Los Angeles Reportedly Interested in Acquiring Falcons; Reed Pushes New Stadium

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    As Falcons owner Arthur Blank and city and state officials are pushing a new downtown retractable-roof stadium for the team, reports have surfaced that the city of Los Angeles has expressed interest in acquiring the Atlanta Falcons.

    Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed has warned city council members about business interests in LA who want to move the Falcons to the west coast, reports Fox 5. Blank reportedly shared that information with top city and state officials in their discussions about financing a new stadium in downtown Atlanta.

    Two council members who met with Reed told FOX 5 about private discussions the mayor hosted at City Hall.

    Reed called in council members one at a time to tell them that the city needs to take a more aggressive lead in the public financing portion of the proposed stadium.

    The Falcons and the National Football League would cover two-thirds of the stadium’s cost with public dollars on the hook for the remaining amount. There has been no word about financing for proposed downtown infrastructure renovations that have been backed by Mayor Kasim Reed. The mayor estimated that project would push the cost from $946 million to $1.2 billion.

    According to previous reports, key business terms for a new stadium include:

    The GWCCA, a state agency, would own the stadium.

    The Falcons would operate the stadium under a 30-year license agreement, with options to renew for an additional 15 years.

    A portion of the construction cost would be funded by revenue from the hotel-motel tax in the city of Atlanta and Fulton County; that portion has been estimated at around $300 million. The rest, including any cost overruns, would be the Falcons’ responsibility, although that could be offset by the sale of personal seat licenses.

    The Falcons would pay annual rent of $2.5 million, increasing 2 percent per year, to the GWCCA.

    There has been opposition to a new stadium deal from some legislators, and several polls have shown that there is not much support statewide for a new Atlanta Falcons stadium.

    According to a recent poll, Atlantans are overwhelmingly opposed to the prospect of using public funds to build the new $900 million-plus stadium, and Reed admitted that a new stadium in Atlanta was highly unlikely without public financing.

    A recent statewide poll conducted by the AJC showed 72 percent of respondents either opposed or strongly opposed to using hotel/motel tax collections in Atlanta and unincorporated Fulton County to help finance construction.

    Earlier, Gov. Nathan Deal said there was not much support in the Georgia legislature for the state to take the lead on financing and Reed has previously noted that without public financing a deal for a stadium is unlikely.

    Council members reported the mayor described Blank as being willing to increase the percentage the Falcons might pay to make the billion-dollar deal possible.

    The city of Los Angeles has been without an NFL franchise for almost two decades. In 1994, the Rams moved to St. Louis. A year later, the Raiders relocated to Oakland. Los Angeles remains the largest metropolitan area without pro football, and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has said getting a pro team there is a top priority.

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