The Atlanta City Council late Monday voted to approve a funding plan for a new downtown Atlanta Falcons stadium, pushing the project over its biggest political hurdle.
The council voted 11-4 in favor of the use of city hotel-motel taxes to pay $200 million toward construction costs and potentially several times that toward costs of financing, maintaining and operating the stadium through 2050.
The vote came three days after the Georgia World Congress Center Authority approved the deal and left one more vote — by the city of Atlanta’s economic development agency — needed for the stadium project to move forward. The board of Invest Atlanta, which would issue the bonds to fund the public portion of the construction cost, is expected to vote Tuesday.
The Falcons expect to be playing in the new retractable roof venue in 2017, while their current home, the Georgia Dome, would be demolished. By August, the city and the GWCCA will try to work out a deal to buy two churches on the preferred site immediately south of the Dome.
“The agreement we negotiated is one of the best (stadium deals) in America,” Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed said after the council vote.
“We’re going to build a terrific stadium,” Reed added. “… We have kept our team in downtown Atlanta. It’s a very big deal. Every major American city whose team moved to the suburbs took a significant financial hit. … We did the right thing today.”
Falcons president Rich McKay, who has led the team’s stadium negotiations for more than two years and sat through Monday’s 6 1/2-hour council meeting, expressed satisfaction but deferred celebration for at least one more day.
“We’re obviously pleased. We’re not going to jump up and down and go crazy because we realize we’ve still got another vote,” McKay said.
The resolution passed by the city council authorized extending the hotel-motel tax through 2050 and approved other agreements related to the deal.
“We are grateful for the Council’s vote of support today,” Falcons owner Arthur Blank said in a statement. “The city of Atlanta and state of Georgia have a history of building strong public-private partnerships in areas that contribute to economic development. This project is no exception.”
Before the final vote, the city council amended the deal to stipulate that no city general-fund dollars will be used on the project, including for related infrastructure costs; that Invest Atlanta will facilitate adoption of a community benefits plan before issuing bonds; and that the Falcons will increase their commitment to off-site roadwork and related costs from a maximum of $50 million to $70 million if needed.
Read more: AJC