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Blank says Falcons don’t plan to leave downtown Atlanta

NFC Championship - San Francisco 49ers v Atlanta Falcons Getty Images

Most teams play the stadium leverage game by threatening (subtly or otherwise) to move to a new city.  The Falcons have suggested that, if they don’t get public funding for a new retractable roof stadium in downtown Atlanta, they’ll (drum roll) pay for their own open-air venue in the suburbs.

Team president Rich McKay made the team’s plans clear earlier this week in a meeting with Atlanta City Council.  Specifically, McKay said that the team won’t extend its lease at the Georgia Dome, which expires in 2017, and he strongly suggested that without public funding for a stadium with a sliding lid in the downtown area, the team will explore options elsewhere in the metropolitan area.

Now, owner Arthur Blank is backing away from that position, with a Saturday afternoon statement issued by the team.

“We have a very good partnership with the Georgia World Congress Center, and we want that to continue into the future,” Blank said.  “As a business, it is our responsibility to consider all of our options, but in this case, we are not making any alternate plans at this time.

“We are focusing all of our time and resources on finalizing an agreement for the new stadium in downtown Atlanta.  We appreciate Mayor Reed’s strong support in helping us stay downtown, which is the right place for us to be.”

The statement likely arises from the reality that the threat of a move to the suburbs won’t get fans too worked up about the situation, especially if the Falcons plan to private fund the open-air stadium that would be built somewhere other than downtown Atlanta.  So with the citizens and politicians possibly willing to call the team’s bluff, the team apparently has decided to make it clear that there’s no bluff to call.

The reality is that, if the Falcons truly want to shake public money from the peach trees, they’ll need a bigger bluff.

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10 Responses to “Blank says Falcons don’t plan to leave downtown Atlanta”
  1. Gordon says: Feb 16, 2013 12:50 PM

    Why not just renovate the current joint? It’s not like the building is ancient. Wouldn’t that cost less?

    Forget the retractable roof. That’s a gimmick & hardly used by teams. It’s like buying a car in Chicago & paying extra for a moonroof…you can almost never use it.

  2. jeannathomas says: Feb 16, 2013 1:44 PM

    Goodell wants a retractable roof for an open-air Super Bowl, and a retractable roof is important for the SEC Championship and things like that–but as a season ticket holder, I’m not crazy about the new stadium at all. I also don’t think the idea of a move to the suburbs is a bluff. I think the Falcons would prefer to be downtown, and it would be best, but if the Council doesn’t get on board they’ll end up somewhere north of the city, closer to their training facility in Flowery Branch.

  3. daknight93 says: Feb 16, 2013 1:46 PM

    Arthur Blank will build his 1 billion dollar stadium in the suburbs of Atlanta…Jerry Jones left Dallas to build his billion dollar stadium in Arlington, TX..I believe Blank will do same thing as Jerrah

  4. seastalls says: Feb 16, 2013 1:59 PM

    No alternate plans at this time……..Cue LA and San Antonio talk to spread fear in Atlanta to get a better offer to stay.

  5. soobster says: Feb 16, 2013 2:21 PM

    The issue isn’t the stadium itself but more of who owns it. Right now an upgrade to the Dome does nothing for the Falcons bottom line because they share profits with the Georgia World Congress Center because they own the Dome. The Falcons want a new stadium that they will own and control so that they can reap the profit windfall.

  6. nfloracle says: Feb 16, 2013 3:53 PM

    Blank needs to call Jerry Richardson. The Big Cat will show him how to weasel a couple hundred million in food and beverage taxes to get whatever he wants while keeping his billions in bonds and securities knocking down two or three percent in interest every year. Billionaires, you gotta love ‘em.

  7. eatitfanboy says: Feb 16, 2013 5:52 PM

    I don’t understand the whole retractable roof thing for the Super Bowl.

    The fact is that every single time the game has been held in a retractable roof stadium, the roof has been closed, including Phoenix in beautiful weather.

    Retractable roofs are expensive and impractical. Open air stadiums are impractical for downtown stadiums attached to convention centers because it limits their use.

    It’s OK to admit that the most practical solution for a downtown stadium is a dome. Stop pretending that your some kind of purist that needs football to be outdoors to be real.

    Did you watch the Super Bowl this year?

  8. tdk24 says: Feb 16, 2013 6:28 PM

    So a 20 year old stadium is considered old? Um, tell me again when the Oakland Alameda County Colosseum was built again? You don’t need a new stadium to get to the superbowl, the Raiders did it 10 years ago playing in that $hit box of a stadium.

  9. atlfalcons2008 says: Feb 16, 2013 8:11 PM

    I have read up on the stadium quite a bit. There is a hotel tax in place that would cover the public portion of a new deal. As I live in town, this is fine by me. Charge the out of towners for our new place. Arthur still foots most of the bill. This same tax has been going towards paying off the Georgia Dome.

    Apparently the team has the money to build what they want but in order to assist the city and state bring in other big events like the Super Bowl, Final Four, etc., a roof is needed. It is not feasible to keep the Dome open for these events alone and the commish isn’t pushing a Super Bowl back to us without a new place.

    I’m going to bet this deal happens. Only asking for 20% public financing not the full slate that many articles neglect.

  10. yaboig says: Feb 16, 2013 8:27 PM

    I figured the Falcons would back down on that move to the suburbs threat. Falcon fans not traveling to the burbs to see the Falcons play and the burbs here in Atlanta is not going to support the team like that.

    They move out to the burbs and the Georgia World Congress Center is going to upgrade the Dome and keep the SEC Championship, NCAA tournament and other events in downtown Atlanta. The only thing Blank would get is the superbowl and his stadium wouldnt be in regular superbowl rotation like the Superdome and Cowboy stadium.

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