Atlanta Falcons: Will Fans Warm Up to New Stadium Talk?

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Atlanta Falcons: Will Fans Warm Up to New Stadium Talk?

Postby fun gus » Sun Dec 09, 2012 11:35 am

Christmas is right around the corner, and Atlanta Falcons fans could be getting news of a pretty expensive gift for the near future. The problem is, many fans would seemingly rather take the receipt and return the item.

Leon Stafford and Tim Tucker of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported yesterday that the Atlanta Falcons and Georgia World Congress Center (GWCC) authorities will meet on Monday to "vote on the framework of a possible deal."

That "deal" would give Atlanta a brand-new, retractable-roof stadium within a mile, or on the site of, the existing Georgia Dome, which has housed the Falcons and multiple premiere sporting events for 20 years.

Falcons owner Arthur Blank opened discussion of a new home stadium for the team in 2006, and since then, talks between the team's ownership/management and the Georgia World Congress Center have heated up. A new stadium, if the deal continues to materialize, would hopefully go up by 2017.

While the novelty of a state-of-the-art facility sounds amusing, fans have not taken to the new-stadium talks. In fact, according to a poll run by the AJC in July, 67 percent of Atlanta residents are opposed to the new stadium plan.

Here is where ESPN's Rob Parker finds another excuse to write an uninformed article on why Atlanta doesn't support its sports teams.

The reality is, fans have a realistic gripe.

The Georgia Dome has been owned and operated by the state under the GWCC since its opening in 1992. The mantra of a state-run entity not meeting and exceeding standards rears its ugly head here, but there's no reason to think the Georgia Dome is a tired venue.

The outlined areas indicate the prospective sites for a new, retractable roof stadium. The Georgia Dome and Georgia World Congress Center squeezed between. (Photo from Google Earth)

Blank simply is stuck in the mindset of wanting the bigger, better toy, and the state and Atlanta mayor Kasim Reed have jumped on board.

The resulting framework?

Blank might actually go out-of-pocket to fund a huge chunk of the $900 million-plus it will take to successfully erect a new facility, but the remaining funds, as of now, are expected to come out of patrons' pockets.

Specifically, it has been reported since talks of the new stadium began that anywhere from $200 million to $400 million of the budget will come from tax dollars raised through the hotel-motel tax, which was passed for continuation in 2010. The hotel-motel tax is designed to create revenue through tourism to enhance tourist-specific areas in the city.

So, really, Atlantans won't be taking the bulk of the load there, but they might want to see that revenue go toward improving the parts of downtown and the surrounding area that need improvement that will, in turn, improve the tourism experience.

Seems like a valid argument; $300 million could go a long way in improving the area. Others within the community are just as concerned with the fact that a new stadium would be considered a priority of state-fund talk when the school systems are suffocating.

The other portion of public money that is expected to come through in this deal is from actual seat-licensing. Seat-licensing is a concept that has been used with major stadium projects in the past, most notably with the the Jets and Giants' new stadium, and Jerry Jones' spaceship in Arlington.

This process would require fans to pay fees, which could cost upwards of $1,000, to reserve their priority seating. Season ticket holders aren't happy about the prospect of game attendance becoming even more expensive in these economic times.

Falcons owner Arthur Blank has helped create one of the most likable organizations in the NFL.
Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

That's especially egregious considering the fact that most fans, despite Blank's insecurity, don't think the Georgia Dome is such a bad venue.

Makes sense, considering the Atlanta Falcons do fine at home. So far this season, the Falcons have not lost a game at home. They have two more games against the Giants and Buccaneers remaining in the venue.

The Falcons are 32-6 in the dome since 2008. It's considered one of the loudest venues in the NFL, thanks to its bowl-shaped, indoor configuration.

Also, Atlanta fans filled the Georgia Dome in 2011 better than Giants and Jets fans did in their fancy new stadium, despite more aimless claims from ESPN's Parker.

According to ESPN statistics, the Falcons have filled 98.3 percent of the Georgia Dome in home games this season. The Giants are at 97.3, while the Jets are at 95.9.

Sure, you can argue a fancy new stadium will create more fan interest that could send Atlanta to new attendance levels, but not if fans are having to take the brunt of the cost by paying what are essentially extra fees.

The Georgia Dome is proving to be a solid venue, and it's only 20 years old. I will say, as a Falcons fan myself, my latest experience at the Georgia Dome last Thursday against the Saints only reinforced my own opinion that the Dome has plenty of life left in it.

Most Falcons fans, to this point, have agreed the "Dome-Field Advantage" of the past five seasons has been remarkably positive.

If the functionality of the Georgia Dome is proving substantial, what perks do Blank and the city envision?

