Hawks, Atlanta will spend $192.5 million to redo Philips Arena

[private]Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed announced Tuesday the city will spend $142.5 million to redesign and renovate Philips Arena for the Atlanta Hawks and their billionaire owner, Tony Ressler.

The redo of Philips, which was built less than 20 years ago, will provide “a home that is worthy of their extraordinary play” for the Hawks, Reed said.KasimReedHawks1nov2016

“We are utterly committed to the city of Atlanta and its downtown area,” Ressler said at a city hall news conference where he was accompanied by Hawks Coach Mike Budenholzer and players Dwight Howard, Kyle Korver, and Kent Bazemore.  “Trying to win a championship is a commitment of this franchise.”

As their part of the deal, the Hawks will chip in $50 million for the renovation project and pledge to stay in Atlanta until at least 2046.

If the NBA franchise leaves town any sooner than that, they would owe the city a $200 million payout, Reed said.

The generous gift of city tax funds was signaled by Reed more than two years ago, after the mayor was stung by the Atlanta Braves’ decision to follow the money and move to a new stadium in Cobb County.

Reed said then the city would be willing to pay as much as $150 million to keep the Hawks in downtown Atlanta, and that turned out to be just about the amount being paid to Ressler, who started demanding a city-financed redo as soon as he bought majority interest in the Hawks last year.

Philips, which first opened in 1999, will be rebuilt over a period of two years, but the construction work will be done during the offseason so that the Hawks aren’t required to play in another arena temporarily.

The bulk of the money — $110 million — will come from the extension of the city’s car rental tax that was approved by the General Assembly last session.  The city will contribute $12.5 million from the sale of Turner Field to Georgia State University, a transaction set for a Dec. 31 closing.

Reed’s announcement completes a grand slam of sorts for Atlanta’s three professional sports franchises.  The Hawks, Braves, and Atlanta Falcons will be receiving more than $1 billion combined over the next 30 years in public money for their venues.

In addition to the $142.5 million Atlanta will pay to the Hawks, the city has also committed $200 million in hotel-motel tax funds to help pay for construction of the Falcons’ new stadium.

That same tax source will provide another $200 million to $250 million over the next 30 years to pay for maintenance and operation of the Falcons stadium. The state also kicked in $40 million for a new parking deck.

Cobb County is spending nearly $400 million on the Braves’ new stadium.

© 2016 by The Georgia Report

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Tags: atlanta hawks , Kasim Reed , Philips Arena