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Developer pitches new Atlanta Falcons stadium
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Falcons vs. Rams

When: 1 p.m. Sunday

Where: Georgia Dome, Atlanta

TV, radio: FOX (WAGA-5); 550-AM, 92.9 FM

Web site:

ATLANTA — The Atlanta Falcons have had "preliminary discussions" with a developer that wants to build a $1 billion retractable roof stadium at the sprawling site of a closed General Motors plant in suburban Atlanta, the team’s president said Wednesday.

"We’d owe it to ourselves to do the due diligence, to see what would be involved," said Rich McKay, the team’s president. "It’s certainly a fantastic location."

The Sembler Co. has proposed building the stadium on a 90-acre plot at the closed factory site, said Luke Howe, an aide to Doraville’s mayor. The rest of the site, which is in Atlanta’s northeast suburbs, would be developed into retail and residential properties.

GM closed the 60-year-old plant in September and has since considered proposals from companies seeking to redevelop the 165-acre site. GM spokesman Dan Flores said the company has narrowed its options to one finalist, but he would not name the company.

"Certainly, we are interested in completing a deal," he said. "But speculating on when a deal may be done and what the property may be used for is speculation at this time."

Sembler, known for building mixed-use developments around the Southeast, would not confirm whether a stadium was part of its pitch. But spokesman Angelo Fuster said Sembler has "a very creative proposal before them and we’re discussing it with GM."

The Falcons are bound by a lease to play in the Georgia Dome in downtown Atlanta through 2020, but team owner Arthur Blank said in 2006 he wanted to start negotiating a new downtown Atlanta stadium.

"The dome is beginning to show its age," Blank told The Associated Press at the time. "We need to think about this far enough out so we can make a thoughtful decision."

McKay said the team has since made some progress in talks with Atlanta officials, and he said the team will continue to discuss a new stadium in downtown. But he said the Falcons must also consider other options.

The proposal has Doraville’s officials, who would have to sign off on any zoning change, abuzz about the possibility of becoming the new home for the Falcons.

"It’s very possible," Doraville Mayor Ray Jenkins said of the city’s chances of landing the new stadium.

He said the plant’s site would make an enticing home for the Falcons.

The development has ready access to Atlanta’s public transportation system and sits near the intersection of two of the city’s busiest highways.

"Location," said Jenkins. "It’s the best location anywhere."

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