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Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Deal earmarks $15 million for land that'd be just great for a new Atlanta Falcons stadium

Gov. Nathan Deal today released his proposed budget for the upcoming year (large PDF) and one line in particular caught our eye: The allocation of $15 million in bond funding to the Georgia World Congress Center Authority to purchase land in "Atlanta, Fulton County."

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  • The Budget, yo!

We immediately thought of the vacant Atlanta Housing Authority property at the corner of Northside Drive and John Street just north of the convention center's vast concrete "marshaling yards." Herndon Homes, one of the city's last public housing complexes, was located on the land until its demolition in early 2010.

Bingo! A GWCCA spokesman confirms that the authority is, indeed, interested in that specific parcel.

"We could use it for parking, future expansion," he tells CL. "Another thing could be the potential open-air stadium."

Ah, yes, the open-air stadium — something Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank has long craved.

The Atlanta Housing Authority property is the blue square. According to a recent GWCCA study, the massive parking lot to the south could accommodate a new open-air stadium
  • Google Maps
  • The Atlanta Housing Authority property is the blue square. According to a recent GWCCA study, the massive parking lot to the south could accommodate a new open-air stadium
A recent GWCCA study found that such a facility could fit on the authority's massive parking lot abutting the Herndon Homes property.

There's just one problem: To fit that site, the field would need to run east to west. Apparently, the NFL frowns upon that configuration because the sun's position in the sky could give the team at one end an advantage. With the addition of the Atlanta Housing Authority land, could the stadium accommodate a field running north to south? Or would the parcel replace the GWCCA's marshaling yard, which is considered vital to the convention center's operations. Perhaps additional parking? Take a look at the map to the right and let us know.

The spokesman confirmed that GWCCA officials and the AHA have been in discussions over the property and that the authority and Falcons executives have a great relationship and "continue to have conversations... regarding the potential of building a new open-air stadium."

Actually, maybe we should quit using the word "potential" when referring to a new stadium. Although there's never been an official announcement from the city, state, or team management, insiders tell us it's effectively considered a done deal within what passes for the corridors of power. Deal's $15 million land allocation, if approved, would seem to support that contention.

As one well-placed source says, regarding the likelihood of an open-air stadium: "That horse has left the barn." How the construction of that stadium would be funded is an entirely different story.

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