City, Falcons reach agreement with Friendship Baptist Church

ATLANTA — The city of Atlanta, on behalf of the Atlanta Falcons, has reached an agreement with a church whose land stands where the Falcons want to build a new stadium.

While the city, negotiating for the Falcons, agreed to pay $19.5 million for Friendship Baptist Church’s property, the city still needs to buy the land of a second church, Mount Vernon Baptist Church, if the team wants to pursue the so-called “south site” as the location of the stadium.

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

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.

“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 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.”

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