New Dome deal would keep Falcons in Atlanta for 30 years

by: Jim Strickland Updated:

Estimates show a new stadium would cost anywhere from $950 million to $1.2 billion, with about 30 percent of that money coming from public funds.

ATLANTA - A deal with the Georgia World Congress Center for a new stadium would contractually obligate the Atlanta Falcons to stay in Atlanta for 30 years.
           
That is one of the items currently on the table as negotiations continue on a $1 billion replacement for the Georgia Dome.
           
Channel 2's Jim Strickland had the only TV camera there as the Congress Center board met at Lake Lanier Islands to discuss the money involved.
           
"This is a complex deal.  It's not something that you ink out on the back of a napkin overnight," said GWCC Executive Director Frank Poe.
           
Included in a 24-page frame work of a new stadium deal is a non-relocation agreement.
           
If the deal gets done, it's expected to take between $300 - $325 million in public money, but the Falcons will remain in Atlanta in an iron-clad provision in the contract now proposed.
           
"For a one-third contribution roughly, the state is getting an asset that is worth a billion dollars.  That certainly secures the Falcons for the future," said Poe.
           
There is opposition to using any public funds, even hotel-motel money generated by tourists.  That total is currently pegged at $277 million. 

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"There's public resistance of putting money into these deals.  You know the economic downturn has put constraints on public budgets," consultant Dan Barrett to the GWCC board.
          
The new San Francisco 49ers stadium will be privately-funded, but officials said the team's marquee drawing power will allow it to sell 4,000 more club seats and 75 more suites than a new Atlanta stadium would offer. The high-end seats generate far more revenue.

Officials are hoping Falcons fans and regular citizens will respond the way Houston, Texas did.
           
"The hotel-motel tax in Houston has expanded the convention center, built a convention center hotel and built three professional sports stadiums," said financial expert Bill Corrado of Citigroup.
           
There is no timetable on when they'll strike a deal will go before various governmental authorities and the public for consideration.  The board did not announce where on the GWCC campus the stadium would go.  Sites north and south of the current dome are now being looked at.


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