As reported in the media, DeKalb County has been in talks with Atlanta United FC regarding a location for their practice fields and headquarters building. Atlanta United FC is a professional soccer team owned by the Home Depot co-founder, Arthur Blank. This week, the administration presented the Board of Commissioners with details of a proposed agreement between Atlanta United and DeKalb County. The Board of Commissioners is being asked to vote on this agreement on Tuesday, August 4th.
I have many concerns about this matter. In no particular order, they include:
1) What return on investment can the taxpayers of DeKalb county reasonably expect from this agreement?
2) Has the county performed any economic analysis regarding expected economic activity generated by this land use?
3) How reasonable is the county’s expected land preparation cost of $3-$5 million? Based on the the requirements presented to the board, the preparations include, demolition, entrance construction, detention ponds, irrigation systems, and sod.
4) Why is the county proposing to use money from the General Fund to pay for this? Is not the correct fund for this, the Parks and Recreation fund?
Here are the details of the potential deal:
Land to be used is unused County-owned property adjacent to the jail, juvenile court, Bobbie Burgess building, and the former Recorders Court.
Phase I – 30 acres – Atlanta United (“Arthur Blank”) to build 15,000- 20,000 square foot corporate headquarters for Atlanta’s major league soccer team, 3 outdoor practice fields, and a 3,500 seat outdoor stadium, including the County’s parks department offices of approximately 6,000 square feet to be located in the outdoor stadium (the “Soccer Complex”).
Phase 2- 11 acres – If needed, the land will be used to build additional fields, and perhaps an
indoor training facility.
County enters into a long term ground lease of approximately 40 acres with the Development Authority of DeKalb County (“Decide DeKalb”). Decide DeKalb enters into a management and Operating Agreement with Arthur Blank for 20 years with two 5 year automatic renewals. At the end of the 30 year ground lease, the 40 acres, the buildings, fields, and stadium and any other improvements on the 40 acres revert to ownership of the County at no cost.
Total cost of land preparation/demolition of 40 acres, estimated at between 3 and 5 million dollars. 7 million dollars paid to Arthur Blank over 3 years beginning on date the County’s parks department occupies its new offices as annual Facility Use Payments for the County’s use of the fields, the stadium and its new parks department offices. Annual payment will be 2.33 million dollars for first 3 years and then $10.00 per year for the remainder of the ground lease. County acknowledges that no property taxes are to be paid by Arthur Blank for the life of the ground lease because it is a usufruct and agrees to waive all permitting fees for the Soccer Complex. County agrees to seek funding for pedestrian improvements from the Soccer Complex to the Kensington MARTA Station. County agrees to demolish the current animal shelter by 12-31-2016 and allow Arthur Blank the right to consult on other compatible uses, if County develops land. County agrees to fund its share of maintenance and Capital Repairs for its parks department offices during the term of the ground lease. County agrees to seek designation of the area which includes the Soccer Complex as a State Opportunity Zone. County agrees to allow Arthur Blank and the public limited use of the Juvenile Justice Center parking lot on a first come first served basis. County agrees to seek Board of Education participation in the Kensington TAD.
Atlanta United FC contribution
Construction of corporate headquarters, 3,500 seat stadium, parks department offices, and 3 soccer fields, at its sole cost, with some design input from the County and Decide DeKalb. Arthur Blank agrees not to relocate during the term of the ground lease, so long as County and Decide DeKalb are not in default. Arthur Blank to fund its share of Capital Repairs and Improvements to the Soccer Complex during the term of the ground lease. Arthur Blank agrees to pay the County 15% of net revenues received by Arthur Blank for naming rights and branded events held at the Soccer Complex. Arthur Blank agrees to allow the County to use the fields and the stadium at no charge other than the Facility Use Payments, on a mutually agreeable basis, when not in use by Atlanta’s major league soccer team. Arthur Blank agrees to use commercially reasonable efforts to hire DeKaib residents for at least 10% of construction, maintenance and operation jobs.
Bidding and overseeing the land preparation/demolition process.
Receiving 15% net revenues for naming rights and passing it through to the County.
Collaborative design review of construction of the Soccer Complex.
Establishing necessary capital repair accounts for County and Arthur Blank and ensuring funding of such accounts, as necessary and allowed by law.