It seemed like the opening of a Super Bowl halftime show. Flames shot in the air as the Falcons presented plans for their new stadium on a 3-D Jumbotron on the ground where the Georgia Dome, the World Congress Center and Phillips Arena meet.
Mayor Kasim Reed, NFL Commissioner Roger Goddell and team owner Arthur Blank broke out gleaming shovels and broke ground for the Falcons' billion-dollar home.
"This is a great night for the city of Atlanta," said Reed, who added that the new stadium, with a retractable roof, will be able to attract major sports events. "We're now competing for college football bowl championships, competing for the Super Bowl, we won [a Major League Soccer] team."
Not everyone is cheering for the stadium.
Nearly $300 million will come from a hotel-motel tax.
Critics have complained the public had little input and they've said the money would be better spent on rebuilding the city's aging infrastructure.
Blank said the stadium will inject tens of millions of dollars into the local economy and help train people who live nearby for construction jobs.
Blank also insisted that the team followed proper procedures.
"We went through the pros and cons of it. All the appropriate betting was done by the city, the state, the governor, City Council," Blank said.
The new stadium is scheduled to open in 2017.
The new Major League Soccer team, also owned by Blank, will play the first game there.
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Tuesday, April 20 2010 11:21 PM EDT2010-04-21 03:21:00 GMT
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