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Atlanta council, mayor, Falcons, GWCC strike stadium deal
by Staff Reports
March 07, 2013 06:29 PM | 4236 views | 1 1 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
In a news release, the city of Atlanta announced at a press conference Thursday the administration of Mayor Kasim Reed, the Atlanta Falcons and the Georgia World Congress Center Authority presented a framework agreement to the public on a new retractable roof stadium in downtown Atlanta. The deal comes after a series of open meetings hosted by the Atlanta City Council’s finance/executive committee.

Under the framework, the estimated $1 billion stadium would be funded with $800 million from Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank with an additional $200 million in bond financing backed by revenue from the city’s hotel/motel tax, if approved by the council. The council will have to approve the agreement to continue the local hotel-motel tax through 2050, which would back the revenue bonds. The current tax is set to expire in 2020.

The framework includes $30 million in direct investment in the Vine City, English Avenue and Castleberry Hill neighborhoods. $15 million will come directly from the Arthur Blank Foundation with another $15 million from tax allocation district proceeds. Additionally, both the city and the Falcons will attempt to leverage another $15 million in private investment, bringing the total community investment to $45 million.

The Atlanta Falcons will pay for up to $50 million in infrastructural improvements in the area immediately surrounding the new stadium.

Council members spoke at the press conference, voicing specific attention to the community benefit aspect of the deal.

“It is important to note that the city council still has to vote on this proposed deal,” said council President Ceasar C. Mitchell. “As soon as we receive the proposal in the form of legislation we will vet it. I am very encouraged that the proposed agreement includes some of the principles we addressed in work sessions and public hearings. This is not a financial transaction but a 360 degree transaction that will impact not only the local business community and infrastructure but Atlanta’s citizens and taxpayers, people who live in the surrounding community.”

District 3 Councilman Ivory Young, whose district includes the neighborhoods surrounding the stadium, agreed with Mitchell.

“We are talking about an opportunity to transform,” Young said. “This investment will begin with people. We will take this investment and leverage it in ways that will begin to restore the character of the community.”

Post 1 At-Large Councilman Michael Julian Bond added, “I am pleased to see that this deal takes into account the human element. Most people just see a stadium being built, but we are actually setting the cornerstone for modern Atlanta. I also look forward to vetting the formal legislation and continuing the public input process.”

Finance/executive committee vice chair and District 8 Councilwoman Yolanda Adrean, who represents part of Buckhead said she was content with the infrastructural aspects of the deal.

“One of our greatest concerns was the cost of infrastructure for supporting the new stadium, because we all knew that could be pretty significant,” said Adrean. “With this new agreement that we are about to study, I am delighted that between the public opinions that have been cited and the council members’ concerns that the negotiation team took them seriously and have agreed to a $50 million budget on the falcons side of the balance sheet to pay for these infrastructure costs.”

Blank said while a final site has not yet been determined, the proposed south site is the preferred site between all parties involved in the negotiations.

Adrean said “the ultimate location of the stadium will help to determine the infrastructure costs including possible enhancements to MARTA. This conversation is not over. We still need to understand the location, the design elements, and whether we can effectively move people through the use of MARTA. I look forward to tackling those details.”

The council now awaits formal legislation from the administration to consider.

“As a council, we are excited about taking the ball from here and getting it across the goal line,” Mitchell said.

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