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Falcons president: team could move out of downtown if deal goes bust

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ATLANTA -

Atlanta Falcons executives are warning city officials that the football team will look to move out of downtown if a deal for a new stadium is not struck.

Residents packed a hearing at Atlanta City Hall on Wednesday to discuss the proposed billion-dollar stadium.

Speaking for team owner Arthur Blank, Falcons President Rick McKay said that the club intends to play in a new stadium in 2017. McKay said that the team is offering the city a good deal by picking up the majority of the cost.

"We would have no choice but to consider pursuing another option elsewhere in metro Atlanta. That would be our option. We don't -- please let don't anybody say, ‘Oh, that's a threat, oh, that's not right.' That's just the reality of what we have to do as our lease is going to end," McKay said.

McCay later told reporters that if the deal isn't set "then clearly we will look in the metropolitan area and see where an opportunity may exist."

He said that the Falcons have not yet looked at any specific sites yet in the metro area. He said that commitment is to the downtown site for now.

McKay said that the team is offering the city a good deal by picking up the majority of the cost.

The possible deal would require $200 million in public funds, while the Falcons would put in $800 million plus at least another $50 million to retire leftover debt on the Georgia Dome, which would be torn down.

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed's administration, which backs the deal, lined up a host of civic proponents who, for more than two hours, explained why the new stadium would be a good choice.

"There has been lots of discussion about use of public funds. The only taxes that have ever been discussed to fund a new stadium or this transaction have been hotel-motel taxes, which are charged to visitors," Atlanta Chief Operation Officer Duriya Farooqui said.

FOX 5 previously reported that Mayor Reed held private discussions with every council member. He told them that he needs an answer in a matter of weeks and not months.

Many of those in attendance at the public hearing called for more inclusion so nearby communities like Vine City, Castleberry Hill and others will see more money and jobs as a result.

"So we would like to be included in this process, have the opportunity to bring our team to the table," said Atlanta resident Rodney Mullin.

Other said that the stadium affects their quality of living.

"That stadium will mean that our doors will rattle, our foundations may be moved, construction may shut our roads. We will continue to face the tailgating and non-compliance issues that we face today on gypsy lots," said Robin Gagnon, a downtown resident.

City Hall says they're going to have a number of public forums again, but those dates have not been determined yet.

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