Published Friday, February 15, 2013
The $1 billion questions heard in the Atlanta area these days: Who will pay for a new stadium for the Atlanta Falcons, and where will it be located?
Falcons owner Arthur Blank and the team want a $1 billion retractable roof facility built in the downtown area on or near where the Georgia Dome nows stands and serves the team. Blank says he will pony up $800 million if the city will pay the other $200 million from hotel/motel tax receipts. Opponents don’t want to spend the tax money and say the Dome still serves the Falcons well.
Falcons officials said Wednesday the team would have a new stadium by 2017 either downtown or in the suburbs. We suspect all this posturing by all parties will be worked out and a new stadium will be built downtown. But the thought of moving the team to the suburbs is attractive to many fans.
As this issue plays out, we found it interesting to look at the history of stadiums for football and baseball in Georgia’s capital city and what each facility cost.
In the mid-1960s Atlanta landed both the Atlanta Braves and the Falcons. The Braves moved from Milwaukee and the Falcons were a new expansion team.
Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium was built to be home for both teams. That stadium was completed in 1965 at a cost of $18 million. That’s seems incredibly cheap when we are talking about $1 billion for a new stadium today.
Both teams shared Atlanta-Fulton County stadium through 1991, when the Georgia Dome was built and operated by the Georgia World Congress Center. The Dome opened in 1992 as home of the Falcons. Cost to build the Dome was $214 million. The Dome has also been host to hundreds of other major sporting events including the Super Bowl and SEC college football championship games.
When the 1996 Olympics came to Atlanta, the Centennial Olympic Stadium was built costing $207 million -- $170 million of that cost came from private donations. The Olympics Stadium was downsized following the Summer Games and has been home of the Braves since.
Now there’s the big push for a new stadium for the Falcons with a $1 billion price tag. Is the new stadium needed for Atlanta to compete for major national sporting events like the Super Bowl? Should $200 million in hotel/motel tax be used if Blank is willing to pay $800 million? Should the deal be cut to keep the Falcons in downtown Atlanta, or do you like the idea of the team moving to the suburbs? If you want them to move -- which direction -- north, south, east or west of the downtown area? Would you want the team in our community?