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ATLANTA (CBS ATLANTA) -
The Atlanta Falcons are marching ahead with plans for their new billion-dollar stadium, but a political watchdog group is trying to put a stop to public funding of the project.
The Atlanta City Council approved a plan to build the new retractable-roof stadium, but Common Cause Executive Director William Perry complains voters were never allowed any input in the decision.
Common Cause filed a petition Thursday to force the city to put a referendum on the November ballot that would give the public more say in funding.
More than $200 million will come from the city's hotel-motel tax. The group wants voters to decide whether the funds should be used for the new stadium.
The group would need to gather 40,000 signatures within 60 days for the referendum to go on the ballot.
If the signatures are collected, the petition would allow voters to cast a ballot in this year's municipal elections.
Mayor Kasim Reed issued the following statement:
"William Perry is sacrificing the reputation of a once venerable and well-respected organization for the sake of furthering his own personal ambition. His attempt to derail the stadium development is a losing proposition. The state-of-the-art facility is going to help strengthen the city's $10 billion tourism and convention industry and the 220,000 jobs it supports, spur economic development in the surrounding neighborhoods, and keep the Atlanta Falcons in the heart of downtown for the next 30 years.
"We have already had tangible wins because of the approved stadium development deal. The construction of the new stadium will create much needed-construction jobs and include opportunities for women and small business-owners. As a result of the stadium deal, Atlanta recently was named a host city for the College Football Playoff series, expected to immediately become a mega-event in the nation. The city's Chick-Fil-A bowl will become a national semifinal once every three years, with the first Atlanta game scheduled for Dec. 31, 2016 in the Georgia Dome. The next three are planned for the new retractable-roof Falcons stadium in the 2019, 2022 and 2025 seasons. In addition, the city of Atlanta is now able to robustly compete to host a Super Bowl, perhaps as soon as 2019.
"These types of events help create and sustain jobs in our city, have a significant economic impact and help us maintain Atlanta's position as the dominant city in the Southeastern United States. Common Cause Georgia should focus on moving our city forward, not taking us backwards."