Falcons owner: Team committed to staying downtown

by: Ashley Swann Updated:


ATLANTA - There are new developments in the push to build a new stadium for the Atlanta Falcons. The team's owner released a statement Saturday saying he is committed to staying in downtown Atlanta, despite speculation that it may head elsewhere.

The Falcons' lease on the Georgia Dome expires in 2016. Owner and Chairman Arthur Blank says that as a business, it is their responsibility to consider all of their options, but that they are not making any alternate plans at this time.

The statement comes just days after CEO Rich McKay told city leaders the Falcons will be playing in a new stadium in 2017.

"If we can't get that deal done in downtown Atlanta, then clearly we will look in the metropolitan area and see what opportunity may exist," McKay said.

But in the statement released Saturday, Blank said, "We are focusing all of our time and resources on finalizing an agreement for the new stadium in downtown Atlanta."

The statement doesn't necessarily have all fans convinced.

"He released that statement saying it's definitely going to happen," Raffeal Hunter told Channel 2's Ashley Swann. "But he's still showing a lot of wishy-washiness."

The mayor wants the city to use the hotel/motel tax to pay for 20 percent of the planned billion dollar stadium. The Falcons would pay the rest. Some, like, Hunter, think all options should be explored.

"Of course, cities need to raise money, but there also should be insight to get from the people as to what's going to be better for the people as a whole," Hunter said.

But other fans outside the Georgia Dome Saturday night said if downtown Atlanta is where the Falcons want to play, they're hopeful a deal will be reached.

"It's great for the city of Atlanta," Zeb Russell told Swann. "We need to keep a team here, so if that's what it takes, it's good."


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