Why are Georgia taxpayers paying $700m for a new NFL stadium?


The Atlanta Falcons’ new stadium, which hosts its fourth-ever NFL game on Sunday, is a technological marvel: the iris-shaped retractable roof; the mammoth video “halo board” that rings the ceiling aperture; the concession stands that sell hot dogs for a throwback $2 price. And, best of all, the $1.6bn edifice cost Georgia taxpayers a relatively inexpensive $200m.

When University of Michigan urban planning professor Judith Grant Long conducted an exhaustive study of the total public expense on sports venues built in recent years, she found hidden costs added 40% on average to the public’s official price tag. (One of the more memorable cases: the New York Yankees’ new stadium, initially sold as being entirely privately funded, ended up costing the city and state more than $800m to relocate parks, building parking garages, and provide other sundries.)