you’re ideologically constipated. Which means there’s no point in continuing this discussion… except to note that this “study” you cling to as a life preserver to justify the transaction doesn’t exist (or they’d be trumpeting it to the skies) even though they’re already lined up to make the revenue commitment.

          • rocksalt76

            +infinity. If you want to spur revenue for the area by spending $300MM, then declare a multi-year tax holiday on new capital expenditures, guarantees on small business loans, etc. That way, everyone has an opportunity to play, and everyone has an opportuity to win.

            Further to my post above, I’m 100% conservative. But to me that means the only “help” the government offers is to take itself out of the way of business owners as much as possible. If that helps Arthur Blank, fine. If that helps Moe Sizlak, fine.

        • Cosmic Dawg

          He’s not begrudging Blank’s freedom to make a ton of money – he’s arguing that Blank should not be able to extort from his neighbors at the point of a gun (taxes) the funds to make that money.

          The Senator is further suggesting that when the appropriate functions of the state are at stake (state highways, schools, etc) and it is not meeting its existing obligations, then using taxes to fund private enterprise becomes *especially* egregious.

          It’s okay to admit you haven’t properly read and understood the Senator’s comments all the way through, but he’s 10 for 10 on the libertarian scale.

      • paulwesterdawg

        Amen. If it’s a good deal for ATL, then it would be a good deal for Blank to fund himself. The idea that the tourism tax is paying for it is hilarious. Because those are most definitely tourism tax revenues that could be used to solve other problems in this state.

        Then again you’re talking about a State Gov’t that so poorly run that it refuses to recognize low hanging fruit opportunities to raise ENORMOUS amounts of money with minimal b*tching from the citizens.

        For instance, Georgia citizens who smoke pay less than all but 6 other states for a pack of smokes. They pay less than half the price of a pack in New York State.

        Georgian’s pay $0.37 per pack in taxes. The national average is $1.46. While New Yorker’s pay $4.35/pack.

        Raising to the national average would raise about $350 million.

        BTW – that’s enough to fund Mr. Blank’s stadium request. Or pay for the salaries of about 5,500 teachers, firemen, cops, whatever.

        And yes…I’m a republican. But you do have to have revenue to fund programs that keep the lights on.

        • Rick

          You moderate republicans with your rational evaluations of a complex world make me sick.

        • Biggus Rickus

          Yeah, screw smokers. They’re an unpopular minority who are largely middle class to poor. They should definitely pay.

          • paulwesterdawg

            Biggus — the poor smokers are EXACTLY the ones who shouldn’t be smoking. Because the State pays their healthcare to the tune of about $10 per pack in healthcare cost per pack. If I had my way….You should have to pay your own healthcare out of your own pocket full boat to be allowed to buy Smokes. You wouldn’t get coverage from your employer or the State.

            • Biggus Rickus

              That strikes me as counterintuitive. I would like to see a study that includes the shorter life span on average for smokers rather than those that compare costs at comparable ages. For example, a person who dies of cancer at 58 because he smoked will cost tax payers far less than someone who lives a healthy lifestyle and dies at 88.

              • Cojones

                How about an unhealthy life style and still doesn’t die until 88? I’m trying to fill that stat.

                Smok’em if you got’um.

              • Biggus Dickus

                Bro, that guy who died from lung cancer at 58 cost you, me and everybody else $200,000 in medical expenses before he expired because he had no health insurance and he went for treatment for free to a public hospital paid for by tax dollars. He had chemo and radiation therapy, the whole 9 yards. The doctors were about to do a lung transplant on him when he died which would have gotten the bill up to $500,000.

            • Rick

              Paul, I agree with your original point, but where are you getting that statistic? Most (perhaps not all?) of the research shows that smoking is a net saver of government healthcare dollars because premature deaths save a good chunk of change that would have spent caring for a person in retirement. Lung cancer/guardianship of orphans is expensive, but not as expensive as years of nursing care followed by cancer or heart disease or whatever non-smoking related death the person would have died from otherwise. Planet Money did a story on this (links to research at the bottom).

              Of course, tobacco companies found out that trumpeting such results was not a great idea, which I think is just. If raising the excise tax causes a few poor people to stop smoking (when they can’t afford as it stands anyway), I won’t lose sleep over it.

              • Biggus Rickus

                But if they stop smoking you lose the revenue stream, which was the original point. So you either impose a very regressive tax or you lose the money. Neither seems all that appealing to me.

