Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank's making the public case for a new stadium, this time to season ticket holders at the team's "State of the Franchise" on Wednesday night at the Buckhead Theatre.
The official Falcons write-up of the event makes no mention of the stadium talk, which you can watch here at around the 38:00 mark. Blank asked the audience not to ask questions about the proposal, which could be funded with up to $300 million from the city's hotel/motel tax. Reports John Manasso of FoxSportsSouth:
"A new stadium is going to be important not only for playing football, but if we eventually want to have Major League Soccer in Atlanta we need a new stadium," Blank said in a video archived on the team's Web site. "If we eventually want to be considered to not just play in a Super Bowl but to host a Super Bowl, we will need a new stadium. If we eventually want to be a consideration for a World Cup - and the World Cup will come back to United States' soil - we need to have a new stadium in Atlanta, Georgia. If we want to continue to be considered for the NCAA Final Four, we need a new stadium in Atlanta.
"I can give you examples, many examples, a lot of the existing events that if we didn't get a new stadium in the next five, 10, 15 years, we would not be a player. The governor (Nathan Deal) understands that, we certainly understand that and the authority understands it, as well. So that's one challenge is to get the stadium done."
The team is currently exploring two potential locations for the new stadium, which would feature a retractable roof: "the Gulch," the expansive parking lot and railroad junction near Philips Arena, or along Northside Drive near Ivan Allen Boulevard. (Blank said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell's prefers an open-air stadium, which the Falcons originally considered.)
Blank told the crowd - which booed the very mention of an open-air stadium ‐ that he hopes the facility will be a "win-win" for everyone involved, including the surrounding communities. He said the team wants the new arena to "make a difference in people's lives" who live in downtown, Vine City, and English Avenue.
"We are committed to developing a vision with political and social leadership to build something that won't just be a stadium but will change lives in downtown," he said. "And those areas that have not changed because of development in downtown Atlanta, we want to make sure they do change because of our commitment."
Mayor Kasim Reed, who supports the new stadium proposal, is scheduled to brief the Falcons board next Tuesday night, Blank added. It's also worth checking out Manasso's report for details about ticket prices if - or is it when? - the new stadium is built.
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