By Maria Saporta
The south site is now the official site for the new $1 billion Atlanta Falcons football stadium.
In a letter dated Sept. 30, Richard McKay, president of the Atlanta Falcons, notified Frank Poe, executive director of the Georgia World Congress Center Authority, that the team has reversed its decision and that the south site is now “feasible” for construction of the new Atlanta stadium.
The decision follows the favorable votes of the congregations of two black churches in the past 10 days to seel their land so that the new stadium could be built on the site south of the existing Georgia Dome.
Because agreements had not been reached with Friendship Baptist Church and Mount Vernon Baptist by July 30, the Atlanta Falcons had previously declared that the south site was not feasible. So the stadium project team shifted its efforts to determine the feasibility of the “north site” at the corner of Ivan Allen Jr. Boulevard and Northside Drive — about a half-mile north of the Georgia Dome.
But the south site continued to be the strong preference of a host of city leaders, including Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, who continued negotiating with church leaders on a possible sale. Friendship agreed to a $19.5 million deal, and Mount Vernon agreed to a $14.5 million deal.
The south site’s advantages include that it sits between two MARTA stations — the Vine City MARTA station and the Dome-GWCC-Philips-CNN MARTA station. It also is adjacent to the GWCC convention center, permitting easy access between both facilities as well as joint programming for major shows and events.
“This final decision regarding the location for the new stadium is the result of the efforts of many leaders within the City of Atlanta, State of Georgia, Georgia World Congress Center Authority, and the two churches on the South Site property,” said Arthur Blank, owner and chairman of the Atlanta Falcons, in a press release. “As the preferred site, the South Site serves the best interests of many important partners, including the surrounding communities. We are grateful for the ongoing support of everyone involved in this project, and we look forward to sharing further details regarding the new stadium design in the coming weeks.”
Mayor Reed also released a statement at 7 p.m. Monday evening.
“This decision today by the Falcons will have a positive impact on our great city for many years to come,” Reed said. “I’m proud of the hard work we invested in the south site as the best location for the new stadium. It took a little more work to get us to this place, but the long-term sustainability of the stadium and the surrounding neighborhoods were important priorities for me.”
In his letter to Poe, McKay unequivocally stated that the south site is “now the definite site for construction of the (New Stadium Project).”
The new stadium is expected to open before the 2017 football season. Once it is fully operational, the Georgia Dome, which opened in 1992, will be torn down.