The job of selecting architects and contractors for the Atlanta Falcons' new $1 billion stadium is under way now that the city's economic development agency, Invest Atlanta, has approved the issuance of $200 million of bonds for the project.

Invest Atlanta's board approved the bond resolution last week by a vote of 8-to-1. The board also approved a tri-party development agreement between the city, the team, and the Georgia World Congress Center, the state agency that owns the Georgia Dome where the Falcons currently play. The Dome will be demolished after the new retractable-roof, multi-purpose stadium is constructed.

The bonds, expected to be issued next year, will be secured by 39.3% of a 7% hotel-motel tax. The City Council recently extended the expiration date of the tax to 2050 from 2020 in order to provide financing for the new stadium.

Hotel-motel tax proceeds not needed for debt service will be used for operations and maintenance of the stadium.

About $800 million for the cost of construction will come from the Atlanta Falcons, the NFL, and personal seat licenses.

As part of the overall deal with the City Council, a number of community improvements will benefit surrounding neighborhoods. Falcons' owner Arthur Blank has committed $15 million from a family foundation, Invest Atlanta will provide $15 million from a tax allocation district, and Mayor Kasim Reed has pledged to help raise another $15 million from the private sector.

The council also required the team to pay up to $70 million for infrastructure costs and up to $20 million if needed for land acquisition. The city has no responsibility for maintaining or insuring the project.

Controversy over public funding for the Falcons' new stadium and its impact on neighborhoods led to added funding requirements for the team and other assurances such as a commitment to remain in downtown Atlanta for 30 years.

Invest Atlanta is expected to issue 30-year bonds next year in a par amount of $226 million, which will include issuance costs and $15.5 million in funding for reserves should hotel-motel tax collections fall short of debt-service needs.

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