SBD/December 11, 2012/Facilities

GWCCA Approves Falcons Stadium Term Sheet, But Hurdles Remain With Public Funding

Falcons' annual rent for the proposed stadium would be $2.5M
While the Georgia World Congress Center Authority yesterday “approved a ‘term sheet’ with the basic elements of a deal” for a new retractable-roof Falcons stadium, a "remaining hurdle loomed larger: legislative approval to raise the $300 million public portion of financing for the project,” according to a front-page piece by Bluestein, Stafford & Tucker of the ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION. The GWCCA also affirmed the “roughly 30-70 public-private split of construction costs for the new stadium, which could open by 2017.” But GWCCA Exec Dir Frank Poe said that for the plan to work the legislature "has to boost the GWCCA’s borrowing cap to $300 million.” The cap "is $200 million now,” and several leading lawmakers yesterday “signaled mixed feelings about supporting the borrowing limit increase.” The GWCCA would “issue bonds for the construction money, and an already-approved extension of the city of Atlanta and unincorporated Fulton County’s hotel-motel tax would pay them off over time.” The Falcons would “be responsible for the rest of the money.” The terms approved yesterday also include the state owning the stadium, "with the Falcons operating it under a 30-year deal and paying annual rent of $2.5 million, with that rising 2 percent a year.” The Falcons would “operate the facility and retain all revenue.” A deal could be undone “if a firm estimate of hotel-motel tax collections cannot be agreed upon." Another “big issue to be resolved is a specific site.” The GWCCA and the Falcons have “focused on two: one just south of the Georgia Dome, the other a half-mile north on Northside Drive.” Either way, the Georgia Dome “would be demolished” (ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION, 12/11).

IF THE PRICE IS RIGHT...: Falcons Owner Arthur Blank said, "I think it's a win for all of us. It will make a difference on the west side of Atlanta for a long period of time; not just during construction and operating the facility, but over the next 10 to 15 years really changing people's lives" (WSBTV.com, 12/10). Blank yesterday acknowledged that the team “plans to sell personal seat licenses in the retractable-roof stadium.” In Atlanta, Tim Tucker notes that revenue would “go toward the cost of building the new stadium.” Blank said, “We’re going to try to keep that to the lowest possible number we can that’s feasible. It will not be in the range of some of the newer stadiums that you have heard and read about.” Blank and Falcons President & CEO Rich McKay said that the team has “not determined how much it would charge for seat licenses or how many of the new stadium’s seats would require them.” Blank: “Atlanta doesn’t have a history of PSLs. ... We’ll try to price them and position them in a way that will continue to support having the right kind of mix of fans in our building” (ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION, 12/11).
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