ATLANTA - Although it was believed that after the Georgia Dome's demolition was complete the space would be used for additional parking for Mercedes-Benz, Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank announced on Friday that the space is going to be converted into a green space that doubles up as a parking lot on game days.
Home Depot, who will be sponsoring this new development that is going to be named "The Home Depot Backyard", and Mercedes-Benz Stadium are collaborating to put in a new green space where the Georgia Dome stands today.
Blank told 11Alive that on game days, the "Backyard" will be used for parking.
"During game days, when we're going to have 71,000 folks in the building, that area will be a tailgating parking area. It's the other 300 days a year, we find many stadiums across the nation where they are-- when the stadiums are great, they're great. When the stadiums are filled, they're filled. When they're empty, they're empty. We want this whole area to be alive when there's no activity within the stadium," he said.
Blank said the area would provide for roughly 770 parking and tailgating spots.
The new 13-acre space will cost $55 million. It will open in 2018, in time for Super Bowl LIII at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
In addition to the green space, there will be a 30,000 square foot terrace that will offer a 360-degree view of Atlanta's skyline and, of course, the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium. There will also be a new high rise 4-star hotel that will cost $400 million, and agreements with a developer are underway. This should add more than a 100,00 new attendees per year for future events.
Another project mentioned were upgrades to Centennial Olympic Park where another 3 acres of green space will be added.
The "Backyard" is a strategic way to keep the area around the stadium buzzing everyday of the year and not just on event days. It also serves as a connection to the West End, or Vine City, and is part of a bigger project of revitalizing the area that has has been one of the more marginalized neighborhoods in Atlanta.
"If we do that and are unsuccessful of being part of the revitalization of the west side, then we've failed," Blank told 11Alive, adding the revitalization has always been just as important to him as constructing the $1.6 billion stadium. The Home Depot has partnered with the Atlanta Beltline, Habitat for Humanity, HouseProud and many others as a way to give back the the area just west of the stadium.
Mayor Kasim Reed stressed how the city is trying to control displacement in the area and provide services such as financial services center and a cap on property taxes for 20 years for residents in Vine City or English Ave.
"I think people are taking notice of the fact that the stadium is being done differently than any stadium in the United State of America in terms of how it is embracing the community," Reed said.
The chairman of the Georgia World Congress Center, David Allman, said,
"We are confident that the end results will serve the greater good as we help Atlanta shine as the city takes center stage during a series of high profile events taking place on the Georgia World Congress Center campus including the College Football Championship, the 2019 Super Bowl that Arthur was so instrumental in bringing, and the 2019 Men's Final Four. No city has ever had that trifecta. All of these projects aid in our mission to be globally recognized as the number one convention, sports and entertainment destination in the world. None of it is possible without great partners like you. This new green space will be a game changing addition to our campus and we're happy to partner with you all to make it a reality."
Not only did Allman have praise to give Blank's invaluable role in bringing the Super Bowl to Atlanta in 2019 , but Mayor Reed had quite the highest praise for the Falcons owner:
"It has been a privilege to work with him, to learn form him," Reed said. "Arthur Blank is a civic treasure, an iconic businessman, a great sportsman and a tireless and selfless advocate for his city and the less fortunate around us. And as my gift to my successor, I will leave in the second right drawer of my desk, Arthur M. Blank's personal phone number. He is the person that you need to call when the city needs help. I joke all of the time, but I mean it in my heart. He is Atlanta's own Bruce Wayne."
11Alive's Alec McQuade contributed to this story.
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