SBD/January 14, 2013/Facilities

Georgia Lawmakers: Falcons Need Better Plan To Win Support For New Stadium

Momentum from the Falcons' success could be lost if a vote is held until '14
Top Georgia state leaders said that the Falcons organization "needs a better game plan if it expects to win crucial legislative support this winter” for a new retractable-roof stadium, according to Bluestein & Stafford of the ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION. A statewide poll showed that 72% of respondents “either opposed or strongly opposed using hotel/motel tax collections in Atlanta and unincorporated Fulton County to help finance construction.” Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal said, “It’s hard to get lawmakers to vote for something that’s polling 70-to-30 no.” The Falcons and the Georgia World Congress Center Authority signed “a non-binding term sheet in December after months of quiet negotiations.” Falcons President & CEO Rich McKay said that the team “has been more forthcoming in the media since then.” He wrote in an e-mail, “We do plan to take a more direct and aggressive stance with Georgia residents and their legislators in the coming weeks.” McKay said that the current plan would keep the city of Atlanta "competitive for events like the World Cup and the Super Bowl.” Bluestein & Stafford wrote delaying a vote until next year could give the Falcons and the GWCCA "time to sell the public on the stadium’s benefits.” But they “might also lose the urgency that compels the often slow-moving Legislature to take action, as well as any momentum from the Falcons strong season.” GWCCA Exec Dir Frank Poe said that the deal “would die without the public funding portion.” Team Owner Arthur Blank “could build a less expensive open-air stadium on his own somewhere else in the metro area, leaving the state-run Georgia Dome with a flashy new suburban competitor" (ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION, 1/13). In Atlanta, Dave Williams writes the Georgia General Assembly "looms as a potential obstacle" to a new stadium (ATLANTA BUSINESS CHRONICLE, 1/14 issue).

OVER-ARCHING ISSUES: In St, Louis, David Hunn in a front-page piece noted the Rams and the St. Louis Convention & Visitors Commission have been at a “stalemate for months over renovations required by the team’s 30-year lease.” Three arbitrators today will “begin to hammer out answers.” They will “choose between three alternatives: the CVC’s renovation proposal, valued at least at $124 million; the Rams’ much pricier option; or a plan the arbitrators create themselves.” If CVC leaders “find the end result too expensive, they could let the Rams’ lease go year-to-year beginning in 2015.” If the Rams “find the renovations too minimal, they could buy their way out,” which “opens the doors for new ideas, new places -- and a new stadium.” A top Rams exec indicated that, while the team “wants to stay in the region, it isn’t set on the Dome.” Hunn noted Rams execs “won’t talk about their intentions,” but a few things “are clear.” Rams Owner Stan Kroenke “generally likes owning his teams’ stadiums.” Additionally, the renovations he is requesting for the Dome “approach the cost of a new stadium.” The renovations also “wouldn’t solve one of the team’s thorniest problems: the Rams don’t own any of the surrounding parking lots” (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 1/13).
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