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Hope reigns on west side over Falcons stadium deal

By Stan Washington Senior Writer | 3/22/2013, noon
The new Atlanta Falcons stadium deal approved this week could have a long-lasting positive impact on the nearby lower-income neighborhoods ...

The proposal, three years in the making, is now being reviewed by the board of Invest Atlanta, the city's economic development agency, and by two historical black churches, Friendship Baptist and Mount Vernon Baptist, which currently sit on the team's first site choice.

If the church congregations vote the measure down, the stadium likely will be built at the Falcons second site choice north of the Georgia Dome at Northside Drive and Simpson Road. The current Dome would be torn down and that space would be used for parking once the new stadium is built.

Young, whose council district includes the proposed stadium location, said sources tell him that the two churches are leaning towards approving the plan.

The approved plan calls for the city's share of the construction to be capped at $200 million through use of the city's hotel-motel tax. The Falcons would contribute the remaining $800 million and would be responsible for any cost overruns. The council voted to contribute 39.3 percent of the hotel-motel tax to the stadium through 2050 for operational costs – the same amount that currently goes to the Georgia Dome.

The Falcons also would contribute up to $70 million for infrastructure improvements around the stadium and $20 million for land acquisitions. The Arthur Blank Foundation will contribute $15 million to the surrounding neighborhoods.

If approved by the Invest Atlanta board, an additional $15 million in tax allocations would be designated for the surrounding communities for private sector and philanthropic investments.

The Falcons and the Georgia World Congress Center Authority also agreed to develop an Equal Business Opportunity plan that would ensure at least 31 percent participation by women and minority business firms in the design and construction of the stadium.