by Michael Lowrey
Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed says a renovation of Philips Arena, key to keeping the Atlanta Hawks in downtown, could be a $200 million to $300 million project, and the public’s tab could be as high as $150 million.
Reed’s comments in an interview Monday with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution were the first indication of how much public funding might be involved in the rehab plan, which came to light last fall.
An agreement involving public funds would be the fourth since 2013 between a metro Atlanta government and a major league franchise involving public subsidies for a sports facility.
The Falcons and Atlanta struck a deal for $200 million in bond financing for the $1.4 billion Mercedes-Benz Stadium. That deal also will involve hundreds of millions more in public money for financing costs, operations and upkeep over 30 years. Cobb County lured the Braves away from Turner Field with an offer of $368 million in public funds for the future SunTrust Park. The Atlanta United FC franchise will receive public support for a headquarters and soccer training facility in Marietta.
Professional sports, the form of entertainment that keeps taking from taxpayers. And yes, the Philips Arena situation, in which a new team owner comes in and demands arena upgrades paid for in part or whole by public money if the team is to stay, could easily be repeated with the Hurricanes here in Raleigh.