                • Rick

                  Well, you don’t lose all the money, and it encourages a behavior that leaves less orphans (which I favor, but only because I personally dislike orphans). I can stand a little regressivity for Pigovian taxes, as opposed to regressive taxes which encourage a destructive behavior (like the lottery).

                  • Biggus Rickus

                    Are smokers leaving behind vast swaths of orphans? I mean, most people who die from smoking are in middle age or later, so either they’re having kids really late or this isn’t that large a problem.

                    • Rick

                      Good point, probably not too many. I must admit they are well outnumbered by grown children, widows, widowers, friends, parents, sisters, brothers, etc. So no biggie.

                    • Cojones

                      AND, they get to compete for the Darwin Award!

              • Biggus Dickus

                Hey, under this line of logic we should be giving out free cigarettes to everybody starting with grade school kids. that way they would all croak prematurely and we wouldn’t as a society have to pay for their retirement.

                • Biggus Rickus

                  Not sure if anyone will see this at this point, but I was merely responding to idea that smokers should be taxed because they impose a larger burden on taxpayers through medical care, which is unproven at best. I wasn’t advocating that people should smoke, though I don’t care whether or not they do.

            • Will (the other one)

              But once you start in with the sin taxes, what’s to keep the hard-lobbying Bible-thumping types from slapping a tax on my beloved booze?

              • Cojones

                Nothing. Pot ain’t taxed yet except in Co. Course you could buy up enough liquor now to last you for the rest of your planned life (except for the day when a Voice says “Hold that thought!” into perpetuity). It ages well. Don’t buy beer and white wine because they don’t work that way and you will be running up the price on me. And leave the tequila alone!

  12. Coz

    Also, the City of Dallas definitely regrets not stepping up to match the $300MM that Arlington offered. If given the choice again, they would have gladly pitched in the $300MM.

    • Bourbon Dawgwalker

      We are talking about the state, not the city. Also, I don’t think Macon is going to pony up any cash to lure the Falcons away.

      • shane#1

        Macon, Macon is as broke, maybe even a little broker than Albany, and when your shirttail is shorter than Albany’s you are sucking wind. BTW, I am a little sick of sending money to build shit in Atlanta when I live in the poorest part of the state. Take Atlanta money if you have to take tax dollars and leave us alone. Southwest Ga. is broke and I am badly bent myself.

  13. wnc dawg

    Senator, I didn’t know you hated America, hippie. I am older and therefore know more about everything because you are young and naive. Taxes are bad, government can’t do anything right, and stop showing your ignorance by hating the super rich. I plan on being super rich one day and when that day comes, I don’t want people saying I can’t get better deals than everyone else. Oh, and 18 year old kids should always know right from wrong as defined by my social perspective.

    There, I think I covered most all of the regular political rationals here that are repackaged 100 different ways.

    • Cojones

      Watch it, wnc. You too can be called a “liberal”. Then what would you do; labeled in life for arguing with a conservative?

  14. Silver Creek Dawg

    I’ll describe the scenario here that I described yesterday in the comments section after Schultz’s column,

    For those of us that are fiscally conservative, the thought of giving $300 million to AB to help fund a new stadium is repulsive. But look at it from the city’s POV.

    If AB builds his own facility outside the city of Atlanta (and assuming he gets other private developers to create necessary amenities like hotels, a small convention center, etc.), then he immediately goes into competition with the GWCC Authority for the SECCG, Final Four (here next year, BTW), Chick-Fil-A Bowl and Kickoff Game(s), SEC BB Tournament, NCAA Regionals, GHSA football finals, plus concerts, Supercross, etc. Being that it’s a newer, more luxurious facility, all these events move. The GWCC Authority now has a large, underused facility that costs millions to maintain with one tenant (GA State football). Does anyone think the GWCC Authority will let that nightmare scenario happen for one minute? I do not.

    It goes back to “You gotta spend money to make money.”

    • DawgPhan

      The new stadium in Atlanta already puts AB in competition with the GWCC folks. Ab wants a piece of the action around the stadium, beer, parking, food, merch and all that…right now AB is not seeing that money, he wants to get a piece of that.

      • Silver Creek Dawg

        I understand that. My scenario is for two stadiums in metro Atlanta.

        • DawgPhan

          The point is that regardless of where he gets a new stadium, the GWCC folks are going to be giving up something? I fail to see why the state should be paying for a competitor to take money from them.

    • Cosmic Dawg

      I see your point from a political standpoint, but again:

      > Why shouldn’t Blank build his stadium in the place it will perform best, according to the market, *without* govt incentives? Why incentivize him to build in a subpar location? Why do we think the free market works great for bread and clothes but not for stadiums and bankers?!? Why don’t we subsidize all sorts of businesses to move downtown? Isn’t the *state* doing enough to subsidize downtown with the capitol, GSU, all the various state agencies, etc?

