BRADENTON, Fla. - The Georgia Supreme Court plans to tackle petitions appealing municipal bond deals for professional football and baseball stadiums during the next four months.
While a decision in the Atlanta Falcons quest for $278.3 million in bond financing toward the team's $1.2 billion retractable-roof stadium could be weeks away, the high court scheduled oral arguments for Nov. 3.
Opponents living near the project, which is under construction in downtown Atlanta, are appealing the issuance of the revenue bonds, which were validated by Fulton County Superior Court Judge Ural Glanville in May.
The 30-year bonds will provide $200 million for construction. The additional $78.3 million is for capitalized interest, reserves, and issuance costs. The remaining stadium costs will be paid through the National Football League's G-4 loan program, team debt, equity, and personal seat licenses.
The 71,000-seat stadium features a retractable roof design and an open air concourse. It will replace the nearby Georgia Dome where the team now plays.
The Falcons and city officials broke ground May 19 on the stadium, which is scheduled to open for the 2017 NFL season.
The Supreme Court could set a date in February for oral arguments in three appeals opposing the use of bonds to support the Atlanta Braves new $672 million baseball stadium in Cobb County, according to published reports.
If appellants ask the high court to hear oral arguments, the soonest that could happen is in February.
Cobb County Judge Robert Leonard validated the issuance of $397 million in bonds in July to partially finance the 41,500-seat Major League Baseball stadium.
In September, the Braves announced an agreement with Atlanta-based SunTrust Bank for naming rights, but did not disclose the cost of the 25-year agreement. The stadium will be called SunTrust Park.
If the Supreme Court rules in favor of validating the bonds, the debt will be issued by the Cobb-Marietta Coliseum and Exhibit Hall Authority through an interlocal agreement with Cobb County.
Officials have said the 30-year bonds likely will be issued as taxable securities because of the variety of payment sources, which includes $92 million in revenue from team rent, naming rights, parking, and marquee advertising, in addition to a cash payment of $280 million.
Cobb County also expects to secure the bonds from an existing hotel/motel tax, property taxes, a rental car tax, and other fees.
The Braves plan to move from Turner Field in downtown Atlanta to the suburban site at the northwest corner of Interstate 75 and I-285.
Adjacent to the ballpark, the Braves have purchased property to privately finance a multi-use development of retail, restaurants, residential, hotel and office space to increase the team's year-round profitability.