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Key Issue: Strengthening The City Vs. Falcons' Tailgating

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In a Q&A session with the AJC, Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank said last week his team's politically approved, $1 billion new stadium should be another pearl for downtown, joining more touristy "pearls" like the Georgia Aquarium and under-construction College Football Hall of Fame and National Center for Civil and Human Rights. Asked what the stadium will look like, Blank was up in arms, emphasizing that his dream coliseum will be positioned to capitalize on skyline views (that is, facing northeast, if built south of the Georgia Dome, as he and others prefer). The Saporta Report argues this week the stadium should be less a fancy playing field girded by seas of parking lots and more the nucleus for surrounding communities. Writes Maria Saporta: "We will need to get the most creative minds among architects and urban designers who can figure out unique ways to satisfy parking and game-day tailgating experiences for Falcons fans without depressing the surrounding communities for the remaining 355 days of the year." An admirable goal, but is it too idyllic?

Saporta taps a wide range of influential sources on the issue, offering that finding a happy medium that suits both the city and team's needs could be impossible. Mayor Kasim Reed and Falcons President Rich McKay spoke to the benefits of developing the south site, including its proximity to two MARTA stations, which could help diminish the need for parking. McKay said stadium parking lots will not be made of asphalt, and that team leaders are resolute in their thinking Northside Drive will not become simply a series of parking lots, the website notes.

McKay previously said he could envision "green" surface parking lots that would be transformed into parks on non-game days. But that was back when the north site was favored by officials, Saporta notes. An optimistic Brian McGowan, president and CEO of Invest Atlanta, said the new stadium presents a better opportunity to "capture the economic spillover of events that are held in the stadium versus a suburban stadium where people literally drive there and back."

What's your ideal vision for the $1 billion stadium, should the necessary land deals be made and it rises from the south site?

· We've got five years to create a thriving area around new Falcons stadium [Saporta Report]
· Blank on stadium: With politics done, 'the fun starts' [AJC]