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Conservatives vow to fight sales tax break for Super Bowl bid

A prominent Republican vowed to stop a lucrative tax break aimed at persuading the National Football League to bring the Super Bowl to Atlanta, signaling a fight ahead between anti-tax advocates and establishment Republicans over the measure.

State Sen. Josh McKoon, a Columbus Republican, said taxpayers have already done their part "in the seemingly unending quest to bring a one-time professional sporting event" to Georgia.

"After raising over $900 million in taxes last year it is unthinkable that Republicans would give away tens of millions of dollars to moneyed special interests," said McKoon, invoking last year's vote for a package of taxes and fees for transportation improvements. "I for one will not stand for it."

The Atlanta Sports Council is backing legislation that would waive the state and local sales tax on tickets for the Super Bowl, worth an estimated $10 million to $12 million. The same deal could potentially extend to other pricey sporting events. It's backed by Gov. Nathan Deal's administration, the Metro Atlanta Chamber and Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed.

Dan Corso, the council's executive director, pitched it as the cost of doing business for landing a mega-event that could generate $30 million in sales tax for the state.

“Super Bowl host cities typically offer this type of incentive, which makes it a necessary part of any bid package to be competitive,” said Corso, who said the game could generate $30 million in sales tax revenue. “We believe this tool can help Atlanta win the bid for the 2019 or 2020 Super Bowl, benefiting all of Georgia.”

There may be more to this than a fight over who gets a tax break and who doesn’t. Opponents of McKoon's "religious liberty" have argued that his measure could jeopardize a chance for a new Falcons stadium to host football’s biggest annual event.

Read more about the plan here.

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About the Author

Greg Bluestein is a political reporter who covers the governor's office and state politics for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.