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Bigger, better home for the Georgia Dome?


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Bigger, better home for the Georgia Dome?

Georgia World Congress Center looks to expansion to stay competitive with other cities

By LEON STAFFORD

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Thursday, December 04, 2008

In the future, the Atlanta Falcons could play in a new Georgia Dome south of its current home while the front door to the Georgia World Congress Center would move to Marietta Street in a giant new building.

And conventioneers, who bring millions to Atlanta’s coffers every year, would get around the convention center on airport-like moving sidewalks or trams.

Those are just some of the ideas unveiled Wednesday in a master plan for the downtown Georgia World Congress Center campus, which encompasses the convention facility, Dome and nearby Centennial Olympic Park.

GWCC officials are looking at ways to expand the massive campus to stay competitive with other cities that are building newer and larger football stadiums and convention centers. Khalil Johnson, GWCC chief operating officer, offered no pricetag for the ideas and said there is no timetable for when any, if accepted, would be implemented.

Any plans would need approval from the GWCC Authority, the governing board. The convention center, Dome and Centennial Olympic Park are state-owned and operated.

Whatever is done, it will be a necessary move. The Dome, which is just 16 years old, is older than 20 of the National Football League’s more than 30 stadiums. The NFL has increasingly awarded Super Bowls to cities that have newer stadiums. And Falcons owner Arthur Blank has said he wants a new stadium when the bonds issued to build the Dome are paid off, probably around 2015 to 2020.

When it was built in 1992, the Georgia Dome cost $214 million. But the cost of building a new stadium is now much more expensive. The Dallas Cowboys’ new stadium cost about $1 billion, while the New York Jets and New York Giants will play in a $1.3 billion stadium, now under construction.

The convention center — the fourth largest in the country at 1.4 million square feet of exhibit space — recently saw its main competitors — in Chicago, Las Vegas and Orlando — grow even bigger, even though it added 420,000 square feet in 2003 at a cost of $282 million, using state funds and convention proceeds.

Johnson told stakeholders — residents and community leaders living near the campus that were invited to the unveiling — that the master plan is designed to help officials look at opportunities for future growth.

“What we are trying to do is lay out the options,” Johnson said. “It gives us a road map for the way forward if you will, but not which exit to get off on.”

HOK Sport, a Kansas City, Mo.-based firm known for its work with NFL teams, helped create the GWCC’s master plan. The company said it saw ways for the facility to better use its footprint to attract business by improving landscaping on its border streets, making the campus more walkable and creating greater areas of greenspace.

The company laid out several alternative plans for the GWCC, which generally centered around expanding or moving the Dome and increasing the size of the convention center. Each configuration used some of the GWCC’s existing 44 acres of undeveloped space, including parking lots and pre-function or staging areas, for the expansion.

That growth also could come from expanding the current Georgia Dome, which has seen several renovations recently, including a new paint job, For example, one plan calls for building new floors atop the Congress Center, making it a vertical as well as a horizontal giant.

Building a new football stadium would take four to five years, while building a new convention facility would take about three to five, said Dennis Wellner, senior principal with HOK.

“This isn’t something that is prescriptive or definitive,” said Herman Howard, a senior associate in HOK’s Atlanta office.

Johnson said there are a lot of benefits to each of the alternatives.

For instance, expanding building A to Marietta Street would give the Congress Center an exciting front door and reinvent the facility’s original building, which is 33 years old.

Officials also would take advantage of a new conference center to build a ballroom that is three times the size of the facility’s largest offering to make the Congress Center an even bigger draw, he said.

Johnson said the plans are not pie-in-the-sky dreams that will just gather dust.

“This is not a static document that will be put on the shelf,” Johnson said. “This is a living document.”

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Interesting... with the Dome's new paint job, seats, and TVs everywhere now, I'm pretty happy with it. I'll be even happier next year when they get the big screens in there. The only thing that's really sad about it is the audio system, echo echo echo echo....

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Oh Crap! :o I’m happy that business for the GWCC is good enough to expand but can’t we talk about this AFTER December? I love our Dome and don’t need this kind of emotional distress while I’m busy trying to be the 12th man!

:lol: No need to distress, The Bond between the State and the Falcons wont be paid off until 2015-2020, So you looking at around 5-6 years before we could get a new Stadium.

Im kinda excited to see what they would do with the new stadium / Dome

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Sorry guys but I don't live in Atlanta and don't really know the layout. I've been to a few Braves games and can drive straight to Turner Field but I couldn't tell you where it is located as far as North, East, South, West goes. Where is it located compared to the Dome and Phillips Arena?

turner field is located in the center of the 285 loop. The dome is a few miles northwest of that but still close to the center. the further south you go in atlanta the less the quality of restauraunts, bars, towns, etcc... get. as you go north you seem to find a much better area.

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Since I live South of Atlanta and drive 3+ hours to Atlanta each game day - I'm not opposed to them moving South. It would also get them closer to the airport - which is better for incoming visitors to the dome. But, no matter where it is - I'll be there if I am at all able.

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the falcons need to stay downtown like every other major sports team is in atlanta. Braves, Hawks, Falcons and Yellowjackets all play in or around downtown. Leave it like that. How does the duluth falcons sound or the gwinnett falcons, or the south atlanta falcons..NO!!!stay in the city of atlanta.

They would not be renamed if their home stadium moves to the burbs.

It's not the East Rutherford Jets/Giants, Orchard Park Bills, Landover Redskins, Irving Cowboys. etc. :rolleyes:

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They would not be renamed if their home stadium moves to the burbs.

It's not the East Rutherford Jets/Giants, Orchard Park Bills, Landover Redskins, Irving Cowboys. etc. :rolleyes:

yea thats true since you brought up those teams, but still, atlanta is the perfect location because its right in the middle. if it moves to the north, people from the south would have to travel even further to get to a game, and same goes for it if moves to the south, the people on the northside would have to travel even farther. Downtown, everyone travels just about the same distance.

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Landover Redskins?

You mean the Potomac River Basin Indigenous Persons! :lol:

Haha, you're surrounded by them aren't you? Hey man I was up that way a few weeks back when we played the Panthers, and I absolutely did not want to miss the game. I thought about asking on here where you folks in the Potomac river basin watch Falcons games if they're not televised locally, but I managed to find a place in Arlington since our game was on at the same time as theirs.

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This article isn't talking about moving the facility south to the suburbs. The plan includes moving the Falcon's next facility a couple of blocks south on the GWCC campus. Basically, a new stadium in the same general area. Also, I doubt it will be another dome, as domes are now obsolete. You can bet the next Falcon's stadium will have a retractable roof.

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North would make my trip even longer, 500 miles per game s already enough.

Here you go, they could put a new dome where that demolished Ford plant was, and move the airport.

That is how our government works, no?

The old Ford place is about to be like an outside mall/shopping/eating/hotel area that will host people arriving from the airport.

Please dont move the stadium north. I dont want to fight north atlanta traffic or go to the suburbs to see a game. Sports should have a downtown feel, not a sweater draped over your J Crew collar shirt feel.

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