With an outstanding home record, the Atlanta Falcons and their fans have given little thought to faults within the Georgia Dome.
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

It's true that a new stadium will definitely make Atlanta's pitch for a future Super Bowl much brighter, but the big game would only bring a temporary burst in financial stimulation to the city.

Other than that, could it really be any more than dumbfounding to think a new stadium would create an exponentially better moneymaker for the city, especially when the Georgia Dome is doing just fine at that?

Essentially, the new stadium talks here in Atlanta have only served as a microcosm of the more-is-more, less-is-ignored blueprint of economics that is truly an issue, not only on the sports front, but obviously from a national standpoint.

Aside from an aesthetic difference, a new stadium wouldn't serve the community much.

Fans have taken notice, though it has been hard for them to actually voice their concerns because of the novelty of the concept.

In other words, most fans will likely be fundamentally against the process, but excited enough to see it through. That's how powerful sports can be in our society.

But the truth of the matter is that Atlanta needs anything but a $1 billion venue. Fans could see some easing in prices, and the community would rather see a heap of tax revenue go into other projects. ... adium-talk
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Re: Atlanta Falcons: Will Fans Warm Up to New Stadium Talk?

Postby Pudge » Sun Dec 09, 2012 12:22 pm

The author makes some decent points, and some other good ones. Mainly I think the economic talking points are the strongest argument against the stadium.

But some points he raises are pretty weak at best.

Such as saying that the Falcons success in the Dome is some sort of indicator of the quality of the Dome. Ehh, pretty weak argument if you ask me. The Giants are 13-9 in MetLife Stadium since 2010 when they started playing there. Guess what they were in their last 22 home games at Giants Stadium? 13-9. The Jets are 14-9 in MetLife, and 12-11 in Giants Stadium prior to it.

Point being, it's the quality of the team rather than the stadium itself that is really affecting the home record.

The fans are going to continue to show up as long as the Falcons keep winning.

The other argument about the prospect of a Super Bowl coming to Atlanta being no big deal...Let's say they build the stadium in 2017 and are in it for 15 years (til 2032). How many Super Bowls can the new stadium get in the next 20 years? At least 1 for sure. Maybe 2 or 3. How many Super Bowls will the GA Dome get in the next 20 years? Zero.

Sure, Super Bowls aren't going to single-handedly save a city in economic crisis. But it does add prestige and does give the city an economic boost for 2 weeks.

For the record, I don't have a problem with anyone that is "anti-new stadium." There are plenty of reasons to not build it. But the thing people have to realize is that the Georgia Dome is near the bottom of the league in terms of generating revenue for the Falcons. And investing $300 million or whatever into renovating the Dome isn't going to change that.

The only way Blank gets his revenue share up is by building a brand new stadium, where he gets to negotiate from the start, rather than having a deal grandfathered in from a generation before.

And once you're aware of that, you know a new stadium is inevitable.
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Re: Atlanta Falcons: Will Fans Warm Up to New Stadium Talk?

Postby fun gus » Mon Dec 10, 2012 8:31 am

For almost two years, representatives of the Georgia World Congress Center Authority and the Atlanta Falcons have been negotiating a deal on a proposed downtown stadium. On Monday morning, the GWCCA’s board is expected to vote on the business terms of an agreement. If the nonbinding term sheet — a 24-page document — is approved, negotiations would continue toward a binding and more detailed memorandum of understanding.

Approval on Monday would not signal that a deal is done, but it would be a significant milestone in the protracted negotiations.

Based on documents obtained under the state’s Open Records Act and interviews with people involved in the process, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has compiled a summary of the major points of the proposed deal. All words within quotation marks are taken directly from the proposed term sheet.

What would be built?

“A new operable-roof, state-of-the-art, multi-purpose stadium on (the) GWCCA campus that will serve as home of the Atlanta Falcons … and will host numerous other sporting, entertainment, convention and civic events.”

Who would own the stadium?

The Georgia World Congress Center Authority, a state agency

Who would operate it?

The Falcons, under terms of a 30-year license agreement with the GWCCA

What is the timetable?

“It is the goal to have the (stadium) completed for the 2017 NFL season.”

Where would it be built?

“(The stadium) will be situated on the GWCCA campus on one of two proposed site locations, either north or south of the Georgia Dome.” The south site, which has gotten the most attention since the spring, is adjacent to the Dome, near the intersection of Martin Luther King Jr. Drive and Northside Drive. The north site, which was the focus during the first year-plus of negotiations, is about a half mile from the Dome, near the intersection of Northside Drive and Ivan Allen Jr. Boulevard. A final decision on the site has been deferred until the negotiation of the memorandum of understanding early next year.

