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The stadium effect

What happens when your neighbor is a multimillion dollar shrine to sports

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The Falcons, which have helped fund parks and children's programs in nearby communities, have pledged to help surrounding neighborhoods, though they're focusing first on the deal with city and state officials before looking at community benefits.

"A new stadium will enhance the perception of the state, region and city, help drive economic development, and cement our franchise's stability well beyond its current ownership," Rich McKay, the Falcons president and CEO, says in a statement to CL. "Our commitment is to go further. We will seek to positively impact the surrounding community with our time, our talent and other resources as we plan for the new multipurpose stadium and beyond."

It would seem likely that the team or Blank, whom community leaders have praised and called a good neighbor, would help build Mims Park, a 16-acre green space envisioned for mostly vacant parcels on the border of Vine City and English Avenue. The project is being pushed by Rodney Mims Cook, a well-heeled and well-connected Buckhead booster of classical monuments who built the Millenium Gate, Atlantic Station's Arc de Triomphe.

Such an investment would jibe with Blank's past philanthropic contributions and corporate ethos: a targeted investment that could reap dividends, rather than a one-time lump of cash to be tapped by civic groups — something community leaders say they wouldn't want.

"I think it's inevitable that these two communities will be transformed, because it's an embarrassment to the city," Motley says. "If you don't change it, it's going to continue to happen. You're going to have this kind of idleness."

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