Atlanta is about to step up its bid for a Super Bowl. Georgia lawmakers are set to consider a measure this year that would waive the state sales tax on tickets for the Super Bowl – worth an estimated $10 million to $12 million – and possibly other pricey sporting events.
No measure has been introduced yet, but the effort has the backing of Gov. Nathan Deal’s office and Atlanta sports officials, according to four people with knowledge of the legislation.
Dan Corso, director of the Atlanta Sports Council, pitted it as a crucial incentive to land the Super Bowl, which he said would have an economic impact of more than $400 million and generate $30 million in sales tax revenue. He said Super Bowl host cities typically offer this type of incentive, making it a “necessary part of any bid package to be competitive.”
“We believe this tool can help Atlanta win the bid for the 2019 or 2020 Super Bowl, benefiting all of Georgia,” said Corso.
NFL owners in May will choose among Atlanta, Miami, New Orleans and Tampa for the 2019 and 2020 Super Bowl sites, and Atlanta is gunning for the 2019 event to showcase the new $1.4 billion Mercedes-Benz stadium that’s taking shape downtown.
The proposal could extend beyond the Super Bowl to other high-profile events, according to one person with direct knowledge of the negotiations, such as the college football national championship landing in Atlanta in 2018 and the NCAA men’s basketball Final Four coming in 2020.
One version making the rounds would allow two Deal administration officials – the economic development commissioner and head of the state revenue department – to decide which events the tax break would apply.
Atlanta’s bid for the College Football Playoff already included a similar promise: A vow to commit up to $3 million to reimburse the playoff organization for sales taxes on tickets, regardless of whether the state passes the tax break.
Organizers of the 2015 Super Bowl in Arizona took the same path. Officials there agreed to take the sales tax collected on ticket revenue from the game it hosted last year – more than $4 million – and send it back to the NFL.
The proposed tax break wouldn’t be the first aimed at helping the new stadium.
The Falcons and the Atlanta Braves – the baseball franchise that is building splashy new digs in Cobb – both were told they would not have to pay sales taxes on construction materials for their facilities. That’s millions of dollars in savings in addition to hefty public subsidies they already received.
And lawmakers last year approved a $23 million proposal to extend a parking deck near the stadium, adding to the more than $30 million for parking and land for the site that the state is earmarked to spend.