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FALCONS OWNER RANKIN SMITH SR. DIES AT AGE 72
Published October 27, 1997
Falcons Owner & Chair Rankin Smith Sr. died in Atlanta yesterday at the age of 72. In Atlanta, Len Pasquarelli writes that Smith "was remembered by colleagues Sunday as a visionary who pioneered the rise of professional sports franchises in the South," and remained one of the few "'family' stewards in a sport in which corporate ownership has increased." Smith, who purchased the Falcons in '65 for $8.5M, was regarded around the NFL as a "mainstream" owner who "rarely bucked the agendas of commissioners ... and generally placed the good of the league above that of the Falcons" (ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 10/27). Soto & Payne write that Smith "was the driving force behind the construction of the Georgia Dome," and was "credited" with bringing two Super Bowls games to Atlanta (ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 10/27). TEAM'S FUTURE: Pasquarelli also reports that "there were no signs" on Sunday that Smith's death "would result in the sale" of the team. Smith said recently that he had purchased several high-premium insurance policies "to assist his heirs in dealing with the sort of estate tax problems that have plagued other franchises" (ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 10/27).