BRADENTON, Fla. — It will cost an estimated $700 million to build the Atlanta Falcons the open-air stadium the National Football League team has sought for several years.
The cost estimate was part of a feasibility study released Tuesday in a continuing strategy by the Georgia World Congress Center Authority to provide the team with a stadium up to NFL standards.
The Falcons currently play on artificial turf in the covered Georgia Dome in downtown Atlanta, which the authority owns and built with bond financing.
The Dome opened in 1992 and is on a 200-acre campus that includes the country's fourth-largest convention center and Centennial Olympic Park.
The feasibility study by Populous was presented to the authority's board on Tuesday at a meeting where board members and Falcons' representatives agreed to work on a memorandum of understanding to further the project, according to authority spokesman Mark Geiger.
The study suggests that the stadium can be built on a 28-acre parcel north of the Dome that is owned by the agency. The site currently is used for parking and staging large vehicles.
"The next step is to formalize business terms," Geiger said. "We've just received the feasibility study and everything is subject to negotiation."
Negotiations would include how much the team contributes to the project as well as developing a plan of finance.
Geiger said there is a financing mechanism in place — a hotel-motel tax that was recently extended until 2050. A portion of the tax was used by the authority to construct the bond-financed Dome. Since the stadium is being built on authority property, it is likely that the agency will issue the debt.
The study also examined the costs to operate and maintain the Dome over the next 20 years. It concluded that the facility — which the authority plans to continue using for various events — would need between $35 million and $75 million in improvements to remain competitive for collegiate competitions, and championship and bowl games.
"This report's analysis is going to establish a platform for the authority and the Falcons to discuss the best path for developing [a stadium] that both parties will be happy with," Geiger said.
The team has said that it wants to be in the new stadium by the 2017 season.
The new venue would seat 65,000, with the capability of expanding to 75,000 seats. It would have 7,500 club seats on the sideline and 111 suites of various sizes.
The authority sold $200 million of revenue bonds in 1990 to build the Dome. The bonds were refunded in 2000 and $130.5 million is outstanding with maturities through 2020. The refunding bonds were insured by MBIA Insurance Corp.
The Georgia Dome, one of the largest cable-supported facilities in the country, was built as a multi-purpose venue with 70,600 seats. It has been upgraded several times over the years.