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Mayor Kasim Reed to make stadium announcement on Tuesday; could he have Friendship church deal in hand?

By Maria Saporta

The City of Atlanta sent out a media advisory Monday afternoon saying that Mayor Kasim Reed will make an announcement regarding the new Falcons stadium.

The speculation is that the press conference will announce that a deal has been reached between the City of Atlanta and Friendship Baptist Church, one of two churches that would have to be acquired for the stadium to be located on a site south of the Georgia Dome.

But the question is whether such a deal would be too little too late.

Over the past couple of weeks, the proposed football stadium development has taken several twists and turns as negotiations to acquire property south of the Georgia Dome has stalled.

The south site had been the preferred site for the Atlanta Falcons, the City of Atlanta had the Georgia World Congress Center Authority because of its proximity to two MARTA stations and to the convention center.

But the agreement between the various parties had stated that there was a deadline of Aug. 1 to determine whether the south site would be feasible. On July 30, the Atlanta Falcons and GWCCA announced that the south site as not feasible because none of the property had been acquired.

Instead, the decision was made to turn their attention to the north site — a location at the corner of Northside Drive and Ivan Allen Jr. Boulevard, about a half-mile north of the existing Georgia Dome and the existing Vine City MARTA station.

Since that decision was made, there has been some confusion over the nuances of whether the option for the south site has been totally closed or whether the possibility exists for the Falcons and GWCCA to reconsider locating the stadium on what had been the preferred site.

Adding that confusion is the fact that the City of Atlanta and Friendship Baptist Church have continued negotiating after the Aug. 1 deadline, apparently moving closer and closer to a deal.

Also, the second black church — Mount Vernon Baptist Church, told members of its congregation that it was holding s specially-called family meeting on Aug. 13 to talk about its discussions with GWCCA.

Oddly enough, the negotiations between GWCCA and Mount Vernon recently broke off because both parties — once reportedly close to making a deal — were now nearly $14 million apart.

The media advisory makes no mention of whether any representatives of the Atlanta Falcons or GWCCA will be present.

But it does state that members of the Atlanta City Council will participate in the press conference. That adds to the intrigue of the announcement.

The stadium project had to be approved by the Atlanta City Council, and it approved the project in an 11-4 vote in March. Although the legislation was not site specific, all the energy was being directed toward the south site.

If the Atlanta Falcons are seriously committed to going north, it will be interesting to see if there will be some attempt on the part of some Atlanta City Councilmembers to bring the stadium project up for another vote.

No matter what happens at the press conference on Tuesday, it’s clear that the tug of war between the north and south sites is not over.

Maria Saporta

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.



  1. Question Man August 6, 2013 9:12 am

    What would the deal to give hundreds of millions of dollars to Arthur Blank have looked like if the City had been as aggressive and focused with Arthur as it has been with the churches?Report

  2. The Whole Truth August 6, 2013 9:47 am

    No way it’s a deal with Friendship Baptist. We were told by the mayor that August 1st was the absolute deadline. The mayor wouldn’t lie, would he? And if he lied, would the public care? And if the public doesn’t care, why should any other government official care about telling the truth? The press has shown throughout the stadium process that it cares more about having a stadium to cover than it does about being the fourth estate. If the public stops caring about lies coming from people like the mayor, why shouldn’t every government official sell themselves off to the highest bidder? With absolutely no possibility of a negative consequence for lies and corruption, why not? Maria and the rest of the press have failed the public throughout this whole affair. No wonder the public no longer trusts the press. Maria and her buddies have all been paid for. What a sad state of affairs. 
    Hey Maria, why don’t you tell us again that the new stadium is getting “only” $200,000,000 in public money. I’d like to see you wrap yourself in that lie as many times as possible for future generations wondering “how was this possible” will see that it was due to the hard work of propagandists like you.Report

  3. Jarod Apperson August 6, 2013 10:51 am

    @The Whole Truth Back in February, Maria was one of the first to report that the full tax collected is likely to exceed $200M and could approach $600M instead.
    I agree that some media sources (AJC in particular) have printed articles which fail to distinguish between the amount of bonds issued and the total public contribution, which will be higher.  Maria and the Creative Loafing team have both written articles which clarify rather than obfuscate this fact.


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