Atlanta’s new workforce law among possible community agreements to be addressed by city, Falcons

A central question facing the Atlanta City Council is how to harness the city’s influence in the proposed deal to help pay for the planned Falcons stadium.

Just this month, the city enacted a new law that seems to require the stadium’s builders to hire a certain proportion of disadvantaged and underemployed residents. Falcons President Rich McKay said the team is committed to such social objectives – and that they will be addressed.

In addition, some on the council want the new stadium to address blight in nearby neighborhoods, specifically along Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. However, Councilmember Michael Julian Bond noted that the project can’t be a panacea for, “every social ill under the sun.”

Atlanta City Council set to grill stadium advocates on why city should help finance it by extending hotel tax

Advocates of a new football stadium are to get a chance Wednesday to try to convince members of the Atlanta City Council that the city should help build a new facility.

The work session, set for 11:30 a.m., will be the first real opportunity for councilmembers to engage the advocates. Councilmembers already have raised questions about how neighborhoods around the stadium could benefit from its construction and operation.

Without the council’s support, Atlanta’s development authority likely won’t be able to borrow enough money to help build the stadium. No funding source other than the city’s hotel/motel tax has been publicly identified to fill the gap between what the NFL and Falcons are willing to pay, and the actual cost of construction.

Kasim Reed: Building new stadium is right decision at right time for Atlanta

By Maria Saporta

At his fourth annual State of the City Business Breakfast, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed said building a new $1 billion stadium for the Atlanta Falcons is today’s defining decision for the city.

Reed introduced his challenge to city leaders by providing a list of defining decisions for Atlanta over the decades.

Mayor William Hartsfield made the right decision at the right time when he gave a favorable lease to Delta Air Lines.

New stadium deal in the works — bonding capacity could shift from state to the City of Atlanta

By Maria Saporta

A revised deal for a new stadium currently is being negotiated whereby the Georgia Legislature would not have to vote on increasing the bonding capacity of Georgia World Congress Center to $300 million.

Currently negotiations are underway at the Governor’s mansion between Gov. Nathan Deal, the Atlanta Falcons and the City of Atlanta where the bonding capacity would shift from the state to the city.

No matter which governmental entity would end up issuing the bonds for the $1 billion project, the deal would not change substantially. The $300 million bond package would continue to be backed by the existing hotel-motel taxes that are collected in the City of Atlanta. The Falcons and the National Football League would cover two-thirds of the stadium’s cost.

Gov. Nathan Deal

Gov. Nathan Deal said Atlanta Falcons’ success helps stadium’s chances

By Maria Saporta

Gov. Nathan Deal said the Atlanta Falcons’ win on Sunday might help the team win support at the Georgia General Assembly.

“Anytime people good about something, it is good,” said Deal, adding that a win Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers would be even more significant. “I certainly think winning the game will be positive.”

That said, the governor said it is highly unlikely he will be able to attend Sunday’s game. A brother-in-law passed away this past weekend, and the memorial service will be this Sunday out of town. And Deal is on the program.

Of dogs, loyalty and Chipper Jones

Diezel is 9, which in dog years is 63, but the Boston terrier didn’t look or act his age Sunday night at Turner Field.

He was rocking a red and blue fur mohawk during the divine canine evening known as Bark in the Park, when dogs take over the nosebleed seats.

At this point in this season, this night was really loyalty – pure and bittersweet. This month will mark the farewell of third baseman Chipper Jones, after a Braves career that began with the 1990 amateur draft.

Chipper is that blue-moon pro athlete who performs so well for so long in the same place. Our dogs don’t stay with us very long, either.


Falcons GM Thomas Dimitroff’s Moment was seeing his mom and dad together one last time

By Chris Schroder

Thomas Dimitroff likes to live life in the fast lane. In his free time, you will find the highly successful general manager of the Atlanta Falcons pushing the limits in extreme sports, such as snowboarding, mountain biking, rock climbing or riding his Harley-Davidson motorcycle.

Under his management, the Falcons have had four consecutive winning seasons, made three playoff appearances and have reset expectations to be considered as one of the elite teams in the NFL.

Atlanta’s flag insult shows how Canada forgives, inspires

Last weekend, the Atlanta Braves’ home stand once again offered a reminder of one country’s grace and civility in competition – and a story of one Georgia woman’s transformed understanding of that same nation, Canada.

At Turner Field, last weekend served as a paean to Sid Bream’s famous slide that sent the Braves to the 1992 World Series. Their series opponent was back in town — the Toronto Blue Jays, whose fans in 1992 got a chance to show their character when Atlanta botched a basic national symbol: flying a flag.

Imagine that happening the other way around. Granted, at that moment, the post-9/11 patriotic fervor was still a decade away. But would Americans simply let that go as an unintentional slight to Old Glory?

Through writing and golf, Furman Bisher taught about life and death

When Furman Bisher came into my life in 1986, I was fresh out of college, a whippersnapper sportswriter in awe of the legendary Atlanta Journal columnist. Aged 68, he seemed positively ancient.

Over the next quarter century, I studied the way he worked and wrote, and we became friends through our shared interest in golf – a sport that connects people of diverse ages and abilities.

When “the Bish” died a week ago, to me he was a young 93, because he changed my view of what it meant to grow old.

He did this by example — by living and writing the way he played golf.

Braves photo Buddy Carlyle

After quake, Braves pitcher Buddy Carlyle’s family helps stabilize Japanese single mom

After 17 years in pro baseball, the Carlyles are used to rapid shifts in the foundation of their family’s life.

That’s why their family supporters are so precious to them, and that’s why when the earthquake shook Japan on March 11, 2011, the Carlyles pitched in to care for Akane Nakagawa, the single mom who had cared for them, and for her community that suddenly, desperately needed help.

The Wexel family of Lilburn

Georgia family with 14 children gives back through basketball fundraiser

On Saturday at 7 pm at St. Pius X Catholic High School gymnasium, you can see a team of local lawyers show up on a different court against a squad of Atlanta doctors with a prescription for winning.

The game, billed as “Jawbones vs. Sawbones,” will be played the weekend before the ACC college basketball tournament in Philips Arena. March Madness kicks off with a bit of March Malpractice.

“I hope their cardiologist brings his paddles,” one lawyer joked in an email.

The game benefits Side by Side Clubhouse, a day program for people who have experienced traumatic brain injury – a population that has swelled with returning troops. Brain injuries have also become more publicized through athletic concussions.

Atlanta Falcons, young dancers score points on sheer resolve

The work ethic and energy of the dancers from Moving in the Spirit is remarkable.

Every day they are moving against the tide of childhood obesity, too common in poorer neighborhoods. Their personal work ethic contrasts to the cheating educators in the Atlanta Public Schools, where many of these dancers learn.

Their Holiday Store helps teach them financial literacy and credit lessons that too few of us grasp.