After speaking with fans, business and political leaders, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell is optimistic that the Falcons will get a new retractable roof stadium to replace the Georgia Dome.
“There is a recognition that it’s the right thing to do and they are going through a very healthy process to find a solution that is going to work for all parties,” Goodell said after speaking to the Rotary Club of Atlanta on Monday.
He met with Gov. Nathan Deal and Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed on Monday morning to discuss the stadium issue.
The NFL and the Falcons are interested in a public-private partnership that would help the Falcons generate additional revenues through a new stadium.
Goodell said new stadiums built for the Cowboys and the New York Jets and Giants are state of the art and have essentially made the 20-year old Georgia Dome obsolete.
He also acknowledged that personal seat licenses have been a great way for teams to raise part of the revenue needed to fund the new stadiums. He did note that some stadiums have sections of seats that are not subject to a seat license.
“When you are going to approach a complex project like this, there is always a lot about what is the right thing and the wrong thing,” Goodell said. “What should be the participation level in the public-private partnership? Where to build it? What to build?”
Goodell’s optimism is based on the meetings he had with several of the involved parties, including Deal and Reed.
“I think their process over a long period of time has been very healthy,” Goodell said. “There is a good opportunity and the NFL wants to be a part of creating something very special. We want to be a part of this community for a long time. We hope that wherever they put the stadium, they make it a bigger and better place.”
Goodell has been the commissioner of the NFL since 2006. Under his administration the league has negotiated a 10-year labor agreement with the players, recently settled an eight-year agreement with the officials and has negotiated multi-billion dollar television deals with their media partners.
“We now are in a better position to be able to provide league-wide funding to help Arthur Blank’s private contribution,” Goodell said. “That will be coming from 31 other owners, which is unique to football.”
Blank introduced Goodell at the luncheon.
“This commissioner spends time with the fans, talking to them, listening to them and responding to them and being honest with them about the state of the game,” Blank said. “The other thing that I’ll say about this commissioner is that it’s a very difficult job. I appreciate his ability to lead and his ability to listen before he makes decisions.”
Blank was understandably giddy about the 8-0 Falcons, the league’s lone remaining undefeated team.
“People are always asking me ‘how does it feel to be undefeated?’,” Blank said. “If you’re 8-0 and you can’t be happy, you have a real serious problem. I’m very, very happy.”
Before meeting with Deal and Reed, Goodell had breakfast with several retired NFL players.
“It’s been a very successful last 24 hours,” Goodell said. “I’ve been able to get a very good understanding of what’s going on here in Atlanta. Obviously, when you’re 8-0, that helps everyone’s attitude.”
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