Falcons Reach Agreement With Atlanta For Stadium, But Deal Not Finalized
The Falcons committed “another $65 million toward a proposed downtown stadium as the team and the city unveiled agreement on several key issues Thursday, moving the project closer to a final deal,” according to a front-page piece by Stafford, Suggs & Tucker of the ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION. The “bulk of the money, $50 million, would go toward road, sidewalk, utility and other infrastructure work required for the new stadium.” Those aspects are “key city terms” in the deal announced by Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed and Falcons Owner Arthur Blank. The Arthur Blank Family Foundation “would invest $15 million in projects aimed at boosting” neighborhoods close to the stadium. The agreement states that the amount would be “augmented by another $15 million from Invest Atlanta, the city’s economic development agency.” The deal “offers financial relief to the city from infrastructure costs and is also aimed at answering calls for improvements to surrounding communities.” The public contribution for stadium construction “will be capped at $200 million, generated through bonds backed by the hotel-motel tax collection by the city of Atlanta.” Everything except the $200M in public money “would be paid by the Falcons, the NFL and personal seat license sales.” Stafford, Suggs & Tucker report while Reed “ardently backs a new stadium to keep the Falcons downtown, Thursday’s announcement does not mean a final deal is in place.” A memorandum of understanding between the Georgia World Congress Center Authority, on whose property the new stadium would be built, and the Falcons “on operational, financial and other details of a stadium deal” is still needed. But the Falcons, more than “two years into stadium negotiations, considered the latest development a breakthrough” (ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION, 3/8). NBC Sports Network's Mike Florio said, "It doesn’t mean it’s a done deal, but it’s a key step in the process towards shaking a little public money out of the trees in order to help pay for that stadium” (“PFT,” NBCSN, 3/7).
BREAK THIS DOWN: In Atlanta, Jeff Schultz wrote, “Once you fan away the smoke, this is what happened Thursday: Blank affirmed previous comments that the public portion of his $1 billion Valhalla would be capped at $200 million. After hearing complaints from officials and residents (read: potential ticket and T-shirt buyers), he also vowed to assume responsibility for $50 million in infrastructure costs around the stadium and promised that his family foundation would invest another $15 million in the scarred neighborhoods that surround the proposed venue.” This shows that Blank will "really try to make this work and appease the masses." Schultz: "For that, I commend him." But it is "not nearly enough” (AJC.com, 3/7).