Falcons’ iris-roofed stadium now to be second-priciest NFL stadium ever

The Atlanta Falcons stadium’s projected cost has risen again, this time to $1.4 billion, which would make it the second most expensive NFL stadium in history, after the $1.6 billion stadium shared by the New York Giants and Jets. No real word on why the inflated price tag, though the Atlanta Business Chronicle cited Falcons CFO Greg Beadles as indicating that “more detailed design plans allowed the team to more accurately budget the cost of the stadium” (i.e., “we guessed wrong”) and saying that “construction costs across the board continue to increase as the economy improves and demand grows” (i.e., “we have to compete for steel with stuff like the new Braves stadium now”).

The Falcons will cover the increased costs, though you have to wonder if they’ll take some of it out of that “waterfall fund” that the state set up for them out of any hotel tax revenues that aren’t needed to pay the initial stadium debt. Though the team’s owners were going to avail themselves of that money one way or another, no doubt, so it shouldn’t matter much to state taxpayers what in particular the team uses it on. Anyway, crazy roof, people! Who can put a price on that?

Falcons stadium bond hearing starts, follow @katieleslienews for live updates

Excellent: The Atlanta Journal Constitution’s City Hall reporter Katie Leslie is livetweeting today’s hearing of the citizen challenge to the Atlanta Falcons stadium bond sale, starting like 15 minutes ago. Among the highlights so far:

Follow along yourself!

Georgia Supreme Court to hear appeals of Falcons, Braves bond sales

The Georgia Supreme Court has set oral argument dates for the lawsuits against the stadium deals for the Atlanta Falcons (Monday) and Braves (next February). And … that’s about all I can tell you, because the Atlanta Journal Constitution story is behind a paywall, but if you’re an AJC subscriber, you can no doubt read more.

Okay, I can give you a little background: The two suits are actually appeals of the bond issuance for the stadiums, which means the bonds can’t be sold until they’ve been cleared.

None of this appears to have stopped construction from moving ahead — check out the Falcons’ construction photos, with all those, um, whatever they are already having been built — presumably because the teams have enough cash on hand to start things off with the bond money. But if either appeal is successful, then we’re entering uncharted waters, to say the least.

Falcons owner to Beckham: Sharing digs with an NFL team can be fun and rewarding!

And finally, Atlanta Falcons and as-yet-unnamed Atlanta MLS expansion team owner Arthur Blank thinks that David Beckham’s MLS expansion team should share a stadium with the Miami Dolphins:

Here’s what Blank had to say when asked if Beckham’s team should stadium share with the NFL’s Miami Dolphins and the University of Miami’s American Football team.

“Yes,” Blank told reporters. “It’s a challenge Beckham has to overcome. It’s important he finds a balance between the commercial side and the special, emotional atmosphere you want for a soccer stadium.”

Is Blank actually telling Beckham that he should throw in the towel on a new stadium and move into the Dolphins’ old place once it’s finished being renovated? Does he think maybe the Dolphins still want to build a new stadium, and could share with soccer? Has he completely forgotten that the Dolphins are doing renovations, and just assumes that every NFL owner is in the middle of building a new stadium, or will be soon? This is the guy who runs an organization that thinks London is in Spain, so anything is possible.

End-of-year lists: The lazy journalist’s way to earn a paycheck while sucking down eggnog

It’s the Christmas-to-New Year’s interregnum, which means it can be time for only one thing: end-of-year lists! (Okay, really for two things: end-of-year lists and waiting impatiently for post-Christmas technical glitches to get resolved.) And already we have the clear front-runner for most outrageous end-of-year-list lede, courtesy of our old friend, the Milwaukee Business Journal’s Rich Kirchen:

The year 2013 may be remembered as the launching pad for Milwaukee’s new downtown arena.

I say that despite the fact that metro-area leaders are nowhere near reaching a decision on whether building a new arena or upgrading the existing BMO Harris Bradley Center would be best. Weighing heavily on those decisions, of course, is how to pay for any arena project.

Right, so no one knows where or whether to build a Bucks arena, or how to pay for it, but … the local chamber of commerce organized a task force! Which “didn’t do much at the first confab, but the fact that nearly all 48 members participated shows they are serious.” That’s perfect attendance, people! What more can you ask for?

In addition, Kirchen notes that incoming NBA commissioner Adam Silver told Bucks sponsors in September that “the league views the BMO Harris Bradley Center as unfit for the league’s current standards,” which is practically in the commissioner job description, but which Kirchen made a big deal of at the time, so I suppose it’s not surprising that he’s making a big deal of it again now. Sure, it might have been nice if he’d mentioned how Milwaukee-area counties are lining up to refuse to contribute to arena costs, but that wouldn’t do much to help create the air of inevitability that Kirchen is going for, now would it?

Meanwhile, PolitiFact Georgia marks Boxing Day by celebrating its top Atlanta Falcons and Braves fact-checks of the year, from how Georgia appraises stadium property to the economic impact of a new stadium. Sadly, PolitiFact doesn’t actually fact-check its own fact-checks, but given the project’s propensity for finding partial truths on both sides on just about every issue — its four stadium rulings were one True, two Mostly Trues, and one Mostly False, though in the last case this seems to indicate that claims of job creation used real numbers, it just lied about what they mean — I feel comfortable grading PolitiFact’s work this year as Mostly Truthy.

