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HAWKS NOT LIKELY TO FLY FROM OMNI NEST
Published September 6, 1996
The new $215M Hawks arena will be built on the site of the Omni Coliseum "unless something dramatic changes drastically," Atlanta Mayor Bill Campbell's Chief of Staff, Steven Labovitz, told Unger & Saporta of the ATLANTA CONSTITUTION. A competing location -- the railroad gulch owned by Norfolk Southern across from the Omni -- is preferred by some civic leaders because of a "better" bridge between CNN Center and Underground Atlanta and the fact that events could continue at the Omni while the new arena was being built. Although the city and Turner Broadcasting System, which owns the Hawks, continue to negotiate with Norfolk Southern, they remain "several million dollars apart on a purchase price." If the Omni is chosen, the Hawks will have to play at the Georgia Dome and Georgia Tech for two seasons, while the current building is razed and replaced by the fall of '99. Recreation Authority Attorney Caryl Smith warned if legislation offered by U.S. Sen. Patrick Moynihan (D-NY) regarding the tax exempt status of bonds used on stadium and arena is passed, it would remove the tax exemption for $55-60M in bonds to be used for public improvements around the new Omni. Turner Exec Brad Ferrer: "I'm not sure about the project if the public improvement bonds are taxable." Campbell's Chief-of-Staff Labovitz said that the arena itself would be financed by a second bond issue, which is taxable, amounting to $140-150M (ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 9/6).