SBD/January 10, 2012/Facilities

NFL Facility Notes: Arthur Blank Says Getting New Stadium Is A "Long Process"

Blank said new stadium would work well with Georgia Dome for certain events
Falcons Owner Arthur Blank, when asked recently about the status of the team's "stadium issue," said, "We continue to work closely with the Georgia World Congress Center. We’ve got a great relationship with them. This is a long process that we are going through. ... We want to position the franchise to be competitive for the next 35 to 40 years." Asked if the "open-air concept will harm Atlanta's ability to attract events to the Georgia Dome," Blank said, "I think that the new stadium would work well (in conjunction with the Georgia Dome) for certain events, most obviously basketball, which needs to be played inside. There are a number of other events that need to be played inside. I think having both stadiums will work well together" (AJC.com, 1/7).

ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT: In Buffalo, Donn Esmonde wrote to "truly protect taxpayer backs" during negotiations on an extension of the Bill's Ralph Wilson Stadium lease, Erie County "needs to bring in a sports economist who knows the lay of the NFL land." The Bills "likely want upwards of $100 million in taxpayer-funded stadium enhancements." The Bills' lease expires in '13, giving "the county a chance to tie stadium improvements to the terms of a new lease." That includes "everything from length of the deal to -- most importantly, given the fragile health of the 93-year-old owner -- provisions that make it as financially painful as possible for the next owner to abandon Buffalo." The relatively "modest investment in a consultant could save millions in lease terms." With the Bills "hanging in the balance and more than $100 million to ante up, the stakes are high." Esmonde: "Let’s not get played for suckers" (BUFFALO NEWS, 1/8).

ON THE DOCKET: In New Jersey, Deon Hampton notes the city of East Rutherford is claiming that the New Jersey Sports & Exposition Authority, the landlord of NFL Giants' practice facility Timex Performance Center, owes the municipality "$2.5 million plus interest." At issue is "whether the municipality can tax a place that has been exempt from local levies because the state owns the land and buildings." Neither the Giants nor the NJSEA "have paid taxes since the practice center opened in 2009." Municipal court judge Joseph Andresini "isn't expected to render an opinion on the matter until later this year" (Bergen RECORD, 1/10).
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