What would it cost?

The term sheet does not specify a price for the stadium because design work has not been done. “Assurances of a maximum price … will be established before any GWCCA debt is issued.” Cost estimates in prior GWCCA-commissioned studies have ranged from $948 million to $1.032 billion.

Who would pay for it?

According to the term sheet, the stadium would be paid for in three ways:

Hotel/motel tax: The GWCCA would contribute, subject to governmental approvals, the proceeds of a revenue bond offering backed by the tax on hotel/motel rooms in the city of Atlanta and Fulton County through the year 2050. The term sheet does not specify the amount that would be raised by the bond offering, although the GWCCA previously has projected the figure in the ballpark of $300 million. The amount “may be positively or negatively impacted” by interest rates and other factors.

Personal seat licenses: “All net proceeds from the sale of seats rights” would go toward the stadium’s cost. Personal seat licenses, sold by many NFL teams, require fans to pay one-time fees, often thousands of dollars, for the right to subsequently buy season tickets in a specific seat for the life of the building or a defined number of years. A GWCCA consultant estimated a seat-license program here might generate $100 million to $200 million, probably closer to the former.Falcons contribution: Other than the proceeds of the bonds backed by the hotel/motel tax, plus the seat-license sales, the Falcons “are responsible for funding the remainder of (the stadium’s) costs, including cost overruns” and must “provide reasonable evidence to GWCCA of a financing plan.” (Ballpark math: If the hotel-motel tax covers about $300 million and PSLs about $100 million, the Falcons would be responsible for about $600 million. The team could be eligible for up to $200 million in loans and grants from the NFL.)

What’s not included?

Two major items aren’t included in “stadium cost” as defined in the term sheet. That means the Falcons would not be responsible for these items, which would add to the taxpayers’ cost in some way:

Off-site infrastructure improvements, such as nearby roads: “The parties agree that, upon final selection of the site, there may be offsite infrastructure costs … that will be subject to future budget considerations and a funding agreement. … Neither party assumes responsibility for such costs. … To the extent permitted by law, GWCCA may cooperate reasonably with (the team) in pursuing other possible governmental funding sources.” Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed has said such costs could push the price for the total project to $1.2 billion.
Property acquisition: The GWCCA would be responsible for “obtaining … and providing” all property needed for the stadium site. The GWCCA would have to acquire property to build on the south site and also is in the process of attempting to acquire the Herndon Homes property near the north site, which the GWCCA already owns.

Would Falcons pay rent?

The Falcons would pay annual rent on the stadium to the GWCCA. The rent would begin at $2.5 million in the first year and would increase by 2 percent annually.

Who would cover future improvements to the new stadium?

If additional money is available from the portion of the hotel-motel tax proceeds allocated to the stadium after debt payments are made, those funds could be used for capital improvements. Otherwise, all capital improvements would be the Falcons’ responsibility.

Who would pay operating expenses?

The Falcons “will be responsible … for all costs” of operating the stadium, including utilities, insurance and maintenance.

Who would get stadium revenue?

The Falcons would retain all stadium revenue. The team’s revenue streams would include naming rights, food and beverage concessions, sponsorships, advertising, club seats and suites.

Who would get parking revenue?

The Falcons would retain revenue from a parking area on the immediate stadium site, while the GWCCA would retain revenue from other nearby parking areas it controls. A separate, detailed parking agreement is to be negotiated.

What would happen to the Georgia Dome?

“Upon final transition of operations to the (new stadium), the Georgia Dome will be demolished.”

What would be done with the Dome site?

If the stadium is built on the south site, the Georgia Dome site initially “will be converted to surface parking” for the new stadium. “The Falcons recognize that GWCCA may in the future redevelop a portion” of that parking area, “not to exceed 60,000 square feet,” for another purpose. If the new stadium is built on the north site, which is farther from the Dome, the Dome site “may be redeveloped as determined by GWCCA in its sole discretion.”

What happens to the Dome’s non-Falcons events?

The term sheet carves out special treatment for events, such as college football and basketball games, that relocate to the new stadium from the Georgia Dome. The GWCCA “will continue as the event manager” for such “Georgia Dome legacy events,” including negotiating and entering into contracts and directing event-day production. Fifteen such events are listed, including the SEC Championship football game, the Chick-fil-A Bowl and Kickoff games, Georgia State and high school football, the Bank of America Atlanta Football Classic and ACC, SEC and NCAA basketball tournaments. The term sheet also provides for the stadium to host GWCCA events, such as conventions, and Atlanta “bid events,” such as college basketball’s Final Four or college football’s national championship game.

How would personal seat licenses work?

