The Union Recorder

March 7, 2013

Falcons, Reed agree on key stadium terms

TIM TUCKER
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

ATLANTA —

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed and the Atlanta Falcons have reached an agreement on key aspects of a deal for a proposed new downtown stadium.

Under terms to be announced this afternoon by Reed and Falcons owner Arthur Blank, the Falcons would assume responsibility for $50 million in infrastructure costs related to the stadium.

Also, the Arthur Blank Family Foundation would invest $15 million in projects aimed at boosting English Avenue, Vine City, Castleberry Hill and other neighborhoods close to the stadium.

In addition, Invest Atlanta, the city’s economic development agency, would commit another $15 million in tax allocation district dollars for economic development projects in the area.

The terms to be announced today also call for an equal opportunity plan that will ensure at least 31 percent participation in design and construction by women and minority business enterprises.

Today’s announcement does not mean a final deal is in place among all parties. The Falcons and the Georgia World Congress Center Authority continue to negotiate terms of a memorandum of understanding that spells out their deal.

Various aspects of a deal will ultimately require approvals from the Atlanta City Council, GWCCA board, Invest Atlanta and the Fulton County Commission.

The public contribution for stadium construction will be capped at $200 million, which would come from the hotel-motel tax collection by the city of Atlanta and unincorporated Fulton County.

Invest Atlanta would be asked to issue the bonds using the hotel-motel tax that currently supports the Georgia Dome. The city’s economic development arm became involved after state political leaders balked at issuing construction bonds through the state.

The rest of the cost of the $1 billion facility would come from the Falcons and other sources.

“We appreciate the mayor and his staff’s diligence in moving the agreements for a new stadium toward completion,” Blank said in a statement today. “We are grateful to the members of the Atlanta City Council who have given us the opportunity to address their questions or concerns, and we will continue to work with the mayor, city council, Invest Atlanta and our partners at the Georgia World Congress Center in reaching final agreements.”

Reed, in a statement, said he was pleased that the Falcons will get to remain downtown, and that neighborhoods would be revitalized in the process.

“Equally important, a new stadium will lead to the creation of well-paying jobs during its construction at a time when many of our friends and neighbors are seeking employment,” Reed said. “This new stadium will also keep the city of Atlanta at the forefront of the hospitality industry in America as we pursue our goal of attracting 40 million visitors annually. It will strengthen the viability of the more than 200,000 jobs that support our tourism and convention business every single day.”