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How Atlanta is using taxes to fund the Super Bowl

On Behalf of | Jan 29, 2019 | Tax Law, Tax Law |

Anticipation mounts as Atlanta gears up to host Super Bowl LIII on Sunday. The city is spending upwards of $46 million dollars on the event—in addition to $200 million spent to build the Mercedes-Benz Stadium, where the game will take place. Much of this funding comes from taxpayer dollars.

In today’s post, we examine some of the core taxes that will cover Super Bowl costs—as well as the city’s missed opportunities for income generation.

The losses

In Atlanta’s bid to host the Super Bowl, it agreed to provide many services to the NFL free of charge. Therefore, it will forfeit any potential revenue from the following:

  • Eight nights’ worth of hotel rooms for members of each team
  • Use of the Mercedes-Benz Stadium
  • 10 security officers to guard each hotel in which NFL members are staying
  • Police escorts to accompany players to and from the stadium on game day
  • 10,000 parking spaces on game day
  • Advertising and social media services

In addition, Atlanta will not receive any revenue from Super Bowl ticket sales—as their agreement states that this all goes to the NFL.

State taxes

Georgia will pay for many Super Bowl-related expenses through the following taxes:

  • Hotel-motel tax: Georgia may charge a 3 percent tax on all stays at hotels or motels in the state. This tax is estimated to bring in $16 million for funding of the event.
  • Sales tax: Georgia’s legislature recently passed a bill, which eliminates sales tax on Super Bowl tickets. However, sales tax will still apply to the purchase of all Super Bowl memorabilia—including jerseys, concessions and other souvenirs.
  • Property tax: Part of the reason Atlanta won the bid to host this year’s Super Bowl was because of its new Mercedes-Benz Stadium—which cost the city hundreds of millions of dollars. A return on this investment is heavily contingent on one significant assumption proving true: that the new stadium will draw more residents into the area, leading to increased revenue from property taxes.

Time will tell whether the above expenditures prove worthwhile, and whether Atlanta—and its tax payers—will receive a return on their significant investment.

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