Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank is committed to keeping the Falcons in downtown Atlanta, he said in a statement Saturday.
His statement says the right place is downtown Atlanta.
Blank is trying to calm speculation that the Falcons are trying to move to the suburbs after Falcons CEO Rich McKay told the Atlanta city council Wednesday that the team would look outside of downtown Atlanta if they couldn't get a new stadium by 2017.
“We would have no choice but to consider pursuing another option in metro Atlanta” if negotiations break down, McKay said. “Please don’t let anybody say that’s a threat. No, that’s just a reality of what we have to do as our lease is about to end.”
Blank says a business, they have to consider all of their options but they are not making alternate plans.
"We are focusing all of our time and resources on finalizing an agreement for the new stadium in downtown Atlanta," Blank said in his statement.
"He released that statement saying it's definitely going to happen," Falcons fan Raffeal Hunter told Channel 2 Action News. "But he is still showing a lot of wishy-wash."
Atlanta Mayor Reed wants to use the hotel-motel tax to pay for 20 percent of construction costs of the $1 billion stadium. The Falcons would pick up the rest. But Reed needs the city council to vote to allow him to use the tax for the stadium.
“We could do it (build a new stadium) for a lot less cost (elsewhere). That would not be our first choice,” McKay said, speaking for Falcons owner Arthur Blank. “We think (downtown) is where the deal should be done, but it is our intent to play in a new stadium in 2017.”
Atlanta Chief Operating Officer Duriya Farooqui told council members this deal is a lot better than what other cities got for their new stadium.
"A new stadium today is proposed at 20 percent public contribution," said Farooqui. "With no new taxes, no increase in taxes."
The city of Indianapolis funded 87 percent of the Colts new stadium. Public funds paid for more than two thirds of the Arizona Cardinals new digs, while Jerry Jones got 37 percent of taxpayer money to help build his palace for the Cowboys in Dallas, said Farooqui.
Others are worried about Atlanta losing other marquee events if a new stadium is built in the ‘burbs.
"We have events that have choices, that don't need to be in Atlanta," Invest Atlanta’s Brian McGowan told the council. "The SEC Championship, the Chick-Fil-A Bowl, the Bank of America Football Classic. We believe a new stadium will help retain those events into the
Atlanta is also in the running for games in the new college football playoff.
McKay rejected the idea of making extensive repairs and renovations to the Georgia Dome, saying it was a short-term solution.
Reed says the Dome would need $350 million in repairs over the next five to seven years.
“Every time I hear the repair number for the Dome, it goes up,” said Councilwoman Yolanda Adrean, who represents part of Buckhead.
Several Atlanta residents said during the public comment period that they were opposed to using tax money to pay for the stadium.
Others say a new stadium must help improve struggling neighbors in the area, in a way the Georgia Dome has never dome.
City Councilman Ivory Lee Young Jr. presented a thick stack of documents detailing what residents of nearby communities want from a new stadium.
“The community has a long list,” Young said. “The community deserves a hearing.”
Among the requests: better parking enforcement, job training and jobs inside the stadium, millions of dollars for a housing trust fund that could help rehabilitate homes, repairs for the crumbling Herndon Stadium at Morris Brown College and a pedestrian promenade from the Vine City Walmart to Centennial Olympic Park.
The City Council will vote on the funding plan at a later date.