Our scorecard of stadium fact-checks
By Eric Stirgus
Published on Thursday, December 26th, 2013 at 6:00 a.m.
The Atlanta Braves and Falcons were big news off the playing field in 2013.
Both teams were victorious in their quests to win local approval to build new, high-priced sports facilities, but there was vigorous public debate and countless claims to sway metro Atlantans for or against the plans.
PolitiFact Georgia tried to play referee throughout the year to determine the accuracy of some of these claims. Most of the statements had some truth in them, but there was typically some missing context. Below are summaries of some of our fact checks and findings.
Atlanta Chief Operating Officer Duriya Farooqui in a Feb. 13 presentation: "Of the 18 stadiums built from 2004 to 2013, 47 percent of the total costs came from public sources."
A key Atlanta official said at the height of discussion about the Falcons’ desire to build a new stadium that the city’s proposed 20 percent investment was relatively low in comparison with other cities that have helped fund new stadiums.
"Of the 18 stadiums built from 2004 to 2013, 47 percent of the total costs came from public sources," Farooqui said.
PolitiFact Georgia’s research showed the estimate is on target. Public investment, however, is much less than 47 percent for sports facilities in the price range of what the Falcons have proposed ($1.2 billion). We believe this context is necessary to fully understand Farooqui’s statement.
We rated Farooqui’s claim as Mostly True.
Revitalize Cobb in a Nov. 22 flier: The economic impact of a new Atlanta Braves stadium includes 9,241 new jobs and $295 million in wages.
PolitiFact Georgia saw something interesting in Revitalize Cobb’s flier concerning what it believes are the economic benefits of the Atlanta Braves moving 12 miles north.
This time, we wanted to examine Revitalize Cobb’s jobs and wage figures.
The group’s source is an economic impact study commissioned by the Cobb Chamber of Commerce, which has championed the stadium. It estimates the effects of two phases of the project -- construction and the stadium’s operations over 10 years.
The study’s findings are not unreasonable. The job numbers, though, were presented in a confusing way. While the interest group tried to provide context through the mailer, it didn’t do enough. It also added projected "nonprofit" positions to its jobs figures, which gives an inflated impression of the number of jobs the stadium is estimated to provide.
Revitalized Cobb earned a Mostly False.
Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed in an Aug. 7 radio interview: "State law says that once the state appraises a piece of property, they can only pay it a certain amount above appraisal."
Reed said there were financial limits to what it could offer two churches for their property in order to build a new football stadium in downtown Atlanta.
"State law says that once the state appraises a piece of property, they can only pay a certain amount above appraisal," Reed said in a radio interview.
PolitiFact Georgia initially rated the mayor’s claim False, but Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens presented us with evidence afterward that Reed is correct.
The state’s Gratuities Clause, Olens said, limits agencies to "paying fair market value for property, absent some additional source of value that the state receives from the transaction."
Given the new information, we revised our ruling and rated the mayor’s statement True.
Atlanta Braves Executive Vice President Mike Plant: "No one in the country has ever built a brand-new sports facility and created this kind of development at the same time."
When the Atlanta Braves unveiled renderings of the proposed $1 billion stadium and entertainment complex in Cobb County, one team official boasted that no one has embarked on such an ambitious plan.
"No one in the country has ever built a brand-new sports facility and created this kind of development at the same time," Plant said.
Technically, he’s correct that no one has currently constructed a project with the type of retail and residential spaces, restaurants, and other proposed elements simultaneously. Other sports facilities, though, have been planned along with development projects.
The Staples Center in Los Angeles was approved with the goal of adding additional development alongside the arena. Different portions of a residential and office project in Brooklyn, N.Y., were being constructed at about the same time as a new sports arena was built.
Our rating: Mostly True.
See attached article.
Researchers: Eric Stirgus
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