SBD/August 24, 2012/Facilities

Georgia World Congress Center Says Falcons Stadium Deal Could Happen By End Of Year

The Georgia World Congress Center said that a deal to build a $948M retractable-roof football stadium for the Falcons “in downtown Atlanta could be reached by year's end,” according to Stafford & Tucker of the ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION. It is “the strongest indication so far that negotiations” with the team “are closing in on an agreement to make a playing field become reality.” But some “obstacles remain that could prevent the Falcons from achieving their stated goal of opening the stadium by the 2017 season.” They include “a decision on its location, as well as changes going on in the political arena that could affect the funding the state previously said it would contribute toward construction.” The Falcons are “committed to play in the Georgia Dome until the bonds on the building are paid off.” The Georgia World Congress Center Authority said that the date is “scheduled to be 2020 but is on pace to occur as early as 2018.” If a new stadium “opens sooner, the Georgia Dome bonds would be paid off as part of any deal.” But a roadblock “could be waiting with the upcoming legislative session, which could see legislation threatening the GWCCA's plan to commit about $300 million to the stadium.” The GWCCA said that the Falcons "would be responsible for the remainder of the cost.” Georgia state Rep. Mike Dudgeon said that he is “considering legislation that could halt state support for the project, including blocking efforts to raise the GWCCA's borrowing ceiling, which is now at $200 million.” Stafford & Tucker note that would “prevent the GWCCA from raising the money through the bond market and paying it back with hotel-motel tax revenue.” A July poll “helps support Dudgeon's statement, showing that 67 percent of metro residents oppose using the hotel tax for a new stadium” (AJC.com, 8/24).
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