Arthur Blank reflects on cancer: ‘Live life to its fullest’

By Maria Saporta
As published in the Atlanta Business Chronicle on February 12, 2016

Arthur Blank is approaching cancer the same way he has approached his business, sports and philanthropic career — methodically, strategically and heart-felt.

Blank is the high-profile owner of the Atlanta Falcons, a team he bought after leaving The Home Depot Inc., which he co-founded with Bernie Marcus and others.

In a deeply personal Feb. 9 interview given exclusively to Atlanta Business Chronicle, Blank spoke about being diagnosed with cancer and its prognosis; advice he would give other men; and how it has helped him adjust his priorities.

new Falcons stadium

New Atlanta Falcons stadium costs rise up to $1.5 billion

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.

Chick-fil-A CEO draws attention to zip code 30314

Dan Cathy wants people to shift their focus a few blocks west of the new Falcon's stadium to an area of Atlanta that’s struggling. Credit Dan Raby / WABE

Dan Cathy wants people to shift their focus a few blocks west of the new Falcon’s stadium to an area of Atlanta that’s struggling.
Credit Dan Raby / WABE

All Things Considered Host, Amy Kiley, in a conversation with Maria Saporta & Dan Cathy >> Original Story 

The new Atlanta Falcons stadium has a lot of people keeping an eye on the intersection of Northside Drive and Martin Luther King Jr. Drive.  But, a local businessman and philanthropist wants people to shift their focus a few blocks west to an area of Atlanta that’s struggling.

Chick-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy says crossing Northside Drive in that spot is like walking into another world: from the wealth and flare of professional football … to the poverty and crime of ZIP code 30314.

He called for cooperation to help that area in a recent Atlanta Business Chroniclearticle by Maria Saporta. Cathy and Saporta expanded on the issue with WABE’s Amy Kiley.

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Stadium update: Opponents of city bonds say they are weighing options to appeal first ruling in city’s favor

Atlanta has won the first round of the legal fight over its authority to issue more than $278 million in bonds for the future Falcons stadium.

Fulton County Superior Court Judge Ural Glanville ruled last week in the city’s favor. Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed’s office issued a statement saying the mayor was “pleased” with the outcome.

However, the city cannot issue any bonds during the 30-day period during which the opponents can appeal the court ruling. Opponents said Sunday they are weighing their options and previously have said they would appeal an unfavorable ruling. They already have delayed a sale that was on a fast track in February.

Symbols old and new capture angst emerging around Falcons stadium

The Falcons stadium is the next “Peyton wall” of Atlanta, a lawyer said Monday, comparing the sports venue to an actual wall the city erected across Peyton Road in 1962 to separate black and white neighborhoods.

By another account, the stadium saga is Atlanta’s version of “Groundhog Day.” In the movie, actor Bill Murray relived the same depressing events day after day after day. Poor people are the protagonists in this comparison to real life.

Atlanta’s funding for Falcon stadium delayed at least seven weeks by judge

A seven-week delay in Atlanta’s schedule sell bonds to help pay for construction of the Falcons stadium was the immediate result of a court hearing Monday morning.

Bond validation petitions typically are open-and-shut matters. Lawyers for the government usually get a speedy ruling from a judge that allows the sale of bonds to proceed posthaste.

In the case of Atlanta’s bonds for the stadium, Fulton County Superior Court Judge Ural Granville set the next date for a bond validation hearing for April 10. In the meantime, opponents of the bond issuance can begin gathering at least some of the evidence they intend to use to try to prevent the city from issuing $278.3 million in bonds to help finance the stadium.

New Falcons Staduim

Atlanta willing to pay 8 percent interest on Falcons stadium bonds

Atlanta is willing to pay an interest rate of up to 8 percent for the $278.3 million in revenue bonds it intends sell to provide construction financing for the new Falcons stadium.

To put that rate in perspective, Atlanta’s airport is paying rates ranging from 2 percent to 6 percent on its $3.1 billion in outstanding bonds, according to the airport’s 2013 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report. The airport bonds are paid with proceeds of airport revenues, passenger fees and federal grants.

These terms and others are cited in the bond validation petition that Fulton County Superior Court Judge Ural Granville is scheduled to hear Feb. 17. Opponents who think the stadium deal could do more than the current plan to transform nearby neighborhoods are expected to contest the bond validation.

VIP parking at Falcons stadium to require big changes in MLK Drive

A planned VIP parking lot at the future Falcons stadium will require a virtual dead end of Martin Luther King Jr. Drive at the stadium, and will affect the road’s ability to become the grand boulevard envisioned by Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed.

[Scroll down the story to see a gallery of photos of the Martin Luther King Jr. Drive corridor.]

The first public discussion of this proposal is scheduled Tuesday morning during the Atlanta City Council’s Utilities Committee.

The Falcons contend fans will benefit from VIP parking and related traffic management plan that will enhance their game-day experience. Others disagree.

Atlanta City Council passes plan for Falcons stadium areas; deal releases $200 million from city for construction

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed prevailed Monday when the Atlanta City Council approved a community benefits deal that will release $200 million in city funds for the future Falcons stadium.

Reed wanted a deal done by year’s end, and the council approved the deal unanimously. But the issue may not be over: Some civic leaders threaten to file a lawsuit to overturn the benefits deal and block the funds.

Invest Atlanta expects to begin accepting applications for projects in January. In addition, the council is to appoint members to a committee it created Monday that’s intended to promote job creation in the stadium neighborhoods.

As if to underscore the extent of blight in stadium neighborhoods, the council approved a $59,126 contract to cover four years of back rent for a police precinct in Vine City.

Atlanta City Council to seek Braves advice on fixing Ted area, pass Falcons community benefits deal

Never let it be said that the Atlanta City Council doesn’t have a sense of hope and humor.

The council will ask the Atlanta Braves to serve on a task force to recommend ways to spiff up the Turner Field area. The Braves intend to leave the Ted for Cobb County in the the 2017 season.

In addition, the council expects to adopt Monday the community benefits deal regarding the future Falcons stadium, which has riled some civic leaders, and a slate of recommendations on how to bolster Atlanta’s central business district – where the office vacancy rate is among the region’s highest.

Falcons stadium funding clears hurdle; Atlanta City Council to cast final vote Dec. 2 on last provision

This story has been updated.

The Atlanta City Council is slated to vote Dec. 2 on the community benefits deal that must be approved before the city can provide $200 million in construction funding for the future Falcons stadium.

The council’s Community Development Committee approved an amended deal at 7:20 p.m., almost four hours after residents of stadium neighborhoods first gathered in a crowded council meeting room.

The outcome of the city’s $200 million in stadium funding remains uncertain. Opponents have said they will file a lawsuit to prevent the city from issuing the funds.

Community cut out of community benefits deal at Falcons stadium; Mayor Reed ready to engage

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed is on track to wrap up on Dec. 2 the loose ends of the city’s promise to provide $200 million to the Falcons for a new stadium.

For that to happen, a committee that’s worked on a community benefits plan since July was told Wednesday night that it will not get to recommend a plan to the Atlanta City Council. The political fallout has already begun: Atlanta City Council President Ceasar Mitchell says the process has lost credibility; civic leaders talked Wednesday of filing a lawsuit to halt the process of providing the money to the Falcons.

While this controversy was erupting at City Hall, Reed was at a community meeting near Buckhead talking about a number of initiatives for his second term – including the demolition of Turner Field, after the Braves depart in 2017, in order to create a 57-acre tract that will be, Reed said, “wildly attractive to investment.”