New Atlanta Falcons stadium costs rise up to $1.5 billion

By Maria Saporta

Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank does not know how to say “No,” and that is costing him another $100 million.

During a panel discussion at the Rotary Club of Atlanta Monday on the rejuvenation of the westside neighborhoods, Blank let it slip out that we view the “$1.5 billion stadium” as an incredible investment.

new Falcons stadium

New Atlanta Falcons stadium

Up until now, the latest estimate of what it would cost to build the new retractable roof stadium – which is currently under construction – was $1.4 billion. The initial cost estimates were $950 million, and then they climbed to $1.2 billion when the designs for the dramatic stadium were unveiled.

After the panel discussion, Blank confirmed that the price-tag on the stadium had gone up by $100 million.

“We have an owner who has a great deal of difficulty saying no,” Blank said, referring to himself. “But we are at a point where we have developed and put in place all the great ideas that we can.”

new Falcons stadium

New Atlanta Falcons stadium

In other words, this is where the buck will stop.

Kim Shreckengost, executive vice president for Blank’s business interests, said that most of the increased amount can be attributed to the financing costs of the stadium.

According to the agreement with the Georgia World Congress Center Authority, $200 million of the stadium financing are to be covered by the City of Atlanta’s hotel-motel taxes.

Any other costs above and beyond those $200 million are legally obligated to be covered by Blank, the Atlanta Falcons, the National Football League and private financing.

In other words, the taxpayer is not liable or on the hook for the increased costs of the new stadium.

The new Atlanta Falcons stadium, which will also house Atlanta’s new Major League Soccer franchise (similarly owned by Arthur Blank) is scheduled to open in 2017. The soccer team is supposed to begin playing in the facility in March – less than two years from now.

Once the new stadium is up and running, the Georgia Dome will be torn down.

Blank said his folks are working with the GWCC to find ways to make the entire campus more engaging with the westside communities.

Maria Saporta, Editor, is a longtime Atlanta business, civic and urban affairs journalist with a deep knowledge of our city, our region and state.  Since 2008, she has written a weekly column and news stories for the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Prior to that, she spent 27 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, becoming its business columnist in 1991. Maria received her Master’s degree in urban studies from Georgia State and her Bachelor’s degree in journalism from Boston University. Maria was born in Atlanta to European parents and has two young adult children.

14 replies
  1. Horacio Romero says:

    How about working with the neighborhoods, too? Castleberry Hill has many fundable projects. There is little stopping the Blank organization from investing in the neighborhood in which the stadium partially sits.Report

    Reply
  2. rdurkis says:

    After 15 years as a season TX holder, the cost of staying in the new stadium is so expensive that I have to bail out. Mr. Blank can join the ranks of other greed mongers. I’ll watch on TV in my recliner and skip the already outrageously priced concession stand prices too.Report

    Reply
  3. Question Man says:

    MS: Hasn’t it been explained repeatedly that the cost to the taxpayers for the stadium is far more than $200 million, probably in the $600-$700 million range? Why are you prolonging this confusion and vast understatement of the public’s financial commitments?Report

    Reply
  4. Burroughston Broch says:

    DebAz Question Man  I assume the $350million does not include what will be spent out of the $250million infrastructure bonds, politically portrayed as infrastructure replacement.Report

    Reply
  5. Burroughston Broch says:

    DebAz Burroughston Broch Question Man  A lot has happened in the last 14 months and Hizzoner has $250million more to spend now on whatever he wants. A portion of it will be spent on the stadium and surrounds.Report

    Reply
  6. DebAz says:

    Burroughston Broch I doubt that and no one has even hinted that would happen. Now, some of the projects, such as the proposed changes to MLK Drive MAY tangentially impact the stadium, but none of the 250 will go directly towards the stadium. And why would he? Kasim is a politician first and foremost and he gets no benefit and plenty of crap if any of the infrastructure bond goes directly to the stadium.Report

    Reply
  7. Guest says:

    Burroughston Broch DebAz Question Man 
    The total amount of Hotel/Motel tax receipts going into Blank’s pocket is expected to approach $1 billion over 30 years according to a study prepared for the GWCCA.  Every penny in excess of what is needed to fund principal and interest on the bonds goes into an account to offset Blank’s obligation for long-term operation and maintenance costs of the stadium after construction.  So please, use the $1 billion number, not $200 million.  If you want to discount the $1 billion back to present value at today’s miniscule rates, so be it – you are still well north of $600 million in present dollars.Report

    Reply
  8. Guest says:

    Horacio Romero 
    Actually, the Blank Foundation is walking a very fine line with the IRS by “investing” any money in the neighborhoods close to the stadium under the private family foundation “self-dealing” rules.  You cannot use Foundation assets to promote a separate, for-profit activity of the Foundation’s creator. That clearly is what Blank is doing however – using $15 million of Foundation assets to buy off Vine City and English Avenue in connection with the for-profit Atlanta Falcons new stadium project.Report

    Reply
  9. Burroughston Broch says:

    DebAz Burroughston Broch  Do you also believe in the Tooth Fairy? Hizzoner makes future benefits for himself for every dollar he channels to the stadium. He anticipates Blank will honor these quid pro quos after he is out of office.Report

    Reply

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