Atlanta, Falcons reach agreement to buy church property

ATLANTA — The city of Atlanta and the Atlanta Falcons have reached an agreement with a church to buy land the football team wants in order to build a new stadium.

The city, negotiating for the Falcons, agreed to pay $19.5 million for Friendship Baptist Church’s property. The Falcons will fund the purchase, according to the city.

The city and the Falcons still need to buy the land of Mount Vernon Baptist Church, if the teams wants to pursue the so-called “south site.” City officials prefer the south site, in part because it is sits nearby two Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority train stations.

“I am pleased with the solid progress on the construction of a new stadium for the Atlanta Falcons in the heart of our city,” Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed said in a statement. “Most important of all, we have kept our promise to treat the members of Friendship Baptist Church with dignity and respect and reach an agreement that is fair and reasonable for all parties. With
both the south and north site as possible locations for the new stadium, factors such as transportation, neighborhood impact, and infrastructure needs can be better weighed and balanced.”

The stadium — expected to cost roughly $1 billion — will be paid with a mix of private dollars and revenues from the hotel/motel tax, according to published reports. That includes roughly $200 million from hotel/motel taxes, reports indicate.

The Georgia Dome, the Falcons current stadium, opened in 1992 and was a venue during the 1996 Olympics; he new stadium is scheduled to open by 2017, when the current lease on the Georgia Dome expires.

“We are pleased to have gotten to this important milestone in the process,” Lloyd Hawk, chairman of the Board of Trustees for Friendship Baptist Church, said in a statement. “We understand that there still is work to be done to finalize an agreement that we can take to our congregation for them to discuss and make the final decision, and we look forward to working with the Falcons to continue moving forward in the best interest of the church and the community.”

If the city cannot reach a agreement with Mount Vernon Baptist Church, the Falcons will need to look at the so-called “north site” — land that currently serves as a parking lot — as the location of the stadium.

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