County contemplates deal with Arthur Blank


mlsatlanta-announcement-0296A proposed deal between DeKalb County and Arthur Blank could bring major league soccer franchise Atlanta United FC to the county, making it the only soccer complex in the region.

According to a memorandum on the proposed agreement, DeKalb County will spend roughly $12 million and relinquish 41 acres of government land for Atlanta United FC to build a $30 million soccer complex at the intersection of Kensington Road and Memorial Drive near Interstate 285.

Soccer franchise owner Blank plans to build a 3,500-seat stadium, three outdoor practice fields and a two-story corporate headquarters on land behind the DeKalb County Jail. The proposal states four additional fields and an indoor training facility could be built later.

DeKalb County press secretary Burke Brennan said, “The action taken by the DeKalb County Board of Commissioners on July 28 is part of the process toward reaching a potential agreement to locate the Atlanta United headquarters and training complex in DeKalb County.”

He added, “Our discussions have been positive and cooperative, and we are encouraged and excited by their interest to potentially become part of the future of ‘downtown DeKalb’ and the revitalization of Memorial Drive. We look forward to continuing these discussions; no definitive agreement is in place at this time.”

The deal is estimated to bring 123 construction-related jobs with 10 percent going to DeKalb residents.

Commissioner Nancy Jester said she has concerns about the matter.

In a statement released July 30, Jester asked, “How reasonable is the county’s expected land preparation cost of $3 million to $5 million? Based on the requirements presented to the board, the preparations include demolition, entrance construction, detention ponds, irrigation systems, and sod.”

Jester continued, “Why is the county proposing to use money from the general fund to pay for this? [This] is not the correct fund for this, the parks and recreation fund?”

Under the proposal, the total cost for land preparation and demolition of 40 acres is an estimated $3 million to $5 million. Additionally, $7 million would be paid to Blank over three years beginning on the date the county’s parks department occupies its new offices as annual facility use payments. The annual payment would be $2.33 million for the first three years and then $10 per year for the remainder of the ground lease.

Blank and Atlanta United FC  would be exempt from paying property taxes, and permitting fees for the soccer complex would be waived.

The county would also have to seek funding for pedestrian improvements from the soccer complex to the Kensington MARTA Station and demolish the current animal shelter to allow Blank to consult on other compatible uses.

The stadium also would be used to host the Georgia Soccer State Cup Tournament, U.S. Youth Soccer Region 3 regional tournaments and the U.S. Youth Soccer President’s Cup.

Under the plan, DeKalb County Parks and Recreation Department would be able to use the property for lacrosse, 3v3 soccer, rugby, field soccer, kickball and ultimate Frisbee. 

The proposed agreement states Blank would be required to pay the county 15 percent of revenue for naming rights and branded events held at the complex.

Ownership of the land and facilities would revert to the county after 30 years.

Atlanta United will share space with the Atlanta Falcons for its official games in a

downtown Atlanta stadium, which is under construction. The team would use the stadium in DeKalb for practice and training. 

Approximately 83 people would work at the team’s onsite corporate headquarters in 2017, growing to 123 people in 2018 with salaries that average $150,000 per year.

If approved, the DeKalb deal would start in Jan 17, 2016.

DeKalb County commissioners have been asked to vote on the agreement on Aug. 4.


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2 thoughts on “County contemplates deal with Arthur Blank

  • August 4, 2015 at 9:18 am

    Woohoo! We get the facility after 30 years. Office space and a 3500 seat stadium. Ga Dome (football, soccer, concerts, etc.) being replaced after 23 years. Turner Field (baseball, America’s pastime) being abandoned after 20 years. Plenty of “studies” on taxpayer subsidized sports complexes are out there. Maybe the proponents should have read a few…

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