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Volume 24 No. 117


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" (, 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).

The city of Indianapolis yesterday agreed to a one-year extension of its contract with the Pacers to "operate Bankers Life Fieldhouse through the 2013-14 NBA season," but there are "whiffs in the air that changes could be brewing as the city seeks a long-term agreement," according to Jeff Swiatek of the INDIANAPOLIS STAR. The one-year extension to the contract that expires next June "gives the Pacers $10 million in taxpayer funds to help operate the fieldhouse." The new loan, "like the previous $30 million, will be forgiven if the Pacers stay in Indianapolis through 2019." But the team "has to pay some of the money back if it leaves the city before then." Office of Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard Communications Dir Marc Lotter said that the mayor "supports the one-year extension as a way to buy time to 'get a handle on budget issues.'" The city’s budgetary "uncertainties affect how much money it might have available to spend on any long-term agreement with the Pacers." Improved finances for the Pacers, who "reportedly have lost money or made minimal profits in recent years, could ease pressures on the city to subsidize fieldhouse operations" (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 12/11). Marion County Capital Improvement Board Member Milt Thompson yesterday said, "Sometimes we just get in too big of a hurry. An extension in the short term is the most prudent move we can make." The INDIANAPOLIS BUSINESS JOURNAL noted under the new agreement, the Pacers will get two $5M payments, "one this month and one in April" (, 12/10).

Golfer Phil Mickelson and his course design firm "have been selected by the City of San Diego’s golf operations department to perform what is being termed a 'renovation' of the North Course" at Torrey Pines, according to Tod Leonard of the SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE. The current "cost estimate for the project is close to $7 million." San Diego City Golf Manager Mark Marney said that he "expects the work would begin soon after the PGA Tour’s Farmers Insurance Open is completed in early 2015." Marney added that Mickelson is "waiving his personal fee for the work, though his design team will be paid." Leonard writes the North Course is "not very popular among PGA Tour players, who ranked it 48th of 52 venues in a poll by Golf World magazine earlier this year." Meanwhile, public reaction "to extensive work on the North Course is likely to be widely divergent" (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 12/11).