Atlanta Falcons: Fans Shouldn't Worry About Move to Los Angeles

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Atlanta Falcons: Fans Shouldn't Worry About Move to Los Angeles
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According to a FOX 5 report, Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank and city mayor Kasim Reed have told city council members that businesses in Los Angeles want to lure the franchise to the West Coast. 

Los Angeles saw an agreement on Oct. 3 to build a new stadium to help the city in its quest to bring an NFL team back. Los Angeles has not had an NFL team call it home since the Rams moved to St. Louis and the Raiders moved back to Oakland in 1995. 

According to an NESN report last October, the Rams and Raiders have been pursued, as have the Jaguars and Vikings, who both have had stadium issues (financially and infrastructural, respectively) in recent years.  

The Falcons have been in Atlanta since the franchise's birth as an expansion team in 1965. 

This is the first time the Falcons have been mentioned in the discussion, and there's a reason why.

Blank has been pushing for a new stadium for the past several years, and recently it has become more evident that a deal will be made between Blank and the Georgia World Congress Center Authority (GWCCA). 

Blank plans to provide $700 million of the $1 billion it's going to take to put a new, state-of-the-art facility just north or just south of the current Georgia Dome site. 

The rest of the bill would be compensated by a hotel-motel tax that was extended in 2010 with the purpose of sending $200 million to the GWCCA to use toward renovations towards tourist attractions such as the Georgia World Congress Center, Georgia Aquarium, World of Coke or the Georgia Dome.

Those facilities didn't need renovations, nor were they asking for significant funds, and the Georgia Dome had recently gone under a renovation in 2008. It was obvious this bill was signed with the intention of footing a new football stadium.

Now, the new stadium plan would need to see the state legislator approve a $100 million raise in the hotel-motel tax portion of the deal, or Blank would need to provide more cash from his own pocket. If $200 million cannot go anywhere but a GWCCA facility, then it wouldn't seem like legislators who are against public funding have much ground to stand on when refusing the increase. 

Reed has endorsed Blank's wishes for a new venue for the Falcons, and according to the FOX 5 report he told city council members that they need to, "take a more aggressive lead in the public financing portion of the proposed open-air stadium."

Also, according to the report, Gov. Nathan Deal doesn't think the legislator will budge. 

Even Atlanta residents made it public in a poll by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that they are not on board with the city using public money towards a new venue, mainly because the Georgia Dome has served as a great home to one of the league's winningest teams. 

The truth is, however, that the Falcons would be in for more outdated stadium talk down the line if they signed a new lease on the Georgia Dome, which ends in 2020. 

The time is now for the Falcons to bid for a new venue, and yes they would have seen easier pickings and public approval of the idea had the team made it to the Super Bowl. 

Because the legislature has been a tad ho-hum on the request for a $100 million increase in public funds, Blank and Reed are using threats of a Los Angeles buyer to prompt a quicker and hopefully accommodating response. 

Blank is even reportedly willing to take the hit himself to make sure the line is met. 

The Falcons and the GWCCA even announced on Monday that the top-five design firms have been chosen to battle for the opportunity to render the new venue. 

Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images
It's pretty clear the Falcons are going to get the deal done and begin the project of opening a new stadium, which is slated to open in 2017 at the earliest if things go according to plan. 

The only reason you are hearing about Los Angeles right now is because of politics. It's also hard to imagine why the Raiders have not been at the forefront of this discussion. The Raiders are the only NFL team that still plays on baseball dirt in September, and with the 49ers moving to Santa Clara in 2013, the Raiders will actually be three times closer to downtown San Francisco than their cross-bay rivals. 

A Raiders move to L.A. makes too much sense. 

In the end, this calculated threat to the city of Atlanta will probably help jumpstart Blank's vision of a new stadium.

Blank has been a committed and popular owner in the NFL, helping re-tool the Falcons into one of the more likeable and professional organizations in the league. 

The Falcons also have a franchise quarterback, head coach and general manager that have helped produce five straight winning seasons for a franchise that had never had back-to-back winning years in team history until 2009. 

The football fans here are coming out in waves because of the success.  

When it all shakes up, Los Angeles will be getting a team. That's inevitable. 

But it won't be the Falcons. 

If anything, fiscal fundamentals aside, Falcons fans should be extremely excited for the future of this franchise. 

 

Michael Foster is an Atlanta Falcons Featured Columnist for BleacherReport. He also served as Sports Editor of The Sentinel (Kennesaw State University's student-run newspaper) for a year and a half, has co-hosted a radio show for KSU Owl Radio and has worked as a sports correspondent for the Marietta Daily Journal and Cherokee Tribune, covering high school football in northwest Atlanta. 

Follow him on Twitter for Falcons news and analysis!

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