By Maria Saporta and Amy Wenk
The price of having the country’s most state-of-the-art football stadium is “rising up” by an estimated $200 million.
The Georgia World Congress Center Authority’s board of governors approved a resolution to raise the cost of the new Atlanta Falcons stadium from $1.2 billion to $1.4 billion.
It is the second big increase in the project’s cost. Originally pegged at $1 billion, the cost rose to $1.2 billion in October 2013. The majority of that increase was related to the stadium’s iconic design.
The extra $200 million will be covered by “StadCo” — an entity the Falcons set up for the project — not the state or city. The Falcons are seeking financing through Bank of America Corp. (NYSE: BAC).
Falcons Chief Administrative and Financial Officer Greg Beadles said the team has a “wide source of funding to support” the project.
The public investment in the new stadium construction remains limited to $200 million from the sale of bonds by Invest Atlanta that are backed by the City of Atlanta’s hotel-motel tax.
The remainder of the cost of the stadium is being funded by Arthur Blank, the Atlanta Falcons, the National Football League and other private sources.
Beadles said more detailed design plans allowed the team to more accurately budget the cost of the stadium.
“At the same time, construction costs across the board continue to increase as the economy improves and demand grows,” Beadles said in a statement. “Our internal and external stadium teams have thoroughly vetted every cost element of this stadium project, with an eye toward not only identifying areas for cost efficiency, but on also maintaining our two-fold vision of providing a great experience to the fans and guests who enter the building and being part of a public-private partnership that will benefit the city, region and state for years to come.”
The news of another cost hike comes six months after breaking ground on the stadium and as the Falcons struggle through a second lackluster season in a row. Though in first place in the awful NFC South division, the Falcons are 5-7 and rumors swirl about head coach Mike Smith’s future with the team.
Falcons owner Arthur Blank, in a brief interview at the Metro Atlanta Chamber annual meeting on Tuesday, said he based his decisions with long-term benefits in mind and with the goal of giving fans the ultimate stadium experience.
“We are committed to building the finest sports/entertainment facility in the United States, if not the world,” said Falcons owner Arthur Blank. “We are not going to say ‘no’ to good ideas. We have agreed to do a lot of things that have significant cost impacts to us.”
He added he understands the size of the cost in the short term, but believes it will be worth it for the long-term benefits.
“It’s a huge amount of money when you go from $1 billion to $1.2 billion to $1.4 billion,” he said. “It’s a lot of money… I have always made decisions for the long term. I make those investments long term.”
The NFL will have to approve the final budget for the project and that could happen in the next month, Beadles said.
New stadium budget summary:
- Sitework— $61,492,817
- Foundations/Structure— $386,781,070
- Exterior Skin— $79,687,086
- Interior Construction— $119,094,280
- Building System s — $281,203,674
- Construction Requirements— $49,242,543
- General Conditions/Fee/Contingency— $100,461,237
- Soft Costs/Contingency— $322,037,293
As of Dec. 2, 2014, about 9 percent of the construction is complete at the new stadium, said Wayne Wadsworth, principal in charge for the stadium’s general contractor, the Holder Hunt Russell Moody joint benture. About 400 workers are now on site. That number should peak at 2,000 in late 2015, he said.
“The progress is moving along at a very rapid pace and picking up everyday,” said Bill Darden, who is serving as the stadium project executive for the Falcons. “The project as a whole is going very well.”
The new stadium is set to open in 2017.
Amy Wenk is a staff writer for the Atlanta Business Chronicle.