      > Why should the *state* taxpayers who live in the areas where Blank *might* build his new stadium subsidize their GWCC competition in Atlanta?! It’s one thing if Atlanta wants to compete with Macon, it’s quite another thing for Atlanta to force Macon taxpayers to spend money against their best interests!

  15. No One Knows You're a Dawg

    I wonder how many legistlators are going to regret approving that $300M tax extension? Talk about tea-ing up an election year issue.

    Also, I support public education but no extracurricular activity should have costs of over $1,000 per participant.

    • Cosmic Dawg

      You can hope, but both Chambliss and Isakson voted for the bailouts and they’re both still here….I doubt people will treat their state reps differently. Amazing, really – people just vote Red or Blue, they don’t follow or seem to much care what the people do once they get in, as long as the side wearing their jersey is winning.

      (Obama votes for bailouts instead of soup kitchens, Bush votes for prescription drug bill. Both actions in complete opposition to the core principles of their parties.)

  16. Debby Balcer

    In the state of Georgia it is illegal to require any student to pay to participate so that mother could sue the school district. Our band boosters had suggested contributions but if someone didn’t pay they still got to play. I support public education 100% and don’t get why people don’t realize that if we are hurting ourselves as well as our future with the constant cuts. I can’t believe in todays economy that Blank would ask for a new stadium but I am sure he will get it. I am a conservative but not tea party.

    • Slaw Dawg

      Agree 100%. Georgia “boasts” one of the nation’s lowest composite SAT scores (47th, I think). Even taking into account the relatively high percentage of SAT test takers, only 1 state (of 4) with a higher percentage of test takers has a lower total average score. And the drop out rate is a damn shame–41% don’t graduate, putting Georgia again at 47th. That’s tied (with SC) for the worst in the South.

      I don’t want government’s big snoot where it doesn’t belong, but it belongs in education, just like it belongs in road building and national defense. So I don’t see the libertarian issue here unless we decide to wholly privatize education.

      Mr. Blank’s vision is a “nice to have” that he can bring back up when the good times are rollin’ again. But they are less likely to roll if we don’t have the educated workforce to make it happen.

  17. Cojones

    Mike- Sorry about the shots at the Fla legislature and what it cost your University. Ga and Fl legislators look like two peeds in a pot.

    I call this the Cheney/LeMay economy. Instead of bombing back to the stone age, the legislators just pass laws against education that approximate the stone age.

    Sorry to leave. Have to go make a larger stone axe than the local politicians use.

  18. It’s funny hearing a so called libertarian talk about an obligation to state funded schools

  19. Just Chuck

    Bottom line on this, I think is that Arthur Blank is a Capitalist and a very good one. Capitaism (simplified) is all about maximizing inclme and minimizing costs. Don’t blame him for asking for a new stadium and negotiating in public to get it. However, if the city caves and spends a lot of taxpayer money, blame the politicians. Football is popular. The number of readers on this blog certainly indicates that. Politicians are going to do what the voters want (sometimes) and what their contributors want (sually). If Mr. Blank gets his stadium, we’ll know what happened.

  20. Indemnitor

    I hope they get it laid out so Arthurs 1st wife and his secretary/2nd wife dont have line of sight with the current candidate for the opening as Ms AB III.

    Dont roll on shabbos & Stay kosher, bro.

  21. Always Someone Else's Fault

    I’d love to see the statistics for hotel/restaurant business on the 8 home weekends plus playoffs. No freaking way the delta between a new stadium and current capacity/demographics covers the cost of the new stadium. In fact, I’m betting you have to get pretty creative with the current venue’s business profile to find $300 million in profit margin for the city.

    Fact: I haven’t been to an NFL game in a decade, and I’m not going to one anytime soon. I don’t know anyone who has. We watch on TV.

    In that decade, I’ve been to 2 U2 concerts, 10 college football games, 20 college basketball games, and 4 foreign countries. I’m not a stay-at-home. I just find the NFL stadium experience a waste of time.

    Imagine Rome had built the Coliseum solely for the patricians off of the public dime. Tell me that’s not what publicly funded stadiums have become – a very large VIP section with enough cheap seats to make the damn thing politically palatable.

    Booo.

    • Mayor of Dawgtown

      +1. The only times I have been to the Dome in the last few years for anything I have always gotten in free and sometimes sat in skyboxes. Most of the time I don’t even watch the Falcons and most of my friends are the same way.