(Photo:Facebook/Friendship Baptist Church)
NFL team the Atlanta Falcons announced that it has dropped negotiation talks to build a $1 billion retractable-roof stadium on the south site of the Georgia Dome where two historic churches are located.
"Atlanta Falcons Stadium Company (StadCo) today notified the Georgia World Congress Center Authority (GWCCA) that it has determined that development and construction of the New Stadium Project on the south site is not feasible at this time for a number of reasons, including that the Mount Vernon Baptist Church and the Friendship Baptist Church properties and other necessary parcels have not been acquired, and that StadCo has been unable to complete environmental and other required testings on these properties," said the Falcons in a statement released on Monday.
Both Friendship Baptist Church and Mount Vernon Baptist Church stand in the way of the desired land where the Falcons had hoped to build their new stadium. Last month, The Christian Post reported that FBC asked Atlanta's mayor for $24.5 million to sell their church to the city and negotiations were simultaneously underway for Mount Vernon, which sits directly across from FBC. However, city officials agreed to move on to the north site if an agreement was not reached by August.
But when CP contacted FBC, Lloyd Hawk, chairman of the board of trustees of FBC, said that "there was a miscommunication in the message delivered to us and that was corrected."
"Friendship is still in negotiations with the city and the Atlanta Falcons regarding the proposed new stadium site," he asserted. "The negotiations are positive and ongoing."
Initially, the south site was considered an option for the stadium at the request of city officials even though the Falcons favored the north site. According to Atlanta-based Fox affiliate, WAGA-TV, the new proposed location faces a few challenges before any decision can be made, including contaminated soil under a parking lot and several overhead power lines that would be removed. The GWCCA recently voted to allow the Falcons to begin soil testing and other studies on the north site in order to proceed with negotiations as the team hopes the new stadium can be debuted in time for the 2017 football season.
"We are going to turn attention to the north side and start working through the feasibility analysis of the north," said GWCCA Executive Director Frank Poe, according to WAGA-TV.
Although the north site has only recently been chosen as a default location, there is already opposition in place from surrounding neighbors and from people who object the proposed stadium's inaccessibility to the nearest metro rail station.
"The neighborhoods are adamantly against the north site. There is a consensus I'd like to put positively in favor of the south site," said Mike Koblentz of the Norwest Community Alliance in Atlanta, according to WAGA-TV.
If negotiations with the north site proceed any further, Hawk told CP that FBC will remain unfazed.
"We will continue to serve God in this community as we have for the last 151 years wherever the stadium is located," said Hawk.