ATLANTA -- "The Falcons? The dirty bird? I'm ready." Valencia Seay is dancing in the state Capitol during an interview. It's reminiscent of a dance popularized by the Atlanta Falcons visit to the Super Bowl in 1999. "Go Falcons. We're gonna take this thing," Seay says as she concludes her dance.
Sen. Valencia Seay (D-Riverdale) happens to like the Atlanta Falcons. She also likes what she hears about a new stadium to replace the Georgia Dome, partially funded by hotel-motel tax dollars. And she says she liked the free tickets she got for the November 18 game between the Falcons and the Arizona Cardinals, courtesy of a lobbyist from the Georgia World Congress Center.
"I sat there and I enjoyed the suite. And I enjoyed the game and we got a win," said Seay, who says she gets free tickets to Falcons games every year from the GWCC.
Seay is one of 29 lawmakers who got free tickets to events at the Georgia Dome since late summer-- all accepted as the Falcons and the World Congress Center try to win votes to get state funding for a portion of a new billion dollar stadium.
"I went last Sunday and watched 'em win. It scared me to death," said Rep. Mike Cheokus (R-Americus). "They won in the last two seconds, it seems."
Rep. Cheokus went to Sunday's playoff game against Seattle with his son, a freebie from the World Congress Center. He says he's undecided on a new stadium. He objected to a question about the propriety of accepting the free ticket.
"I don't see it as inappropriate. And the reason I don't see it as inappropriate is because it's not going to sway my position one way or the other," Cheokus said.
We've reached 14 of the 29 lawmakers who attended Dome events with free tickets since late August. Of those 14, only two say they are opposed to using hotel motel tax money to help pay for a new stadium. They are
- Rep. Buzz Brockway (R-Lawrenceville)
- Sen. Ross Tolleson (R-Perry)
Four say they are inclined to support it. They are
- Sen. Valencia Seay (D-Riverdale)
- Sen. Fran Millar (R-Dunwoody)
- Rep. Allen Peake (R-Macon)
- Sen. Gloria Butler (D-Stone Mountain)
The remaining eight say they're undecided-- awaiting more information, they say, about the project to replace the Georgia Dome. They are
- Rep. Jason Shaw (R-Lakeland)
- Rep. Mike Cheokus (R-Americus)
- Rep. Billy Mitchell (D-Stone Mountain)
- Rep. Rahn Mayo (D-Decatur)
- Rep. Pat Gardner (D-Atlanta)
- Rep. Virgil Fludd (D-Tyrone)
- Rep. Margaret Kaiser (D-Atlanta)
- Rep. Coach Williams (D-Avondale Estates)