As Aug. 1 approaches, new Falcons stadium location shifting to north site

By Maria Saporta

Months ago, the Atlanta Falcons set an Aug. 1 deadline to determine whether the site south of the Georgia Dome would be a feasible option to build its new $1 billion retractable roof stadium.

But with Aug 1 only eight days away, little progress has been on the preferred south site.

The Georgia World Congress Center has not yet acquired Mount Vernon Baptist Church, which actually sits on what would be the footprint of the new stadium on the south site.

And the City of Atlanta has not yet reached a deal to acquire Friendship Baptist Church across Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, an acquisition that would be necessary so that the street could curve around an expanded south site for the stadium.

In light of that situation, the GWCC Authority’s Stadium Development Committee will be meeting Wednesday, July 24 to vote on a resolution to begin “due diligence work” on the north site.

The north site is located at the corner of Northside Drive and Ivan Allen Jr. Boulevard — about a half-mile north of the existing Georgia Dome and where the GWCC’s truck marshalling yard is located.

Originally the Atlanta Falcons had preferred the north site, but community consensus shifted the focus to the south because of its proximity to two MARTA stations and because it would be closer to the GWCC campus.

The south site also was viewed as having a greater opportunities of making the stadium part of downtown and the proposed multimodal station as well as the nearby Vine City and westside neighborhoods.

After the Atlanta Falcons selected its architectural team and developed a design concept for the new stadium, the team’s officials said that they had become fond of the south site and that they believed it would provide nice vistas of Atlanta’s downtown skyline.

Duriya Farooqui, chief operating officer for the City of Atlanta, did not comment on the situation in an email about the status of the south site.

Also, the GWCC officials repeated their policy that they do not comment on real estate negotiations.

It is unclear that if the GWCC committee and board approve the resolution to begin due diligence on the north site whether that means the south site is off the table or whether both sites are still under consideration.

The Aug. 1 deadline was set by the Atlanta Falcons so that the design and construction would stay on schedule so the new stadium would open in time for the 2017 football season.

Maria Saporta, Editor, is a longtime Atlanta business, civic and urban affairs journalist with a deep knowledge of our city, our region and state.  Since 2008, she has written a weekly column and news stories for the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Prior to that, she spent 27 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, becoming its business columnist in 1991. Maria received her Master’s degree in urban studies from Georgia State and her Bachelor’s degree in journalism from Boston University. Maria was born in Atlanta to European parents and has two young adult children.

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