Arthur Blank bringing Major League Soccer to Atlanta
8:16 am October 30, 2013, by T Orlando Bedwetter
Unfazed by the injuries and uneven play by his beloved Atlanta Falcons, popular owner Arthur Blank remains upbeat at his
Flowery Branch executive lounge. Although popular opinion concerning building his new stadium remains low, Arthur Blank believes that, in the long run, his efforts will not have been in vain.
"I think there is a healthy disconnect between American Football Fans and European Style Football, or as we call it Soccer" said Blank. "But, I have faith that the general football fan will embrace soccer as we know it. It's really just a matter of perspective. Once American fans learn to tolerate absurd penalties, low scoring, and numerous injuries they will see it's really not that much different then what they are used to seeing now."
Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, himself in the middle of his re-election campaign weighed in with this quote " I know many are quick to point out that buidling an enormous stadium that can accomodate the large crowds expected for American Football will seem absurdly empty in the first few years...But I believe MLS can draw large numbers. In fact, I can almost guarantee it. "
Asked about the Mayors comment, Blank responded in kind.
"Kasim and I share a special relationship that most owners/entrepenuers and city officials rarely have. He knows this city, and has his finger on the pulse of this vibrant metropolis..If he says he can draw the crowds from Buford Highway, then he can deliver. I know if you truly want to see where MLS fans can be groomed, well look no farther then the masses that stand outside any Home Depot every morning. The same desire to work hard can be focused on your new Atlanta MLS franchise."
Still, some bristle as the Atlanta Falcons revealed Monday that the projected cost of their new downtown stadium has risen to $1.2 billion, a jump of $200 million from the $1 billion figure that the team long used as a ballpark estimate.
Falcons president Rich McKay attributed the revised budget to a variety of factors, including the plan for an "explosive" design, complex retractable roof and 62,000-square-foot video screen within the roof opening. Also driving the price higher, McKay said, were the costs of property acquisition, related sewer work and weather-proofing an indoor-outdoor facility.
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.
The NFL agreed in May to provide $200 million, but the Falcons haven’t said how much of the remaining $800 million they hope to raise from a seat-license program in which fans will be asked to pay one-time fees for the right to purchase season tickets.
McKay said the Falcons were not surprised by the need to increase the stadium budget in light of team owner Arthur Blank’s embrace of a complex design proposed by the lead architect, Loo,Head and John, LLC.
“Maybe the amount (of the increase was surprising), but not that the number was going up,” McKay said in an interview after a Monday meeting of a Georgia World Congress Center Authority committee.
“We never wavered from the design,” McKay added. “As opposed to backing off from it to get to a budget that was in a document somewhere, we continued to enhance it, so that drives a lot of that (added) cost. When something like this comes down the pipe, you just don't flush that opportunity away."
Georgia World Congress Center Authority executive director Mr Turdson said the Falcons’ revised budget “is just a reflection that (Blank) wants this building to be the sh*t.”
We have included a priliminary sketch of the stadium in question . http://blogs.acj.com/atlanta-falcons-bl ... his-link?/