BRADENTON, Fla. — Four Atlanta residents filed a complaint challenging the validation of $278.3 million of revenue bonds to partially finance a new $1.2 billion stadium for the Atlanta Falcons.
Citing more than a dozen legal reasons why the bonds cannot be validated, the residents' attorneys in the Feb. 10 petition question whether the state and city of Atlanta properly enacted the hotel-motel tax that would secure the debt.
They also raise objections about the demolition of two churches to make way for the new stadium, failure to address environmental impacts, and the fact that the project was not reviewed by the Atlanta Regional Commission as a development of regional impact, according to Atlanta-based Saporta Report.
The legal challenge also includes objections about land being conveyed at no cost by the city of Atlanta to the Georgia World Congress Center, a state agency that is a party to the stadium project and owner of the Georgia Dome where the Falcons currently play.
The land will not result in a "substantial benefit" to the Atlanta residents, according to the complaint.
It contends that the funding agreement for hotel-motel tax proceeds is between the city and the GWCC, and therefore Invest Atlanta, also known as the Atlanta Development Authority, is not authorized to be party to the agreement.
Invest Atlanta, the city's redevelopment agency, is acting as the conduit to issue the stadium bonds.
The interveners are asking the court to strike down various laws, legal actions, and deny validation of the bonds. They are represented by two attorneys, former Fulton County judge Thelma Wyatt Moore and John Woodham, who challenged the application of the Atlanta BeltLine's tax allocation district to public schools.
After a six-year-legal battle the Georgia Supreme Court ruled that it was constitutional for schools to participate in tax districts.
If the 30-year bonds are authorized by the court they are expected to be sold by Invest Atlanta before the end of fiscal 2014, according to Atlanta Chief Financial Officer Jim Beard.
The stadium project is expected to cost "in excess of" $1.2 billion, and includes demolition of the Dome. In addition to bond financing, the stadium's remaining cost will be paid through the National Football League's G-4 loan program, team debt, equity, and personal seat licenses.
The new stadium will have eight sides and an octagonal retractable roof to give it an iconic presence in downtown Atlanta, which is what the Falcons requested. It is being built just south of the Dome to be nearer public transportation.