The Atlanta Falcons this week got approval for a new stadium just south of the Georgia Dome.
Two factors came into play according to WSB radio reporter Jon Lewis: cost and community involvement.
Lewis says the Falcons must pay $800 million of the $1 billion price tag for the new dome stadium. The city of Atlanta will cover the rest with revenue through the hotel motel tax, which is dedicated strictly to a stadium. "People were complaining about the $200 million, saying why can't it go toward police or education, but in Georgia, the hotel motel tax revenue cannot be used for anything but a stadium," explains Lewis.
When the Georgia Dome was built 20 years, communities were promised money, but never got it. "This time, the community leadership wants a guarantee that money is going toward communities and quality of life improvements," and Lewis says Falcons owner Arthur Blank is committing $15 million toward the three neighborhoods surrounding the new site, and the city would pitch in $15 million, and leverage another $15 million on top.
A church will be displaced, and Lewis says a pastor does not have a problem with moving per se, it's about the money it will receive. "With the amount under negotiation, and the team and city adamant about the location, the church has a lot of leverage," says Lewis.
Why a new stadium now?
Lewis says the Georgia Dome is out of date, even after 20 years. "We need a new facility. The NFL will not come here without a new stadium. The BCS Championship game is looking for sites. Atlanta will be competitive with a new site, it will not be with the Georgia Dome," says Lewis, who says the same applies for the Final Four and Major League Soccer.
Cost is again a factor, according to Lewis, with the city only required to pay $200 million for its share of a new stadium, while renovations would cost $300 million.