The question was put to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell as he stood on the Falcons’ current field Sunday night.
Why should taxpayers help to foot the bill for a new home for Arthur Blank’s team?
“Well, I think there’s a recognition that they do need a new stadium,” Goodell said before the Falcons played the Cowboys at the Georgia Dome. “The question is, how do you do something that makes sense for the community and how do you combine that with what they want to do with the (World) Congress Center? And do it in a way that’s responsible and creates more activity. That’s what the discussion is on both sides.”
The Falcons are seeking partial public financing for a $1 billion retractable-roof stadium to be built in downtown Atlanta. The new stadium would replace the 20-year old Georgia Dome, which is operated by the Georgia World Congress Center Authority.
In 2010 state legislators extended the Fulton County’s hotel-motel tax, which is expected to contribute $300 million to the costs of a new stadium. But the bonding capacity for the GWCCA, which also would operate the new facility, is capped at $200 million.
Raising the cap to allow the GWCCA to issue bonds on the entire $300 million would require an act of the Legislature and the signature of Gov. Nathan Deal. Some lawmakers have said they are waiting to see the details of the final deal between the Falcons and the GWCCA.
The Falcons would cover the costs of the stadium beyond the $300 million. The GWCCA said it hopes to reach agreement with the Falcons by the end of the year.
A new stadium would likely mean significantly more revenue for the Falcons as compared to the Dome and also an increase in the value of the franchise.
“It’s important for the team to have a [new] stadium when you’re competing against other markets when a [new] stadium can generate more revenue,” Goodell said.
The NFL in the past has awarded the Super Bowl to cities with new stadiums for their teams. But Goodell, asked if Atlanta would improve its chances for a Super Bowl with a new facility, said only that it would allow the city to “compete against other markets” for the right.
Atlanta hosted Super Bowls in 1994 and 2000 but failed in subsequent bids after an ice storm disrupted the 2000 event.