The Editor’s View: The Big Payback

By Katrice L. Mines, editor

Atlanta is home to professional franchises for several major team sports including the Atlanta Braves, the Atlanta Hawks, the Atlanta Dream, the Atlanta Falcons, and will — in 2017 — welcome a Major League Soccer team. I feel pretty safe in calling this a sports town and declaring it without even delving into the realm of collegiate athletics.

This year, we dedicated our Why We Love Atlanta coverage to sports as the industry in Atlanta is in full bloom with new stadiums, teams, coaches and a few milestones worthy of a nod. There is something for everyone looking to experience sports in Atlanta and it appears that things are on the cusp of an upswing.

And the city could use it. According to writer Carl Bialik in a Wall Street Journal piece, Atlanta is still waiting for a second major pro-sport title since the Braves’ World Series win in 1995. Since, Atlanta teams have made the playoffs 30 times in the NFL, NBA, MLB and NHL, alone, but failed to capture any championships.

 

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So, what’s on tap? Well, for one: the city is working to secure dibs on hosting the FIFA World Cup in either 2018 or 2022 — a coup that would bring an estimated $400 million to $600 million to the area.

In the meantime, the Atlanta Sports Council reports that sporting events have generated more than $1.8 billion in the metro area in the last 10 years. The Atlanta Braves alone have an annual economic impact that yields an $8.6 million state and local tax bill annually. According to the Braves’ stadium Website, its new facility in Cobb County will be the hub of a “play, work, stay” destination with shops, restaurants and entertainment options, as well as a boutique hotel, office space and several hundred residences. The organization’s projected 20-year direct fiscal and tax revenues to the city of Atlanta is $60.8 million. One word: Cha-ching!

Combine that with five other professional teams and the strategy of producing such streams of income is the story. Even in dollars and cents, the approach — as we witnessed off the field with the heated negotiations for both the Falcons’ and Braves’ new stadiums — is crucial.

Business and revenues intact, a championship has to be on the horizon. AT

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