SBD/April 5, 2013/Facilities

Falcons' Stadium Proposal Passes Final Vote; Development Challenges Remain

More than $200M in public construction bonds for the stadium can now be issued
The Falcons' plan for a $1B retractable-roof downtown stadium "cleared the final political hurdle Thursday, amid cheers from supporters but also acknowledgement that daunting work lies ahead," according to Greg Bluestein of the ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION. The 8-1 vote by the city’s economic development arm, Invest Atlanta, to "approve issuing bonds marks the end of three years of dealmaking over how much public money will go into construction." It also is the "beginning of an equally challenging phase to shape the building -- and try to reshape the neighborhood around it." Falcons execs now must "select architects and contractors." They must work with government officials to "buy the property for their preferred site and build out the infrastructure around it." They also must decide "how to mete out as much as" $45M in assistance to "nearby struggling neighborhoods, wary of creating another isolated sports behemoth in a sea of parking lots." The vote enables Invest Atlanta to issue more than $200M in "bonds backed by city hotel-motel taxes for the project." The Falcons are responsible for "all construction costs beyond" the $200M in public construction bonds. However, under the law "extending the city’s hotel-motel tax, potentially hundreds of millions more will go to financing costs, as well as to maintenance and upgrades of the facility through 2050." Meanwhile, the Falcons also agreed to pay up to $70M "in infrastructure costs and another $15 million to support the troubled surrounding neighborhood." Invest Atlanta would "chip in another $15 million from a pool of property taxes it collects from a special taxing district, and it must craft a 'community benefits' plan for the area." An additional $15M for the community "could come from private businesses" (ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION, 4/5).
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