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Lawmaker urges no breaks for stadium
Encourages 'free market principles' for new Falcons' home
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Forsyth County News

Whether residents are for or against a new stadium for the Atlanta Falcons, one Forsyth County lawmaker hopes it won’t cost taxpayers a dime.

District 24 State Rep. Mike Dudgeon has introduced House Resolution 1871, which urges the negotiating parties not to take action that would involve the state’s $15 million bond designated for the property expansion of the Georgia World Congress Center.

The legislature supported the center’s expansion, said Dudgeon, a Republican from south Forsyth.

"The World Congress Center is great. It provides tons of economic development for Georgia and it’s a good thing for us," he said.

"We support the expansion, but we did not want the money put in by the state for that bond to be turned around and given to the Falcons for an open-air stadium."

Falcons officials are reportedly seeking to move from the Georgia Dome, where the team has played since 1992, to a new open-air stadium in downtown Atlanta.

Dudgeon said a deal is in the works for the World Congress Center to allocate land for a new stadium.

There’s a possibility that land could be donated or discounted during the negotiation process.

His resolution, which is supported by 20 other state representatives, strongly urges the center to "use free market principles when allocating land for a new Atlanta Falcons stadium."

The resolution asks World Congress Center officials to avoid selling or leasing the land below fair market value for a possible new stadium.

"We’re not trying to micromanage how the deal gets done," Dudgeon said. "We support the Falcons and the World Congress Center … but we really strongly feel that it’s not the right use of taxpayer dollars."

Other sponsors of the resolution include fellow Republican Reps. Charlice Byrd of Woodstock and Jason Spencer of Woodbine. 

In a statement, Byrd questioned the timing of a Falcons stadium.

"We must ask ourselves if this is really the right time for the state to bond money to build a modern coliseum," Byrd said.

Added Spencer: "We are making our position known as legislators who believe that subsidizing construction of a new Atlanta Falcons stadium is not only untimely, but would also be an affront to the spending priorities of the state."