The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported on Wednesday that Atlanta Falcons President and CEO Rich McKay announced during an Atlanta City Council meeting the team could look to move the site for a new stadium to suburban Atlanta if a deal could not be reached between the team and the city of Atlanta. Obviously this raised some eyebrows inside the community of folks that are at the center of this debate, and through a statement released by the Falcons two days ago, Falcon’s owner Arthur Blank addressed the situation.
Rich McKay may want the team to move to the ‘burbs but Falcons’ owner Arthur Blank wants to stay downtown. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
"“We have a very good partnership with the Georgia World Congress Center, and we want that to continue into the future. As a business, it is our responsibility to consider all of our options, but in this case, we are not making any alternate plans at this time.” – Arthur Blank’s statement"
McKay made it clear that his statements were not a threat, but with the team’s lease for the Georgia Dome ending in 2017, he made it clear that the team would not be willing to remain tenants. When asked about staying in the dome after 2017, McKay said, “We just don’t believe it makes any sense.”
When asked about why the team would move to the suburbs, McKay responded:
"“That’s just a reality as our lease is going to end and we could do it for a lot less cost.” – Rich McKay, Falcon’s President and CEO"
McKay did reiterate that this was not a demand or else type of statement, but looked to future opportunities for the city of Atlanta to make money with a new stadium as a reason for the city to pass the deal and get moving on the project. “MLS, to us, is something we see in a new facility as having a real possibility,” McKay said, adding that it would add about 20 games, as well as new jobs.
The Falcons have already agreed to handle over two-thirds of the cost of the purposed $900 million retractable dome stadium, with the other portions of the funding coming from the Georgia World Congress Center’s sale of bonds, backed by the city’s motel-hotel tax, which would be capped at $200 million.
"“We are focusing all of our time and resources on finalizing an agreement for the new stadium in downtown Atlanta. We appreciate (Atlanta) Mayor Reed’s strong support in helping us stay downtown, which is the right place for us to be.” – Arthur Blank in the statement released by the Falcons"
With McKay’s threats, and Blank’s reassurance, this deal may have just got a lot further away from a resolution than it was a week ago.