The term sheet includes provisions for a sale of seat rights “to help fund construction,” but it does not go into detail. The Falcons would have “the right to determine the exact terms of such seat rights program, including price, term, etc.” The team has not provided information about its plans.

Would Falcons be locked in?

“The Falcons will be required to enter into a non-relocation agreement” for 30 years.

Would an MLS team play there?

The stadium will be designed to accommodate soccer. The proposed deal gives a high priority on the stadium’s booking calendar to Major League Soccer games if an MLS team “owned or controlled by the Falcons or its principals is established within 10 years” of the stadium’s opening.

Who would lead design and construction?

The GWCCA and the Falcons “will jointly participate in the selection process for the design professionals and construction team.” The Falcons or their designee “will serve as project manager” during design and construction. The GWCCA will have “monitoring rights over (the) construction.”

What’s next?

Provided the term sheet is approved, “GWCCA and the Falcons will endeavor to finalize a detailed MOU (memorandum of understanding) as expeditiously as possible.” Some complex issues, such as the site, and many details would have to be resolved as part of the MOU. Unlike the term sheet, the MOU would be a binding document.

Who must approve a deal?

The MOU “will require approval by the GWCCA’s board and (require) other applicable state governmental approvals.” Also, “the offering of hotel/motel tax revenue bonds is subject to enactment of legislation increasing GWCCA’s … debt ceiling.” The current debt ceiling is $200 million, and the issue of raising it is expected to go before the Georgia Legislature early next year. In addition, “the transaction … will require approval by the NFL.”
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Re: Atlanta Falcons: Will Fans Warm Up to New Stadium Talk?

Postby Pudge » Mon Dec 10, 2012 5:25 pm

Sounds like Arthur going to try and give Jerry a run for his money for who can build the "New Mecca for Sporting Events."
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Re: Atlanta Falcons: Will Fans Warm Up to New Stadium Talk?

Postby Cyril » Mon Dec 10, 2012 6:29 pm

My E-mail From Arthur,

Dear Cyril,

Earlier today, the Georgia World Congress Center Authority (GWCCA) Board approved a term sheet for the proposed new stadium on the GWCC campus. This is an important step toward reaching a final agreement, which we anticipate will occur in 2013.

A new stadium in Atlanta is important to the Falcons for a number of reasons: It will allow us to provide a league-competitive game day experience to our fans, and it will help the team remain competitive on the field over a long period of time. In addition, it puts into place a long-term solution following the expiration of our lease at the Georgia Dome.

But this new stadium is not just about the Falcons. It will be an iconic asset owned by the state that will provide economic benefits to our city, region and state. During the construction phase alone, the new stadium will add more than 4,500 new jobs to the state’s economy and generate more than $400 million in total economic impact, including more than $160 million in personal income.

In addition, a new stadium allows the city and state to remain competitive with other venues across the country in areas such as attracting new convention business, retaining events currently held in the Georgia Dome, hosting new marquee events in the future, and possibly adding Major League Soccer to Atlanta’s professional sports team mix.

All of these opportunities provide significant positive economic impacts for Georgia. For example, four of the Dome’s largest annual events – the SEC Championship Game, Chick-fil-A Bowl, Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game and Bank of America Football Classic – generate a combined annual economic impact of more than $100 million. And hosting marquee events such as a Super Bowl, World Cup and BCS Football Championship Game would have a combined potential to generate more than $450 million in economic impact.

The proposed financial arrangement for the new stadium is also beneficial to the state. Unlike the Georgia Dome, which was financed 100 percent with public money, the Falcons have agreed to fund about two-thirds of the cost of construction, as well as any cost overruns, with private dollars. In addition, the Falcons will take on the operating and capital risks that the state currently bears at the Georgia Dome. We are willing to do these things to ensure a great game day experience for our fans, and to be part of providing new opportunities to the city and state.

The public funding for the remaining one-third of the stadium construction costs will be covered by the existing hotel-motel tax, which is largely paid by visitors, not local residents. So, unless a Georgia resident stays in a hotel in the city of Atlanta or certain other parts of Fulton County, he or she will pay nothing in taxes to build the new stadium.

We are encouraged by today’s vote, and will continue to work in partnership with the GWCCA to reach a final agreement that is beneficial to all stakeholders, including the neighborhoods surrounding the new stadium. You can stay informed regarding our progress by visiting and clicking on the link to the new stadium site.

We will strive to keep you informed of our progress along the way. Thank you for your support this season, and best wishes for a happy holiday season.

Arthur M. Blank
Owner & Chairman
Atlanta Falcons
"Everything Counts"


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Re: Atlanta Falcons: Will Fans Warm Up to New Stadium Talk?

Postby backnblack » Mon Dec 10, 2012 6:47 pm


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