My knee-jerk reaction to articles about building a new Falcons stadium Downtown are that, heck yeah, the Atlanta Falcons should be in Atlanta, for crying out loud. How would the Doraville Falcons sound? Maybe we can call it the Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta MSA Falcons?
Then I remember that there is a reason I'm a finance major. Making decisions like whether to spend gobs of public money on a new stadium should be made on stronger rationale than civic pride. Rather, there are tools we can use to make rational decision. One is calculating the net present value of the investment. I found a frustratingly opaque report on the new Yankees Stadium, suggesting the stadium has a positive NPV. One must assume the cost of bond financing is the discount rate?
There is also a ton of work out there suggesting that stadiums aren't really worth the investment, but in my brief research yesterday I couldn't find anything with actual analysis. Sure, these stadiums cost a lot, but if they generate comparably large returns to the city, they can be worth it.
Downtown San Diego has had a pretty positive effect from subsidizing Petco Park - it has spurred a lot of new private development near where the ULI site was recently. Pittsburgh has an interesting relationship with the Steelers and the Pirates to leverage investment in new stadiums into new private development. Cincinnati has a similar situation where new stadiums have been part of large urban revitalization projects. Atlanta developers Carter and Dawson Co. are involved in that latest deal, btw.
Obviously the value of subsidizing a project depends on everything involved. The Georgia Dome area doesn't do very much in terms of helping out the rest of the city - it doesn't attract any other establishments near by, it doesn't draw residents, it never really drove any new private investment. It is important for the hospitality industry, and losing the Falcons would hurt Downtown in many ways. You would also have to assume that the
Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl and other events would follow the Falcons.
There are still a ton of unanswered questions - where would a new stadium be built? Can it be leveraged into new private development and the ever sought after urban revitalization, or would it simply be surrounded by parking lots? How might it fit into the City's Stadium Area TAD and the city's efforts over there? Could a new Stadium near the Ted drive the investment in a MARTA spur line or a streetcar line to the stadium area?
This is something I'll try and dig into more, but anyone who has done work on these sorts of issues is welcome to point me in the direction of resources.