Not all roads lead to the new Dome

The Southerner

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The 20th anniversary of the opening of the Georgia Dome was Sept. 6. In the two decades since it was built, the Georgia Dome has hosted the Falcons, the Georgia State Panthers, the Atlanta Hawks, as well as the SEC Basketball Championship, the Chick-fil-A Bowl, the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship, the Olympics and two Super Bowls. And what’s to say that the Georgia Dome couldn’t be around for another 20 years? It isn’t falling apart and chances are it won’t start falling apart soon.

Even though the Dome has been a perfectly fine venue for a wide variety of sporting events, the Georgia World Congress Center Authority and the Atlanta Falcons have plans to tear down the Georgia Dome and build a new retractable dome. According to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the new dome could cost as much as $1.2 billion, $331 million of which will come from the City of Atlanta and $24 million from the state.

Can the City of Atlanta and the state of Georgia really afford to spend  a combined $355 million to pay for the new dome? The answer is clearly no.

This year, the Cobb County Schools have a budget shortfall of $95 million. The DeKalb County School District has an $88 million shortfall and Fulton County schools have a $120 million budget deficit. School systems across the state are facing severe budget crises. The fact that any governmental entity in Georgia would place the priority of building a new dome over education is tragic and shocking.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that since 2008, Georgia has added 37,438 students to its public school rolls while cutting 4,280 teachers. As the number of students increases and teachers are cut, class sizes balloon. Budget shortfalls have led to school closings. The DeKalb County School District is considering closing more schools this year, in addition to the four schools the system had already planned to shutter, and the fate of 12 more schools hangs in the balance. 11 Alive reported that Georgia’s public colleges and universities might have to cut as much as $365 million from their budgets.

The fact that our government would spend millions on a new dome rather than education shows where their priorities lie.

In support of the new dome, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed told 11 Alive that “the notion that we can’t do this because [of] the economy just falls short.” In reality, the notion that we can’t make our schools better and properly fund them because of the bad economy just falls short. The retractable dome might be profitable for the Atlanta Falcons or Falcons owner Arthur Blank, but it won’t be profitable enough for Atlanta. What would be profitable is for politicians in Georgia to invest in things that really matter- — like our education.




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