Lawsuit claims Atlanta Falcons owe millions in taxes on new stadium

- The new Mercedes-Benz football stadium has dazzled fans and excited citizens of Atlanta.

But, a lawsuit obtained by our FOX 5 I-Team, claims the Falcons should be paying an estimated $26 million dollars per year in property taxes.

The Fayetteville attorney who filed the lawsuit says Atlanta Public School kids are missing out on 13 million dollars in taxes a year.

Attorney Wayne Kendall has filed a lawsuit against the Fulton County Board of Tax Assessors claiming they have failed to carry out their public duty. His argument: the tax assessors board has failed to collect some 26 million dollars in taxes from the Atlanta Falcons.

“I felt it was unfair to the average Falcons fan, which I am one,” says Kendall.

Kendall says the Falcons have the limited right use the Stadium, but the Georgia World Congress Center owns it. Since the World Congress Center is a state government entity, it doesn't have to pay taxes.

But, Kendall argues the agreement is actually a long-term lease with the Falcons controlling all the money from parking, restaurants, and merchandising. Kendall says if the court found it was a long-term lease the Falcons would have to pay property taxes.

Kendall believes the deal between the Atlanta Falcons Stadium Club and the Georgia World Congress Center was written to help the Falcons avoid paying those taxes.

“What I found is that it is pretty much, and fraud is a strong word, but it’s getting pretty close to that, a fraud on the taxpayers.”

Kendall says if the court rules in his favor, then the Falcons Stadium club would pay an estimated $26 million dollars in taxes to the city of Atlanta, Fulton County, and the Atlanta Public School system.  Kendall estimates about $13 million out of the $26 million total would have gone to Atlanta school children.

The lawsuit was filed late Tuesday and there has been no official answer from the Board of Tax Assessors.

Mayor Kasim Reed’s staff had no comment. We couldn’t reach the World Congress Center or the Falcons for comment.

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