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Doraville says no to new Falcons stadium on GM site
The Doraville City Council has voted unanimously to oppose building a new stadium for the Atlanta Falcons on the site of the former General Motors plant.
DeKalb County commissioners last week green-lighted CEO Burrell Ellis to pursue negotiations for a public-private partnership to redevelop the 160-acre site, where GM closed an auto-assembly plant last year. Later, Ellis announced the county had discussed a variety of uses there including retail, residential, commercial and recreational facilities. County officials would not confirm whether a new football stadium was in the mix.
Doraville council members were not so coy. The resolution approved Monday night “reject[ed] conceptual plans for a new Falcons stadium,” according to a news release issued today. “The move follows a plan put forward by DeKalb County officials that would put a new stadium in the heart of Doraville at the former General Motors plant site.”
Ellis and other DeKalb officials privately briefed Doraville council members weeks ago on plans for the site. The meetings were arranged with two members at a time so there would never be a council majority present, which would require opening the meetings to the public.
According to the council’s resolution:
After much consideration and input from the citizens and business people of the City of Doraville, the Mayor and Council unanimously agree that a multi-use stadium facility is not in the best interest of the City and surrounding communities.
A joint statement by the city’s leadership added:
Since CEO Ellis has taken office our relationship and communication with the County has never been better. We just have a different vision in this particular instance of what the best vision is for Doraville. We have no doubts that both governments in partnership with the private sector will work together for a development that everyone can get excited about. …
We have lost a massive amount of jobs, businesses and revenue. All these factors have created a perfect economic storm that has left the City reeling, but we remain resilient and more importantly focused. Make no mistakes: We need to spur this redevelopment, but we must do it in a way that is sustainable and consistent with our goals and planning. If we do it right this site will not only be an economic blessing for Doraville and the metro region but a catalyst for the City’s revitalization efforts. We are certain that our vision, rather than a stadium, will accomplish that.
Three weeks ago, Doraville citizens lined up at a town hall meeting to voice opposition to a stadium. Several said NFL games would attract crime and traffic, and public ownership of the property would take it off the city’s tax rolls.
“The idea of the stadium is a recipe for a tsunami 20 times a year and then the cleanup afterward,” one resident said.
Many expressed fears that the county government’s involvement in redevelopment there would amount to a deannexation that would leave the city with little or no control over use of the site.
Studies have found large stadiums do not provide an economic benefit to the communities they’re built in, several residents said, and that they tend to suck revenue out of surrounding businesses.
Others predicted residents’ quality of life would take a hit and many residents would eventually leave Doraville.
If a stadium is built there, one resident said, “we can basically roll the sidewalks up and say we’re done with being a city.”