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Falcons release details of minority-owned stadium contract plan

The Atlanta Falcons reached a deal Friday with state and city officials on how to ensure at least 31 percent of its new billion-dollar stadium construction awards go to minority or women-owned firms.

The team’s “Equal Business Opportunity Plan” sets certification and reporting standards for contractors on the downtown retractable-roof stadium, one of the biggest economic development projects in recent Atlanta history.

“From the inception of this project, we’ve always stated that we had a commitment to equal opportunity,” said Falcons president Rich McKay. “And this lays out a thorough and transparent process not just for us, but for our contractors to follow.”

The participation of minority- and women-owned businesses in the design and construction of the stadium was a key sticking point in the Atlanta City Council’s decision to use bonds backed by $200 million in hotel/motel taxes to help finance the stadium’s construction.

Councilman Ivory Lee Young Jr., who early on called for the Falcons to develop such a plan, said he’s encouraged by the team’s written commitment to inclusion. Young represents District 3 where the new stadium is expected to be built.

“It’s not just the profit margins of the contract; it’s the meaningful engagement of minority and female businesses that will carry a legacy that outlives the life of the stadium,” he said Friday.

Under the deal, the value of the contracts — not the number of workers — will count toward the goal, with nearly one of every three dollars going toward the minority- or female-owned businesses. Those companies must be certified by Atlanta’s equal business opportunity program.

City and state officials will monitor and occasionally audit compliance, while the contractors will be required to report details of their work quarterly. If any of the businesses “intentionally or recklessly” report false data, they’ll be fired, according to the contract.

Falcons owner Arthur Blank said this week that he’s confident the 31 percent quota will be exceeded: “But I want to make sure that we create the opportunities for folks living around the stadium in those communities.”

Kansas City-based 360 Architecture was selected last month to design the facility at a price of up to $35 million, and Falcons officials said a general contractor could be picked within two weeks.

Last week the team notified the five finalists for that lucrative deal: Holder Construction of Atlanta; Arizona-based Hunt Construction Group; Turner Construction Co. and Skanska USA, both with corporate offices in New York; and Bethesda, Md.-based Clark Construction Group. Skanska USA and Turner also have Atlanta offices.

The stadium, set to open in 2017, is to be funded by the Falcons, the NFL and proceeds from the sales of personal seat licenses. Additional hotel-motel tax funds will go toward financing, maintaining and operating the stadium over the next 30 years.

Falcons, city and state officials have not announced the site for the new stadium. They prefer a location immediately south of the Georgia Dome, but remain in negotiations with landowners, including two churches there. If a deal isn’t struck by August, team officials will build on another site a half-mile north of the Dome. The Georgia Dome ultimately will be demolished.

Staff writer Tim Tucker contributed to this report.

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