Falcons plan to have a new stadium by 2017

Chris Graythen

The Georgia Dome will be going on its 22nd year of operation in 2013, and its tenure as the Atlanta Falcons home appears to be drawing to a close. Team executives met in an Atlanta City Council meeting on Wednesday to discuss its proposal for a new stadium, voicing the aspiration to be playing in a new stadium by the time the 2017 season rolls around.

According to reports, the Georgia Dome will require $350 million in repairs over the next five to seven years. At this point, that amount would total to more than what the Falcons plan to ask for the city of Atlanta to pay for a new stadium. As Jeff Schultz says, though, the figure given is an escalated political tactic.

Their current proposal for a potential billion dollar stadium uses a private/public partnership to cover 20 percent of the overall cost with a hotel/motel tax. The team plans to cover the rest.

Duriya Farooqui, Atlanta's chief operating officer, said new stadiums in Houston, Phoenix, Indianapolis and Arlington were paid for with more public money than in the terms presented by the Falcons. Residents on hand for the meeting voiced concerns about taxes being raised. A majority of issues brought up came from residents near the area the Georgia Dome is located in now.

Here's what the AJC noted from these citizens.

Among the requests: better parking enforcement, job training and jobs inside the stadium, millions of dollars for a housing trust fund that could help rehabilitate homes, repairs for the crumbling Herndon Stadium at Morris Brown College and a pedestrian promenade from the Vine City Walmart to Centennial Olympic Park.

If a deal can't be reached downtown, the Falcons will consider building a new stadium in a different part of metro Atlanta. As president and CEO Rich McKay put it, "We would have no choice but to consider pursuing another option in metro Atlanta."

A retractable roof, a key aspect to the new stadium, adds to the price considerably, but other events like the NCAA Final Four would be attracted as well. The Falcons seem to be doing all they can to please the downtown area. However, they're going to look elsewhere if these negotiations ultimately stall.

"We think (downtown) is where the deal should be done, but it is our intent to play in a new stadium in 2017," said McKay. Maybe they'll examine the Kennesaw area. I wouldn't mind driving 10 minutes to a football game.

We all love the Dome. It's still a great venue, but you can't deny the fact that Atlanta wants to upgrade. Super Bowl consideration is seems to be out of the question with the current stadium. We're looking at 2017 or bust for a new home field.

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