By Maria Saporta
Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed and majority Atlanta Hawks owner Tony Ressler were all smiles Tuesday when they announced that they had reached a $192.5 million deal to revamp Philips Arena.
The 30-year agreement would keep the “Hawks in downtown Atlanta for decades to come,” Reed said at the press conference in his Ceremonial Office at City Hall.
The $192.5 million deal includes $142.5 million from the City of Atlanta, but Reed gave assurances that no new taxes would be going towards the renovation of the arena.
Most of the city’s contribution will come from the extension of the car rental tax, which Reed estimated will total $110 million. Then the city will allocate $12.5 million from the sale of Turner Field to dramatic renovation of Philips Arena. The remaining $20 million will come from the city selling off “smaller parcels that are excess municipal inventory,” Reed said.
The Atlanta Hawks and Ressler will be contributing $50 million to the project.
“We will bring down the four-stacked (levels of) suites,” Reed said, describing one of the unusual features of Philips Arena where all the luxury suites are on one side of the arena. “We are actually going to have suites that wrap the bowl of Philips Arena.”
Ressler said his goal was to continue “a winning tradition for the next 30 years.” Construction work will begin after the Hawks season ends in the spring of 2017, and then it will be put on hold so the Hawks can play for the 2017-2018 season. When that season is over, construction on the arena will resume.
“We will stay planning at the arena while we’re doing the renovation,” Ressler said.
Steve Koonin, president of the Atlanta Hawks who joked that the Hawks season would end after the NBA finals, said the construction would be completed in time for the 50th season of the Hawks moving to Atlanta.
Koonin said his aspiration would be for the “reimagined arena” to add new life to the area – in a similar way that the Atlanta BeltLine has to the central city. “It’s connectivity, inclusiveness and it’s about fun,” Koonin said. adding that his goal would be for everybody to feel welcome. “We will always have great ticket prices.”