The Atlanta Hawks and the city have come to terms on a deal, including public funds, to keep the NBA franchise downtown in a renovated Philips Arena through 2046.
The deal to keep the Hawks in the city was announced Tuesday almost three years after the Braves announced plans to leave downtown for Cobb County for a new ballpark that will open next year.
“I am delighted to announce the city of Atlanta has agreed in principle for $192.5 million renovation of Philips Arena that will keep the Hawks in downtown Atlanta for many decades to come,” Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed said Tuesday.
The city will put $142.5 million into the renovation, with the Hawks contributing $50 million.
Reed told reporters the deal has a break-up provision of $200 million if the Hawks leave the arena before 2046.
Reed said the project will be “a stake in the ground for revitalization in the corridor near Mercedes-Benz Stadium,” saying that he believes $1.5 billion in future development could come to the area over the coming years.
Reed said there will be no money from the general fund for the project, and no new taxes created to fund the renovation.
About $110 million will come from extension of car-rental tax and the city will contribute $12.5 million from the sale of Turner Field, which is expected to close by year end. The remaining $20 million from the city will come from a series of expected future land sales, Reed said.
Reed has previously said the city and the Hawks have been in discussions about renovation of Philips Arena that could be up to a $300 million project. The city has been determining how much money it will be able to make available to the project, and that figure is about $100 million to $150 million, Reed said in the meeting with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution earlier this year.
The city commitment as a percentage of the total project cost is higher than what Reed had originally discussed in previous interviews.
Hawks officials have previously said they are looking to, among a number of upgrades, replace the bank of suites that dominate one side of the arena, install a variety of different-size suites, improve the connectivity so fans can navigate around the arena on one level and create better floor seating by changing the layout which originally had oval ends to accommodate hockey.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution first reported in February interest by Hawks lead owner Tony Ressler in redeveloping land around Philips Arena into a vibrant mixed-use community.
Ressler, team part-owner Grant Hill, Hawks chief Steve Koonin and players were present at City Hall for the announcement.
In April, Hawks lead owner Tony Ressler said that the Hawks plan to be a catalyst in the continued development of downtown Atlanta.
This would be the fifth pro sports facility project to receive public funding in the past few years, including Mercedes-Benz Stadium, SunTrust Park, and the training facilities of the Hawks and Atlanta United. Separately, Georgia State University plans to convert Turner Field into a football stadium with a private development team handling a node of housing, retail, restaurants and green space around The Ted.
“It’s incredibly exciting,” said Hawks President of Basketball Operations and head coach Mike Budenholzer. “To have this commitment to our arena, to our playing home, it means a lot to me, it means a lot to our players and, hopefully, it means a lot to our fans. Following the announcement about our new practice facility and going to see that site and they are moving and shaking. All these things, to happen at this pace, it’s a real credit to Tony Ressler and Steve Koonin and everybody that is working at an unbelievable rate.”
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