A trio of Am Law 100 firms have landed lead roles on the accord between the Atlanta Falcons and the city of Atlanta regarding financing for a new $1 billion retractable-roof stadium that will replace the 71,200-seat Georgia Dome.
The Falcons have been vocal about trying to strike a deal to replace the 20-year-old Dome. The possibility that the team might move to another city, such as Los Angeles, if a deal for a new downtown facility did not get done had been mentioned.
Last week, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed—a former Holland & Knight partner—and Falcons owner Arthur Blank, the billionaire co-founder of The Home Depot, announced a plan under which the city will issue bonds backed by taxes on hotel visitors to contribute $200 million toward the construction of a new stadium for the Falcons.
The Falcons, along with the National Football League, had already agreed to pay the remaining $800 million needed to fund the stadium’s construction. Blank and the team have now agreed to assume responsibility for $50 million in additional infrastructure costs associated with building the new stadium, as well as to cover potential cost overruns.
The deal also will see Blank’s family foundation contribute another $15 million in private funds to finance projects in neighborhoods in the vicinity of the Falcons’ new home.
Advising the team on the stadium deal are a team of lawyers from the franchise’s longtime outside counsel at King & Spalding led by M&A co-head Michael Egan III. The firm has represented both Blank and The Home Depot on a variety of matters over the years, including the former’s $545 million purchase of the Falcons in 2001.
Since then, King & Spalding has represented the Falcons on sponsorship and licensing agreements, IP and trademark matters, and even the various off-field legal troubles of its former star quarterback Michael Vick several years ago.
Besides Egan, other King & Spalding lawyers working on the current stadium negotiations for the team are construction transactional practice leader Scott Greer, and municipal finance partners William Holby and Woodrow Vaughan III, all of whom are based in Atlanta.
Leading the legal team for the city of Atlanta on the stadium matter are city attorney Cathy Hampton, deputy city attorney for finance Peter Andrews, and deputy city attorney for infrastructure Karen Thomas. Outside counsel to the city is being provided by Locke Lord finance, banking and real estate chair Louis Cohen in Chicago.
Invest Atlanta, the city’s economic development arm, will issue the bonds that will be used to finance the public’s portion of the stadium’s construction. Rosalind Rubens Newell, general counsel for Invest Atlanta and a former of counsel at McKenna Long & Aldridge, is handling matters in-house along with senior counsel E. Steven Thompson.
Hunton & Williams capital markets and public finance partner Douglass Selby in Atlanta is serving as outside counsel to Invest Atlanta on the stadium transaction, which the city itself claims will make it a candidate to host future Super Bowls and could also help it lure an expansion Major League Soccer franchise.