It looks like Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank may have decided that getting less stadium money now could be better than holding out for an extra $100 million. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:
The Atlanta Falcons have indicated they would be willing to kick in at least $100 million more for construction of a new stadium, a move that could help secure the public funding needed to finance the proposed $1 billion stadium, according to three people with knowledge of the negotiations.
The deal would call for the NFL franchise to fork over $800 million for a stadium, up from the $700 million originally planned, to help garner the support of state and city officials for the proposed retractable roof stadium, said the three, who requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the talks.
The deal also calls for the Falcons to fork over roughly $60 million to pay off much of the debt on the state-owned Georgia Dome, which would be demolished, according to two of the sources. The current debt on the dome is about $98 million. The city of Atlanta likely would issue the remaining $200 million bonds for the stadium, backed by the city’s hotel-motel tax, the two people said.
WSB-TV further reports that a revised deal could be announced as early as next week, though it’s not immediately clear whether “deal” means “everything signed off on” or “issued a press release.”
Clearly this would be a fair bit better than the previous deal, since the Falcons would be putting up about $160 million more, in exchange for not having to go through all that silliness about a public vote of the state legislature. That would still leave the public on the hook for around $250 million, though.
If this goes forward, the focus would no doubt turn to the Atlanta city council, which would now have to vote on issuing the $200 million in stadium bonds. But at least we can be sure that the council will be debating the merits and drawbacks of the stadium plan rationally and calmly and—
Conjecture involving an NFL team moving to Los Angeles was renewed this week when Atlanta’s mayor warned that city’s council that Los Angeles is on the lookout for an NFL team, but added that the franchise’s owner is committed to staying in Atlanta.
Mayor Kasim Reed told Atlanta television station WAGA that he wants action within 60 days on a new Falcons stadium funding plan. He told the station that he reminded the council in a private meeting that Los Angeles is attempting to bring the NFL back to the city after the loss of the Rams and Raiders in the mid-1990s.
“There are multiple business ownership groups, business groups, in Los Angeles, that are actively looking to place a team in Los Angeles,” said Reed. “And, they are willing to pay a heck of a lot more than $200 million for that opportunity.”