New Falcons Football Stadium Plans Approved by Atlanta Authority

The financial framework for a $1 billion, retractable-roof stadium for the Atlanta Falcons was approved by the Georgia World Congress Center Authority.

The agency’s board approved a 24-page, non-binding term sheet for the stadium, which the National Football League team and authority have estimated would open for the 2017 season. The terms will serve as the basis for a future binding agreement between the two sides.

The stadium would be owned by the authority, a state agency, and operated by the Falcons under a 30-year agreement, under the approved plan. The team would have an option to renew the lease for an additional 15 years, the authority said in a press release.

Construction and the demolition of the existing Georgia Dome would be partially paid for with about $300 million generated by an existing hotel-motel tax in Atlanta and Fulton County. Additional funding would be the responsibility of the Falcons and owner Arthur Blank, who has said he plans to sell personal seat licenses to cover a portion of the costs.

The team will pay about $2.5 million in annual rent to the authority, the Atlanta Journal Constitution reported. The Authority said the rent hadn’t yet been determined.

The team and authority will now hire a lead architectural and design firms for the stadium, the authority said.

Blank, co-founder of Home Depot Inc., bought the Falcons for $545 million in February 2002 and has said the team needs a new stadium to attract big events, such as the NFL’s Super Bowl. The 20-year-old Georgia Dome hosts the Southeastern Conference college football championship game each year and will be the site of the 2013 college basketball Final Four tournament.

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