The Atlanta Falcons' mustachioed messiah is making no bones about it: When it comes to building the team's roughly $1 billion new roost, he wants the greatest architects in the world. Team owner Arthur Blank revealed that he's aggressively seeking the crème de la crème of stadium designers and builders on Monday, when his decade-long vision passed the first of many hurdles before it comes to fruition. What's more, team president Rich McKay told the Saporta Report an architect could be selected within the next 60 days. A request for qualifications was beamed out hours after the Georgia World Congress Center Authority approved the framework for a retractable-roof stadium deal, McKay said. Not specified: Whether the new stadium, if approved and funded, will rise from the Gulch area, or on a GWCC site north of the 20-year-old Dome.
But first, there's the trivial matter of legality: Tim Lowe, chairman of the GWCCA board, told the AJC that both the city of Atlanta and Fulton County Commission have to vote to approve use of the hotel-motel tax for the project. Another sizable hurdle comes in the spring, when the GWCCA will make its case to state legislators that its bonding capacity should be increased by $100 million for the project.
Blank, who bought the Falcons in 2001 for about $545 million, poured a $52 million renovation (with $16 million from the GWCCA) into the Georgia Dome a few years ago.
Frank Poe, GWCCA executive director, has asserted that public-private financing is a prerequisite for building NFL stadiums. Poe also said the 7 percent tax on hotel-staying visitors to the ATL could not be used to fund, say, roads and schools. The latter point seems to be the chief complaint of stadium-deal opponents.
· Board approves terms for Atlanta stadium deal [AJC]
· Arthur Blank will seek 'best architects in the world' for new stadium design [Saporta Report]
· Why Congress Center Chief Supports New Falcons Nest [Curbed Atlanta]