A Falcons Face Lift

Professional football stadiums are born with expiration dates, and it seems that the Georgia Dome is nearing its own. However, it isn’t because the foundation is crumbling or infrastructure is getting too old. Like an iPhone, there are just newer models of stadium available. New technology, such as wireless internet capability and other luxuries are raising the bar on what passes for a quality football experience around the country. But these improvements come at a price.

The Georgia Dome, home of the Atlanta Falcons, is 20 years old. The bond which was taken out to build the stadium hasn’t been paid off and won’t be until 2018, which is still two years early. The Falcons would like to open the new stadium for the 2017 season, a year before the Georgia Dome’s bond is paid off. There are two sites under consideration for the project, one just north of the current Georgia Dome location and one south of it. The project would be a joint venture by the Falcons and the Georgia World Congress Center Authority. After the completion of the project, the current Georgia Dome would be demolished.

The new Falcons stadium will have a retractable roof and is projected to cost between $950 million and $1.2 billion. Of this, $300 million could be paid for by public funding. Much of the public share will be paid through a hotel-motel tax that is slated to fund construction of a new Falcons stadium through current law. Most of the $277 million projected to be generated by the tax would come from tourists staying in the city. However, an Atlanta Journal-Constitution poll found that 67% of respondents opposed using hotel-motel tax money for a new stadium.

The only NFL stadium to be built without any public funds since 1987 is MetLife Stadium in the Meadowlands, where the Giants and Jets play. The $1.7 billion stadium was built entirely with private funds, but it is also the only stadium in the nation to host two football franchises, which split the cost 50/50. The only other completely privately funded stadium currently operating in the NFL is Sun Life Stadium, home of the Miami Dolphins, which opened in 1987. Until recently, this stadium was also home to the Florida Marlins, who helped shoulder the costs.

The new Dallas Cowboy’s stadium was publicly funded for 30% of the $1.2 billion price tag, and opened in 2009. Three stadiums, Raymond James Stadium of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Lambeau Field of the Green Bay Packers, and Candlestick Park of the San Francisco 49ers, were all constructed entirely with public funds.

Many of the older stadiums around the league have experienced multi-million dollar upgrades instead of building a whole new stadium, the most recent of which was the 2003 renovations to Soldier and Lambeau Fields, which cost $587 and $295.2 million respectively. Both renovation projects were partially paid for with public funds.

Additional Resources

WSBTV New Dome Deal Would Keep Falcons in Atlanta for 30 Years: http://www.wsbtv.com/news/news/local/new-dome-deal-would-keep-falcons-atlanta-30-years/nSGq4/

WSBTV City Councilman Wants Funds for Possible New Falcons Stadium Tied to Education: http://www.wsbtv.com/news/news/local/city-councilman-wants-funds-possible-new-falcons-s/nSDTm/

11 Alive Atlanta Falcons, GWCC Working on New Deal for Retractable Roof Stadium to Replace Georgia Dome: http://www.11alive.com/news/article/239806/3/Open-air-stadium-plans-scrapped-new-deal-in-the-works

Atlanta Journal-Constitution Work Around New Falcons Stadium Could Boost Cost to $1.2 Billion: http://www.ajc.com/news/news/reed-work-around-new-falcons-stadium-could-boost-c/nR7P8/

Atlanta Journal-Constitution Stadium Deal Could Be Done By End of Year: http://www.ajc.com/news/business/stadium-deal-could-be-done-by-end-of-year/nRMRC/

Atlanta Business Chronicle ‘South Site’ Gaines Favor for New Falcons Stadium: http://www.bizjournals.com/atlanta/print-edition/2012/08/24/south-site-gains-favor-for-new.html?s=print

Fox Atlanta Dome Tailgaters React to New Football Stadium Proposal: http://www.myfoxatlanta.com/story/19430787/dome-visitors-react-to-new-football-stadium-proposal?clienttype=printable

Yahoo Sports Falcons Get Serious about New Stadium, Hosting Super Bowl: http://sports.yahoo.com/news/falcons-serious-stadium-hosting-super-025008431–nfl.html

NFL Stadiums Go from Boom to Swoon in Span of a Decade: http://www.nfl.com/news/story/09000d5d82a5c85c/article/nfl-stadiums-go-from-boom-to-swoon-in-span-of-a-decade

CBS Atlanta Critics Question Wisdom of Using Tax Money for New Falcons Stadium: http://www.cbsatlanta.com/story/19567053/critics-question-wisdom-of-using-tax-money-for-new-falcon-stadium

The New York Times NFL Stadium Funding: http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2010/09/08/sports/20100908-stadium-sidebar.html

NFL Stadium Funding Information: http://cbsminnesota.files.wordpress.com/2011/12/nfl-funding-summary-12-2-11.pdf

Sun Life Stadium: http://www.sunlifestadium.com/content/history.aspx

Bank of America Stadium: http://www.sunlifestadium.com/content/history.aspx

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