BRADENTON, Fla. — The Georgia Supreme Court affirmed the validation of $200 million in municipal bonds for the Atlanta Falcons' new stadium on Monday.
The high court's ruling upholds the Atlanta hotel-motel tax that will secure the bonds.
Neighbors opposing the new football stadium had challenged the public financing for the $1.4 billion eight-sided facility, which is under construction in downtown next to the 23-year-old Georgia Dome where the Falcons currently play.
"The city is pleased that the Supreme Court of Georgia has affirmed our position regarding the hotel-motel tax revenue bonds," said Atlanta chief financial officer Jim Beard. "We look forward to going to market with the transaction in the second quarter of 2015 with Citi leading the transaction."
Other members of the syndicate selling the bonds will be selected soon, he said.
Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed also hailed Monday's ruling, and said that the hotel-motel tax revenue stream is the sole public funding source for the stadium's construction, and any risk associated with repayment is carried by the bondholders.
"The Atlanta stadium financing terms are more favorable to the public than any other NFL stadium constructed in the last 10 years," Reed said, adding that the public contribution is capped at $200 million.
He also noted that more than 85% of the tax is paid by visitors and tourists.
Bond and litigation attorney Douglass Selby with Hunton & Williams LLP also said he was pleased with the court ruling.
Selby said the court's decision confirms that the actions of the city, Invest Atlanta, and the Georgia World Congress Center Authority were "lawful and in full compliance with state law."
The ruling affirms the May 2014 decision of the Fulton County Superior Court's validation of the revenue bonds to be issued by Invest Atlanta, the city's economic development authority, he said.
The new stadium is the National Football League's second-costliest venture. The state-of-the art retractable-roof stadium will serve the Falcons and a Major League Soccer expansion team.
In addition to the $200 million in bond proceeds, the stadium's remaining cost will come from the Falcons, personal seat license sales, and $200 million from the NFL G-4 loan program.
The new facility will be owned by the Georgia World Congress Center authority, and includes an agreement with the Falcons that the team will remain in downtown Atlanta for the next 30 years.
"We are pleased with the Supreme Court opinion released today upholding the validation of the hotel-motel tax revenue bonds to be issued by Invest Atlanta as partial financing of the new Atlanta stadium," the Falcons said in a statement. "We appreciate the support and diligence of our partners at the city, Invest Atlanta and the Georgia World Congress Center Authority in seeing this through, and we look forward to continuing to work with them as we complete the construction of a facility that will benefit the city and state for many years to come."
Construction began last year. The stadium is expected to open in March 2017 for the soccer team's first season. The 71,000-seat facility spans 14.5-acres under roof, compared with the 71,250-seat, 8.6-acre Georgia Dome, which will be razed after the new stadium opens.
Seating in the new stadium can be expanded to 75,000. It will have 7,500 club seats, 190 suites, 7,000 concessions, and seven restaurants.
The Georgia Supreme Court has yet to rule on a separate legal challenge on public financing for the Atlanta Braves' new stadium.
The Braves plan to move from downtown Atlanta to nearby Cobb County, where officials want to issue $397 million in bonds to partially finance the $622 million, 41,500-seat Major League Baseball stadium.
Several residents objecting to the ballpark plan filed an appeal with the high court, which heard oral arguments in that case last month.