Former Atlanta mayor and UN ambassador Andrew Young has thrown his support behind a proposal to build the Atlanta Falcons a new $900 million - $1 billion retractable roof stadium downtown. The Atlanta heavyweight called the stadium "another opportunity that gives us a chance to shape the future."
Young was present at last night's public hearing on the new stadium and endorsed the controversial plan, before members of the public. It was the first time members of the Atlanta City Council got to hear public response about the stadium proposal.
"The Dome is sort of like the Olympics, and we said if we won the Olympics, the day we won it, the future of Atlanta would change," Young said.
The latest proposal floated at the meeting would have the city of Atlanta contribute $200 million from its hotel/motel tax fund and the team would pay the rest, according to Fox Atlanta.
An earlier plan to pay for the new stadium called for the Falcons to contribute $700 million toward the project, with the other $300 million coming from Atlanta and Fulton County hotel-motel tax revenue. Falcons officials have since said the team would be willing to provide another $100 million.
Some people at the hearing said that the money could be better spent.
"It will be funded out of Atlanta tax money, but used by the rich and super rich, who can still afford to go to games after they raise general ticket prices and institute personal fee licenses to pay for their share of the stadium funding," one man told the crowd.
Many of those in attendance at Wednesday's hearing questioned whether the team needs a new stadium. Falcons President Rich McKay said a new stadium would be a better option than renovating the Georgia Dome.
"We think it creates a long-term solution for Atlanta. It puts us in a better position 15 years from now than doing some type of small renovation or $200 or $300 million renovation," McKay said.
McKay previously said that if the team did not get a deal to build the new stadium in downtown Atlanta, the Falcons would likely move to the suburbs. He said the Falcons are not considering a move outside the state, according to WXIA.
"We want to give this opportunity every opportunity to succeed and that has been our focus 100 percent," McKay said after the meeting.
The Falcons insist there is no deadline for when negotiations over funding for a new downtown stadium need to be completed. However, McKay did say that he is insisting the stadium be ready to open by the 2017 in order to avoid a move out of the city.
"I don't have a timeline because I think whenever you say, 'It's going to be a month from now,'" said McKay, "it never seems to happen."