As of Thursday, February 14, 2013
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Gwinnett Daily Post
ATLANTA — The Atlanta Falcons will consider moving to a suburban location if the NFL team does not strike a deal to build a new downtown stadium, one of the team's top executives said.
The team would have no choice but to consider a suburban site if negotiations on the downtown Atlanta site break down, Falcons President and CEO Rich McKay said.
McKay made the comments during an Atlanta City Council meeting Wednesday.
It's not the first time the team has raised the specter of leaving downtown. McKay says this time, the idea is not a threat -- and the team intends to have a new stadium somewhere by 2017.
"We would have no choice but to consider pursuing another option in metro Atlanta" if negotiations break down, 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."
The team's current lease with the Georgia Dome downtown is nearing an end, and team officials say they prefer to build a new stadium instead of making improvements to the dome.
State and local officials are considering plans to use a special hotel tax to help finance a new retractable-roof stadium in downtown Atlanta.
Concern that Falcons owner Arthur Blank could use his own cash to build a less expensive open-air stadium in Atlanta's suburbs is intensifying. State leaders fear a flashy new suburban facility would become a formidable competitor to the state-run Georgia Dome.