Hawks ‘set to begin’ Philips Arena renovation today

21 June 2017

The Atlanta City Council late Monday voted to approve the deal to renovate Philips Arena, and the Hawks will waste no time getting started.

Asked when the work will begin, Hawks spokesman Garin Narain responded Monday night: “Construction is set to begin tomorrow.”

Philips Arena hosted its final event until next basketball season Saturday and will be closed for approximately the next four months for the first phase of renovations.

The arena, which typically hosts about 170 events per year, is slated to reopen in time for the start of the Hawks’ 2017-18 regular-season home schedule. The NBA hasn’t announced the schedule yet.

The $192.5 million remaking of the 18-year-old arena will be spread over two Hawks off-seasons, ultimately resulting in an array of new amenities, improved basketball sight-lines, connected concourses and, perhaps most notably, removal of the wall of suites on one side of the building.

The first phase, to be completed in October, will include the renovation of about 10,000 square feet of premium club spaces and the demolition of about 100,000 square feet of interior space, according to the Hawks’ building-permit application.

A 46-page memorandum of understanding spells out the terms of the deal to renovate the arena. Among the provisions of the MOU.

Public dollars will fund $142.5 million of the renovation cost, mostly from car rental taxes collected at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. The Hawks will be responsible for $50 million.

A facility-admissions surcharge of $3 will be tacked on to the cost of tickets for all events in the arena and will go, in part, toward funding traffic management and future capital repairs and replacements. The Hawks organization will be responsible for any cost overruns.

The Hawks will enter into a non-relocation agreement obligating the team to play in the arena through June 30, 2046. If the team relocates before then, it would have to pay damages of $200 million, plus the balance on the arena’s bonds.

The City of Atlanta commits to “use commercially reasonable best efforts to facilitate the redevelopment of the area adjacent to the arena, an area currently referred to as the ‘Gulch.’” The Atlanta-Fulton County Recreation Authority will continue to own the arena.

Hawks principal owner Tony Ressler said in a statement that the City Council’s vote Monday “shows the enthusiasm we all have for making Philips Arena and its surrounding areas a sports and entertainment destination for residents and visitors alike.”

The renovations are slated for completion at the start of the 2018-19 season, coinciding with the 50th anniversary of the Hawks’ move to Atlanta.