The Atlanta Falcons will consider moving to the suburbs if the team does not get a new $1 billion downtown stadium built by 2017, a team executive told a packed City Council meeting on Wednesday.
“We would have no choice but to consider pursuing another option in metro Atlanta” if negotiations break down, Falcons President and CEO Rich McKay said. “Please don’t let anybody say that’s a threat. No, that’s just a reality of what we have to do as our lease is about to end.”
While it wasn’t the first time the team had expressed that position, McKay’s reiteration was significant given events of recent weeks, as the proposal for a new stadium built with partial public funding encountered political opposition.
“We could do it (build a new stadium) for a lot less cost (elsewhere). That would not be our first choice,” McKay told a gallery of council members and citizens, adding that he was relaying the sentiments of Falcons owner Arthur Blank. “We think (downtown) is where the deal should be done, but it is our intent to play in a new stadium in 2017.”
McKay rejected the idea of making extensive repairs and renovations to the Georgia Dome, calling them a “short-term solution.” He said it would not make any sense for the Falcons to stay in the Dome past 2017, when the team’s lease could expire.