Jones praises Blank's stadium efforts


ATLANTA -- While Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank prepared for a groundbreaking ceremony for the new $1.2 billion stadium on Monday, another NFL owner praised Blank's vision in bringing a new sports and entertainment venue to Atlanta.

Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones can appreciate Blank's effort, considering he opened a first-class stadium of his own back on May 2009. Jones broke ground on "Jerry's World'' in September 2005.

"Having, relatively speaking, just gone through the process of building a new stadium, although it has been five years since we've opened, but I know the kind of risk-taking that's involved by the ownership to do it right and get a new stadium,'' Jones said upon arriving for Tuesday's spring meetings. "The Falcons and Arthur Blank are doing it right. Rich McKay, they've looked under every stone to see the best way to have the Falcons and have the fans of the Atlanta Falcons to have a state-of-the-art stadium.

"I'm particularly impressed -- I'm on the board of the National Collegiate Hall of Fame -- and I know that's going to be almost literally joining the new stadium. And you put that with the Martin Luther King museum and the Coca-Cola museum and all the great tradition of the South and what Atlanta means. ... You put that all together and it's going to be quite a statement not only for sports, but for the NFL.''

The new stadium will open in 2017 and Blank said his new Major League Soccer team will be the first to play there. The Falcons will start the '17 season inside the new stadium.

"So to me, what Arthur Blank has done here is bigger than the stadium,'' Jones continued. "It's big for Georgia. It's big for Atlanta. And it will inspire teams that play in that and the events that are in it for a long time.''