Capitals

Falcons a little closer to getting new stadium

Falcons a little closer to getting new stadium

ATLANTA (AP) After about two years of discussions, the Atlanta Falcons are a step closer to getting a new downtown stadium.

The state agency that owns the 20-year-old Georgia Dome on Monday approved the framework for a deal with the Falcons to build a roughly $1 billion stadium with a retractable roof. There are still several key steps ahead, including exactly how much the government will have to contribute and where it will be built.

The deal calls for the Falcons to pay about 70 percent of the total cost, and the government will pay for the rest with a hotel tax. The Fulton County Commission and the city of Atlanta still must approve using the revenue from the tax to build the new stadium. Mayor Kasim Reed has thrown his support behind the deal.

Under the proposal, the Falcons will run the facility and the Georgia World Congress Center Authority, a state agency, will own it. The Falcons will agree not to relocate and pay $2.5 million in rent annually. The franchise gets to keep revenue generated from parking and operations.

The new stadium expects to have a seating capacity of between 66,000 and 72,000 and be completed in 2017. The proposal also calls for demolishing the Georgia Dome, which is also owned by the authority.

The Georgia Dome hosted artistic gymnastics and basketball during the 1996 Olympic Games as well as NCAA basketball tournament games, soccer matches and rock concerts. The 1994 and 2000 Super Bowls were played there, and it will host the NCAA Final Four in April.

Rich McKay, CEO of the Atlanta Falcons, said the franchise would explore plans to relocate within Atlanta or the metro area if the deal is not approved by local leaders.

``We would probably go back and look at a solution that involves an outdoor stadium somewhere else. That would not be our desire, and we don't anticipate that,'' McKay said, ``We've really put our eggs in this basket.''

According to NFL.com, the Georgia Dome is the 10th-oldest out of the league's 32 stadiums.

``I think this stadium should be iconic unto itself, and should put Atlanta in a position where we can attract any event that we desire to attract,'' McKay said.

Frank Poe, executive director of the authority, said the agency has no contingency plan if city and county officials assail the proposal.

Officials also need to decide whether the new stadium would be built on property north of the Georgia Dome, or on a lot south of the 71,250-seat arena. Poe said land costs, potential traffic congestion and the projected impacts on nearby neighborhoods will likely factor into that decision.

Falcons coach Mike Smith and his players have paid little attention to the stadium negotiations. The team is 11-2 and already has clinched a playoff spot by winning the NFC South.

``I don't concern myself with the stadium,'' Smith said. ``I know that's something that's way down the timeline.''

Offensive tackle Tyson Clabo chuckled when asked about it.

``Let me tell you a little secret about this new stadium,'' the 31-year-old Clabo said. ``I'm going to be long gone by the time we play there.''

William Perry, of Georgia Common Cause, a nonprofit, non-partisan citizen advocacy group, said the public has not been given enough opportunity to weigh in.

``It just seems like there needs to be more dialogue about what the public wants in this whole deal,'' Perry said. ``It just gives the appearance that this thing is sailing through like a rubber stamp.''

His organization has not taken a position on the proposal.

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Capitals Faceoff Podcast: What happens in Vegas....

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Capitals Faceoff Podcast: What happens in Vegas....

It's almost here.

After a lengthy break between the conference finals and the Stanley Cup Finals, the Capitals and Vegas Golden Knights are set to meet on Monday for Game 1.

Who will hoist Lord Stanley's Cup?

JJ Regan and Tarik El-Bashir give their keys to the series and their predictions for the Stanley Cup Final. Plus, JJ speaks with several member from the local media to get their insights and predictions.

Check out their latest episode in the player below or listen on the Capitals Faceoff Podcast page.

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Need to Know: A look at the Redskins' key 2019 free agents

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Need to Know: A look at the Redskins' key 2019 free agents

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, May 27, 16 days before the Washington Redskins start minicamp.  

Note: I am vacationing in the Outer Banks this week. In this space, I’ll be presenting some of the most popular posts of the last few months. I hope you enjoy these “best of” presentations and I’ll see you folks when I get back. 

Here is my sunrise view from this morning:

Looking at next year’s free agents

This post was originally published on March 18. 

There is still work that the Redskins can do in free agency and they still have some of their own players they want to retain. But with a lot of the player movement already in the books, we can take a look forward some of the key Redskin who currently are set to be free agents when the 2019 league year opens. 

QB Colt McCoy (Week 1 age 32)—Lots of questions here. Will the Redskins want to keep him around for another year as Alex Smith’s backup? Or will they want a younger and cheaper backup? Will McCoy want to move on rather than back up another QB who doesn’t miss many games?

OL Ty Nsekhe (32)—The Redskins gave him a second-round restricted free agent tender this year so it’s possible that he could be gone or on a long-term contract in Washington. If he is a free agent, his value and the difficulty of retaining him could depend on if he ends the season as a reserve tackle (easy) or as a starting guard (hard). 

OLB Preston Smith (25)—As we saw with Trent Murphy (three years, $21 million with up to $30 million), pass rushers get paid. Smith also makes big plays. Since Smith came into the NFL, he is the only player with at least 20 sacks, 3 interceptions, and 4 forced fumbles. If the Redskins can’t reach a deal on an extension with him this year the franchise tag is a distinct possibility. 

WR Jamison Crowder (25)—This year the supply of quality receivers both as free agents and in the draft sent contract prices skyrocketing. To guard against that happening next year, the Redskin should start talking to Crowder about an extension soon. 

ILB Zach Vigil (27)—As I noted here, Vigil went from being cut in September to a very valuable reserve in November. Both Zach Brown and Mason Foster will still be under contract, but the Redskin still should make an effort to retain Vigil for special teams and as a capable backup. 

Other Redskins who are slated to be UFA’s next year are DL Ziggy Hood and ILB Martrell Spaight. 

It’s also worth noting that WR Maurice Harris and DE Anthony Lanier will both be restricted free agents next year. Both positions were pricey in free agency this year, so both could require at least second-round tenders, which likely will increase to about $3 million in 2019. 

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCSand follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCSand on Instagram @RichTandler