FALCONS STEP CLOSER TO NEW STADIUM

The Georgia World Congress Center Authority has approved terms for a new $1 billion stadium on Monday that would replace the Georgia Dome and become the new home of NFL franchise the Atlanta Falcons.

Jennifer LeMaster, a spokeswomen for the Georgia state agency, stated the project will be partly funded by the city's eight per cent hotel tax - estimated to be in the region of $300 million - and the remainder of the cost will be supplied by the Falcons.

LeMaster highlighted the venue is planned to be constructed ahead of the 2017 NFL season and include a retractable roof and replace the Georgia Dome, which was completed in 1992.

The Falcons wanted an open-air stadium and more control over management of the facility, LeMaster explained. The primary purpose of the new stadium is to keep the Falcons in Atlanta, she added. It is hoped that the new stadium, which could have a capacity of up to 80,000 fans, will also encourage the NFL to hold a Super Bowl in Atlanta.

The deal is still contingent on the Georgia legislature increasing the bonding capacity of the World Congress Center Authority from its current $200 million to $300 million.

Rich McKay, CEO of the Atlanta Falcons, said the franchise would explore plans to relocate within Atlanta or the metro area if the deal is not approved by local leaders.

He said: "We would probably go back and look at a solution that involves an outdoor stadium somewhere else. That would not be our desire, and we don't anticipate that. We've really put our eggs in this basket.

"I think this stadium should be iconic unto itself, and should put Atlanta in a position where we can attract any event that we desire to attract."

Posted on 11/12/2012