Falcons' stadium remains on track

ATLANTA --- The Atlanta Falcons are moving forward with plans for a new outdoor stadium.

The Georgia World Congress Center Authority agreed Tuesday to a "memo of understanding" with the Falcons, the next step in negotiations to build a 65,000-seat facility just north of the team's current home, the Georgia Dome.

Both sides said the agreement does not mean a deal has been reached, but allows them to begin discussions about the business relationship that would be involved in whatever plan is developed.

Falcons officials have made it clear they want a new open-air stadium, saying that is the only way to stay competitive financially.

They have rejected plans for a renovated Georgia Dome or adding a retractable roof to it, pointing out that 22 teams have moved into new or completely rebuilt stadiums since the dome opened in 1992.

Preliminary plans for a new stadium include 7,500 club seats and 110 suites, plus the ability to add up to 10,000 temporary seats.

The cost is estimated at $700 million. The Georgia Dome cost $214 million.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, during a visit last season, made it clear a new stadium would be needed if Atlanta wants to land another Super Bowl. The Georgia Dome played host to the game in 1994 and 2000, but two bids to bring the game back to the city have been rejected.

Officials with the Georgia World Congress Center Authority, which runs the current stadium as well as the massive convention center and nearby Centennial Olympic Park, have said any deal must include enough funding to maintain the Georgia Dome.

Dome facts

Year opened: 1992

Cost: $214 million

Permanent seats: 71,250

Suites: 173

Club seats: 4,600

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