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Lawmakers to consider new Falcons stadium

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ATLANTA -

A proposed new stadium for the Atlanta Falcons will be an issue for state lawmakers when they go back into session on Monday. The General Assembly will need to approve a key step for the stadium deal to work.

Two decades after the Georgia Dome opened, plans to replace it require a vote at the state Capitol.

State lawmakers will have to OK an increase in the debt limit for the Georgia World Congress Center Authority from $200 million to $300 million.

State Rep. Joe Wilkinson (R-Sandy Springs) says he sees long-term benefits for the state with a new retractable roof stadium paid for largely by the Falcons.

"I want to see us keep the SEC Championship game. I want us to bring a Super Bowl back. I want us to have the national football college championship game here. I want us to have Major League Soccer and also convention," said Wilkinson.

But the House committee chairman says lawmakers will have to be convinced of the need for a new stadium.

"I talked to many fellow legislators who do not believe that the case has been made yet. So they have work to do. They going to have to do some real hard campaigning," said Wilkinson.

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed is sounding a note of confidence for a new deal. He spoke Thursday to the Atlanta Press Club.

"I think we'll get a deal done on the stadium. We'll have a world-class stadium in the city of Atlanta," Reed said Thursday in a speech.

The mayor emphasized that visitors would pay most of the public portion of the project through the city's hotel/motel tax and he dismissed suggestions that the tax proceeds could be used elsewhere, saying that,  law, the funds are not designated for other uses.

"It's not like the Georgia General Assembly would have authorized 300 million for other infrastructure projects. It's possible. I don't think politically they would," said Reed.

For now, the Falcons and the World Congress Center are considering finalists to design a stadium in hopes a deal will bring a new facility with 2017.

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