While the economy might be starting to show some signs of life, it’s still not a particularly good time to embark on any ambitious projects that might be considered unnecessary. Like, oh, I don’t know, a new stadium for the Atlanta Falcons. Arthur Blank respectfully disagrees.
Despite having a current stadium that’s only 17 years old, and toting a fanbase that jumps ship faster than Somali pirates when the team isn’t playing well, Blank thinks that it’s a good idea to build a new dome. Of course, the only reason is so that he can own most or all of the stadium his team plays in. The Georgia Dome is owned and operated by the state.
The whole thing becomes much more angering when you see what one of the sites being considered for development is.
The ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION says that one of five sites outside of downtown being considered is a closed General Motors plant. Now, I know that something has to go there eventually, but maybe it’s not the best PR move for a billionaire to be talking about building a football stadium right on a symbol of how things have gone wrong for blue-collar America in the last few years.
The AJC says that Blank is looking for a way to increase team revenues by having a bigger financial interest in the stadium:
The Falcons in the lower fourth of the National Football League in revenue. Blank wants a better a better lease and more management control from the Authority or a new stadium where they control all or most, the management.
The lease expires when the bonds sold to build the Dome are paid, which could be as early as 2016 or as late as 2020. It takes roughly seven years - from site development to construction - to complete an NFL stadium.
There’s nothing in the article talking about public money, but if Blank is in discussions with the Georgia World Congress Center Authority, which is owned by the state, you can bet that public funds will be a part of the deal. It would be one thing if they were still playing in a dilapidated facility, but are Atlantans really going to go for another new stadium just so Blank can make more money?