Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Stalled negotiations prompt officials to consider alternate Falcons stadium location

Posted By on Wed, Jul 24, 2013 at 11:28 AM

In the wake of stalled negotiations with nearby churches, officials involved in choosing the new Atlanta Falcons stadium location are turning their attention to a second possible site.

With an August 1 deadline quickly approaching, city and state officials and team representatives are reportedly taking a closer look at plans to build the $1 billion multi-use facility at the corner of Northside Drive and Ivan Allen Jr. Boulevard, about a half-mile north of the Georgia Dome.

Saporta Report points out the Georgia World Congress Center Authority's Stadium Development Committee will meet today and is expected to vote on starting "due diligence work" on the alternate site.

The so-called "south site" - an area of land south of the Georgia Dome that's home to two churches and parking lots - has been touted as the preferred location because it's closer to two MARTA stations and the Georgia World Congress Center. But negotiations over the past few months to purchase property from Friendship Baptist Church and Mt. Vernon Baptist Church have been unsuccesful. Both the state and city have been involved in the process to acquire the land needed to build the stadium south of the Georgia Dome. But they haven't struck a deal.

Friendship Baptist Church and City Hall - in what's become a rather public and somewhat contentious discussion - have butted heads over a potential sale price. Reed has publicly stated that the city has offered the 151-year-old church $15.5 million for the stadium property, far short of its $24.5 million asking price.

For a while, it appeared that the city was dead set on making the south site a reality. A leaked memo from the city's chief operating officer Duriya Farooqui floated the idea for relocating Martin Luther King Jr. Drive and nestling the stadium up against Friendship Baptist Church.

According to the AJC, which spoke with Falcons officials, the move to focus attention on the alternate location doesn't mean that the south site is a no-go. Kim Shreckengost, executive vice president of AMB Group, the Falcons' parent company, tells the paper that the decision is "one of prudence."

"We felt it was in our best interests and consistent with the agreement with the (GWCCA) to go ahead and start looking at the north site," Shreckengost said.

The decision regarding the stadium's location is one of the last remaining hurdles for the controversial project. With one week ago, it'll be interesting to see whether the two churches decide to take the money on the table or not.

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