Author Archives: nhoffmanandco

Pride in Our New Sports Homes

Merc

May 21, 2018

The two new major league stadiums in Atlanta have now been in use for more than a year. These stadiums have benefited from significant tax payer funding, an investment justified by the projected benefits. So what has been the impact of the Mercedes-Benz Stadium and SunTrust Park?

Both stadiums were planned to be state of the art sports complexes, and they had similar budgets.  Construction proved to be a long and tedious road for both. Mercedes-Benz emerged with the dubious “honor” of facing the greater difficulties, with construction delays leading to soccer games scheduled for mid-2017 being played elsewhere in Atlanta.

SunTrust Park sought to create a stadium anchored mixed use complex, complete with hotels, office buildings, apartment complexes, and street level retail.  The main goal was to develop an underused section of the Cumberland/Galleria area of Atlanta.  The project was funded by a joint public/private partnership between Liberty Media, the owners of the Braves, and the Cobb-Marietta Coliseum & Exhibit Hall Authority.  The public side of this partnership, funded by Cobb County, contributed $421 million of the estimated $1.1 billion needed to complete the project.  The stadium itself cost $672 million, a relative bargain in stadium terms. The rest of the costs was for “The Battery”, a vibrant and walkable district of stores and bars.  The added tax revenue from these businesses, and year-round foot traffic, may well pay off for the district in the long run.

Further south in the City of Atlanta, the Mercedes-Benz stadium began taking shape in early 2014.  While this was a stadium-only project, its proponents did not skimp on city-changing optimism.  The total cost of the project was estimated to be $1.6 billion, with a modest $200 million contribution by the City of Atlanta in the form of stadium bonds.  The remaining expenses were covered by a private partnership of investment banks, and Arthur Blank personally.  The Mercedes-Benz Stadium is focused simply on the enjoyment of fans on game day.

As part of the philosophy behind the project, Arthur Blank recommitted to helping the English Avenue district, which lies west of the stadium.  Included in this initiative are a new job training center, affordable housing for police officers, and new youth leadership programs.  Another goal is to bring outside partners and team sponsors to support the development of the area.  The stadium has brought renewed attention to the development of an area known as “the Gulch,” an underutilized section of downtown adjacent to the stadium.  Should development occur here, Blank’s vision of the neighborhood may take one step closer to fruition.

Atlanta now has two contrasting approaches to the stadium/neighborhood relationship issue, and has not skimped on the cost of either.  While it is still too early to tell if either will be successful, the early signs are very positive – just ask any Atlanta based Millennial.

Carey Blakley

521

Going Postal

going postal

May 14, 2018

I seldom go inside a post office. I like to drop off letters in the big blue box from the comfort of my car. Recently this changed. As I was about to run some errands, I asked my wife if she needed me to get anything. She mentioned a roll of stamps might be nice. I hate to admit it, but I had to ask her the cost of a stamp, as it turns out that “forever” is not a price. Ready with a $50.00 bill, I walked into my local post office confident I could afford to purchase the requested stamps. I expected a mad house of people waiting in line to send packages. To my surprise and delight, there was not a single customer there. What a lucky day for me (maybe I should have bought a lottery ticket as well). I walked towards the counter and overheard a most unusual conversation between two female postal workers.

Julie :”Hey, Liz did we get a raise?”

Liz: “What do you mean, Julie?”

Julie: “We got paid today and my pay check is up a little over $100.00!”

Liz: “Are you kidding me? I’m going to go check with our supervisor.”

As I began my assigned stamp transaction, Liz returned from the back.

Liz: “Julie, the boss said no raise but the tax rates were adjusted.”

Julie: “What do you mean?”

I could not hold it in any more and mumbled something about Trump being the one to thank for that.

Liz: “What do you mean thank Trump?”

I responded carefully, aware of the ever present risk of someone actually going postal in a post office. I explained that Congress had recently passed a new tax bill under Trump’s leadership. The bill lowered tax rates for a lot of people, and that was likely why their pay checks had gone up.

The response was a simple shrug of the shoulders, so I got my stamps and started to walk out. As I was leaving, I overheard my two postal workers discussing what they were going to do with the extra cash. It seemed that WalMart might be getting some new traffic over the next several days.

I share this with you because small events, when manifested millions of times, can lead to meaningful outcomes. We are getting more and more reports that trends for spending and job creation in the US economy are really positive. Economic data is the collective actions of millions of folks. If you want a job you can get one. If you want to buy a house, get in line. The unemployment claims for laid off workers is the lowest it has been in over 14 years. If postal workers are beginning to feel the effects of more money in their paycheck, it should not be any surprise that the frequency of shopping trips to the mall or the internet is going to go to stay high.

Carl Gambrell

514