Falcons stadium to cost an extra $200m, nobody bats an eyelash because stadiums

This morning on my weekly KUCI radio spot, host Heather McCoy asked me why it is that stadiums keep getting more and more ridiculously expensive to build. I replied that it has less to do with the price of raw materials or anything than the increasingly grandiose designs — like, just look at the new Atlanta Falcons stadium, which will cost $1 billion thanks to giant video screens and seats that vibrate when players make tackles and a roof that will close like an iris camera shutter.

And right on cue comes word that the cost of this monstrosity work of destination architecture will actually be $1.2 billion, because octagonal sliding iris roofs don’t come cheap. But not to worry, the Atlanta Journal Constitution reassures us, the public won’t be on the hook for the extra $200 million: “As specified in the deal struck early this year, bonds backed by Atlanta’s hotel-motel tax will cover $200 million of the cost of building the stadium. The rest will come from the Falcons, the NFL and personal seat license sales.”

Of course, the Falcons will also have about another $300 million in future tax kickbacks with which to defray their costs. But that’s not something that daily newspapers like to mention in polite company.

Still, this is undeniably $200 million more than Falcons owner Arthur Blank was expecting to spend, which makes you wonder: When told that he needs to write an extra $200 million in checks, does a guy like Blank really go, “Sure, what the heck, it’s only money”? Or does he figure that he’ll make it back on fans who’ll shell out more for tickets if only they can sit in vibrating seats? As usual, I’m not sure whether to assume that sports team owners have a secret plan for making money or are just as short-sighted as the rest of us. Not that it would matter, if they weren’t spending our money on their wacky dreams.

Falcons’ stadium site finally settled, state can get back to shoveling money at team

No surprise here since we’ve pretty much known it for a couple of weeks, Atlanta Falcons president Rich McKay has declared it to be “definite” that the team will build its new stadium on the so-called south site, the one with the two churches that were holding out for more money for their land.

The Georgia World Congress Center Authority will end up spending $6.2 million toward purchasing one of the sites, while the Falcons will kick in the other $27.8 million. Which when you add in the rest of the tax money being funneled to the Falcons over the next 37 years, you get a taxpayer cost of … oh, let’s call it an even $560 million. Which may come as a surprise to Minnesota Public Radio, but now they know.

Second Atlanta church approves land sale, Falcons stadium saga almost finally done

The congregation of Friendship Baptist Church has agreed to sell its property to the Atlanta Falcons for $19.5 million, finally putting an end to one of the longest-running, most boring stadium battles ever. (For those who were away this summer, the new Falcons stadium was going to require relocating two 100-year-old-plus churches, and they didn’t want to sell at the Falcons’ price, and if they didn’t sell the stadium would still be built but across the street and … bored yet?) Now all that’s left is to settle the problem of bankrupt Morris Brown College, which the city has decided will be the new home of Friendship Baptist, even though the college and its alumni are arguing otherwise.

This will no doubt get resolved eventually too, but it’ll likely mean even more headlines about the deal in the coming weeks. Headlines, conveniently enough for the Falcons, that won’t involve questions about the $554 million in tax money that the team will be getting for their new stadium. Hey, you don’t think they could have planned it that way, do you? Naah.

Atlanta Mayor adds $8.3m to church land offer for Falcons stadium, won’t say who’s paying

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed has now revealed how much more money he’s found to offer Mount Vernon Baptist Church for its land: another $8.3 million, bringing the total offer to $14.5 million to displace the church to make way for a Falcons stadium. That’s just $1 million less than the church’s last asking price.

Reed wouldn’t say, though, what the church’s reaction to the offer was, or even where the money came from:

“I’ll be happy to share that if we get a deal. I’m not going to have a conversation about where the resources to fund the $14.5 million offer are coming from until the church gives us their decision. I have a sense of where their leadership is, but I never pre-judge a vote because you never know how a vote’s going to turn out,” Reed said.

If Mount Vernon does approve the sale, then there will just be the little problem of the bankrupt college that doesn’t want to sell its land to the city in order to allow another church to move there and make way for the Falcons. Get comfortable, we could be here a while.

Atlanta either buying church site for Falcons or not buying church site for Falcons

Stop the presses! Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed says that he’s found the money to buy Mount Vernon Baptist Church so that it can be relocated to make way for a new Falcons stadium. Or some of the money, anyway. He won’t say how much, or where it came from, or really much of anything:

The private money “has materialized,” Reed said. “I’m not prepared to discuss it yet. But we’re much closer on the Mt. Vernon transaction.”

Reed wouldn’t say whether the new private money is coming from the Atlanta Falcons. A Falcons spokeswoman did not respond to an email requesting comment.

An attorney for Mt. Vernon, Bill Montgomery, wouldn’t comment except to say that he is “cautiously optimistic” about the discussions to sell the church. Reed echoed that.

“I think in five to seven days we have to get a deal, or we don’t. And at that point, I’ll be fine with supporting the north site if we’re unable to come to an agreement,” Reed said.

I guess stay tuned. But not for more than five to seven days.