Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed said he expects the city council to have an Atlanta Falcons stadium deal on its plate by the end of this month.
“Sometime in the month of March, we’ll be coming to you to give you, once we are finished visiting with the Falcons, a detailed review of terms of the conversation,” Reed said in a meeting with the council Friday. “You all will get that immediately, as soon as we have an agreement with the Georgia World Congress Center and the Falcons.”
Reed said the parties are in “robust” negotiations. The current version of the deal would have the city issue $200 million in bonds backed by hotel-motel tax revenue to partly fund a $1 billion stadium that would replace the Georgia Dome. The council would have to approve a funding deal.
The Falcons, the NFL and personal seat license sales would pay the rest of the construction cost.
Falcons executives have said they want a new stadium by the 2017 season, when their Dome lease could end, and would consider moving outside the city if they can’t complete a deal downtown.
This week, leaders in Clayton, Henry and Hall counties expressed interest in luring the Falcons outside the city limits if a deal with Atlanta collapses.
Flowery Branch Mayor Mike Miller told Channel 2 Action News that he would love to have the stadium in his Hall County town, where the Falcons’ training facility is located.
“How cool would it be if the Superbowl were in Flowery Branch, Georgia?” said Miller.
“If I were in leadership in another county, I would give my best effort as well,” Atlanta City Council president Ceasar Mitchell said of the overtures. “I would only be worried if we didn’t care about continuing a long-term relationship with the Falcons.”
Friday’s briefing from Reed came during a special work session on the topic called by the City Council. Nothing was voted on.
After the meeting, Mitchell said the council wants to deal with a stadium proposal before leaving for spring recess in April, after which it goes into budget season through June.
“So I don’t want us trying to deal with all of these issues at the same time,” Mitchell said. “My hope is that when a deal comes to us, it will be comprehensive enough for us to be comfortable with it. There is broad support for making a deal, but the devil is in the details.”
Councilman Ivory Lee Young said he’s concerned how the residents and businesses near the stadium in his district would fare. Young’s district includes Vine City and English Avenue, two of the city’s most depressed areas.
“Every commitment the mayor has made to me, he has followed through on,” Young said. “It is our responsibility to remain alert. But at this stage of the game, we are being heard.”
Reed told Young the stadium project will pump more resources into his district than any other project in the city’s history.
Reed added that the proposal “will include a minority business component and women business component that is on par with other major projects” in the city.
The precise location of a new downtown stadium still isn’t set.
The city and state prefer a site just south of the Dome because of its better access to MARTA and the Congress Center. The Falcons originally preferred a site about a half-mile to the north, which is larger, but have expressed openness to the south site. A study last year said building on the south site would be more expensive.
“I will tell you that in the recent five, six, seven, eight days a lot of activity has been around the costs associated with the north and the south,” Reed said.
Reed said the plan he presents will address council concerns.
“I’ll show you that no other city in America did a better (stadium) deal,” he said. “And I’ll show you we’re going to put thousands of people back to work.”