BRADENTON, Fla. — The Georgia World Congress Center Authority Board of Governors approved a term sheet Monday that will serve as the basis for a formal agreement with the Atlanta Falcons to build a nearly $1 billion stadium.
The GWCCA and the National Football League’s Falcons will now negotiate a memorandum of understanding for the construction of a new retractable-roof, multi-purpose stadium near the existing Georgia Dome in Atlanta where the Falcons play now. The 20-year-old Georgia Dome eventually will be razed.
“We are pleased to have reached an agreement on business terms that will form the basis of a definitive agreement with the Atlanta Falcons on the development of a new stadium,” said Frank Poe, executive director of the GWCCA. “In addition, we are initiating a selection process for an architect and design team to run concurrent with the development of the MOU.”
The GWCCA expects to contribute about $300 million in bond financing to the project, though that is contingent on winning an increase in bonding capacity from the state Legislature to $300 million from the current $200 million. The bonds would be secured by hotel and motel tax collections.
The Falcons and the NFL would pay the balance of the project’s costs.
By next Monday, the parties are expected to agree on wording for a request for qualifications to seek architectural services. The winning firm will design a nearly two million-square-foot facility with permanent seating capacity for up to 72,000 for NFL games, including luxury suites and premium seating. The design will allow for seating to be expanded to 80,000, and include parking.
The goal is to have the new stadium open for the 2017 NFL season.
“We are pleased with today’s vote by the board, and we appreciate their diligence in guiding the process that got us to this day,” Atlanta Falcons owner and chairman Arthur Blank said in a statement. “The Falcons and the authority have worked hard and long in putting together terms that will benefit both sides, as well as the city and state. We look forward to continuing to work as partners in reaching a final agreement.”
The Falcons currently play home games on artificial turf in the enclosed Georgia Dome in downtown Atlanta, which was financed by the GWCCA.
The team has wanted to play outside the Dome for years. An open-air stadium was initially considered, but that was later revised to incorporate a more expensive retractable roof.