Atlanta, GA – A new stadium has been approved for the Atlanta Falcons after almost two years of discussions. The state agency that owns the 20-year-old Georgia Dome approved the framework on Monday.
The new arena will cost roughly $1 billion to build, and will feature a retractable roof. Negotiations as to how much the government will have to contribute and where it will be built are still ongoing.
Currently, the deal relies on the Falcons stumping up approximately 70 percent of the total cost, with the government expected to pay for the rest through a hotel tax. Using the revenue from said tax to pay for the stadium is still to be approved by the Fulton County Commission and the city of Atlanta.
The Falcons’ current stomping ground, the Georgia Dome, will be demolished once the new stadium is completed in 2017. The newly approved stadium is expected to boast a seating capacity of between 66,000 and 72,000; the Georgia Dome officially holds 71,228.
The new stadium will be owned by the Falcons and the Georgia World Congress Center Authority, with the football franchise expected to sign a 30-year deal and pay $2.5 million in rent annually. Revenue generated from parking and operations will go straight to the Falcons’ kitty.
If the deal is blocked by local leaders, Falcons CEO Rich McKay said the team would explore plans to relocate within Atlanta or the metro area:
“We would probably go back and look at a solution that involves an outdoor stadium somewhere else. That would not be our desire, and we don’t anticipate that. We’ve really put our eggs in this basket.”
The cost of the stadium will also be recovered through the sale of personal seat licenses (PSLs) in the new arena. Addressing those Falcons fans who worry such a scheme would price them out of watching their team, franchise owner Arthur Blank told Atlanta Journal-Constitution:
“There will be some component of PSLs. 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.”
The Georgia Dome is the 10th oldest arena out of the NFL’s 32 stadiums, but Rich McKay believes the new stadium will quickly forge its own legacy. He told Associated Press:
“I think this stadium should be iconic unto itself, and should put Atlanta in a position where we can attract any event that we desire to attract.”