Atlanta Officials Secure Deal With Church For Falcons' Preferred Stadium Site
Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed yesterday announced that city officials have reached a $19.5M deal with Friendship Baptist Church, "one of two churches key to the new Falcons stadium being built on the preferred 'south site,'" according to Katie Leslie of the ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION. Reed said that the church "must ratify the agreement with its congregation." He then "called upon the Georgia World Congress Center to re-open talks with Mt. Vernon Baptist Church." His announcement "comes days after the GWCCA said it walked away from negotiations" with Mt. Vernon after it rejected a $6.2M offer. Mt. Vernon is "arguably the more crucial piece to the south site location." Reed did not say whether the city has "identified private funds, such as additional dollars from Falcons owner Arthur Blank, that could help secure Mount Vernon." However, Reed said that he has asked former Atlanta Mayor and U.N. Ambassador Andrew Young to "mediate talks between the church and state officials should they resume." He said that the Falcons "should support his efforts for the stadium to be built on the south location, but stopped short of calling them to fund any portion of the Mount Vernon deal." The Falcons "quickly issued a statement applauding the deal the mayor struck on their behalf" (ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION, 8/7).
NOT A DIME MORE? The GWCCA yesterday reiterated that its $6.2M offer to Mt. Vernon was "based on the highest appraisal received for the church's property," and said that it "is not allowed to offer more than appraised value under state law." In Atlanta, Leslie & Tucker note there "were not similar constraints in negotiations for Friendship because the funds would come from private money from the Falcons organization." Reed said, "For two years, my commitment to the Falcons organization has been unwavering. So this (suggestion of) me needing the Falcons? You ought to reverse that. It’s mutual. I believe in mutual respect." Leslie & Tucker write Reed "has some leverage on his side." Reed noted that he and the Atlanta City Council must approve a $3M community benefits plan "before any bonds will be issued for stadium construction." City officials are "pushing for the southern location due to its proximity to two MARTA stations and a potential future multi-model station" (ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION, 8/7).