How a new stadium would benefit us all

Since our inaugural game in 1966, the Falcons have called downtown Atlanta home — the first 26 seasons in Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium, and the last 20 in the Georgia Dome.

Based upon current projections, it’s likely the bonds financing the Dome will be paid off in advance of the original plan of 2020. When that happens, our lease at the Georgia Dome will expire.

In preparation for the lease’s end, the Georgia World Congress Center Authority, along with the Falcons, has been considering and exploring options that will meet the needs of our fans, our franchise and the authority, as well as provide economic enhancement opportunities for our city and region over a long period of time.

This included the possibility of modifying and expanding the Georgia Dome. In partnership with the authority, we have determined that pursuit of a state-of-the-art retractable roof stadium provides the best long-term solution for all parties.

So, we are working on the possibility of building a world-class, multipurpose stadium on the authority campus. Stadium projects are like many economic development projects — they require a public-private partnership. Just as public and private sectors partnered to develop many of Atlanta’s iconic facilities, including Turner Field and Philips Arena, we are working with the authority to create a win-win scenario for the state, the county, the city, the community and the Falcons.

The public investment for this project will come from a portion of the recently extended hotel-motel tax, which is a bed tax placed on Atlanta visitors, not local residents, and serves as an engine for other economic development in our city beyond a new stadium.

Be assured, the funding contributed by the Falcons will be substantial, and we are prepared to shoulder the project risks, including bearing the construction, capital and operating risks.

Beyond the Falcons’ ability to remain competitive on the field for the long-term, a new stadium provides additional potential benefits to the state-run authority and our region — the prospect of adding a Major League Soccer franchise to Georgia’s professional sports team mix, or attracting more college football playoffs; major events such as a Super Bowl, a World Cup, an NCAA Final Four. This is in addition to enhancing the GWCC’s ability to add to its list of legacy events held at the Georgia Dome.

A new stadium will enhance the perception of the state, region and city, help drive economic development, and cement our franchise’s stability well beyond its current ownership. Our pledge and commitment is to go further. We will seek to positively impact the surrounding community with our time, our talent and our other resources as we plan for the new stadium and beyond.

We are honored to call Atlanta our home. We look forward to serving our fans and community for years to come as we all work to enhance Atlanta’s preeminence as the dominant sports city in the Southeast.

Richard J. McKay is president and CEO of the Atlanta Falcons.