Friday, March 25, 2011

Sen. Brown Bill to Preserve Music/Sports Halls of Fame

Video Lottery Terminals Would Help

Sen. Robert Brown (D-Macon), will file a bill next week suggesting an alliance between the Georgia Lottery Corporation, the Georgia Music Hall of Fame Authority and the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame Authority. The bill will allow video lottery machines in both halls of fame and would increase Lottery revenues, increase revenues for the halls of fame and increase people presence in downtown Macon, where both halls of fame have operated since their inception.

“I see this as a win-win,” Sen. Brown said. “Much controversy has surrounded the Music Hall of Fame and the Sports Hall of Fame because they have not been self sufficient financially. After these tremendous structures were built, the attendance did not match projections. Now, the taxpayers are forced to pick up the slack. At the same time, several cities are arguing that they can run the halls better than Macon can. That is simply not true. This bill will correct the problem by bringing people to the halls and providing non-taxpayer funding. Downtown Macon businesses will benefit from the increased people traffic to what will be a unique and fresh entertainment district.”

In the legislation, Sen. Brown outlines a plan where both halls of fame authorities would partner with the Georgia Lottery. Video lottery terminals would be placed inside the halls of fame (blocked off so only adult access would be allowed). Some have suggested the Halls were over built; this plan would provide a way to economize space. The authorities, then, would become lottery retailers, gaining commissions on sales just like any other retailer. The proceeds would help cover operating costs.

“This bill is only the beginning of a plan,” Sen. Brown said. “The legislative session is almost over, so it is too late to see passage this year. However, we can begin discussions and refine the proposal. By next year’s session of the General Assembly, I hope legislators will move forward and execute a plan in a way that will benefit all Georgians.”

A recent decision by the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame Authority keeps it in Macon, despite plans from others Georgia cities to woo the museum. At the end of this month, the Georgia Music Hall of Fame Authority will vote on bids by Macon, Athens, Dunwoody and Woodstock to determine where that museum will call home. In the mean time, local money from Middle Georgia governments is going toward the halls to keep them financially stable. Brown says local taxpayer money should not be used to support a state facility. This bill would provide the needed non-taxpayer revenue stream to ensure the halls a long and prosperous life.

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