Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed announced a $19.5 million tentative deal with Friendship Baptist Church yesterday to build a new Atlanta Falcons stadium on its site despite a recent statement from the NFL team that they had dropped negotiation talks with the church because its property was "unfeasible."
FBC initially asked Reed for $24.5 million to sell its church but an agreement was prolonged due to price war differences and because the Atlanta Falcons Stadium Company was unable to complete environmental testings on the property. Now that a deal has been reached, the city and the Atlanta Falcons are partially on track to proceed with their proposed $1 billion high-tech, retractable roof stadium.
"I am pleased with the solid progress on the construction of a new stadium for the Atlanta Falcons in the heart of our city," said mayor Reed at a press conference, according to Atlanta-based Fox affiliate, WAGA-TV. "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."
In order to complete the deal, the city will also need to reach an agreement with Mount Vernon Baptist Church directly across the street from FBC. Due to the uncertainty of acquiring the south site location where both churches stand, the north site in Atlanta remains as an option.
"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," said Reed.
He also expressed frustration with the Georgia World Congress Center Authority for not closing negotiations with Mount Vernon after they rejected a $6.2 million offer because they wanted an additional $14 million.
"I think I have done enough in this process to ask that they try harder because that's what folks are asking me to do," said Reed.
According to AP, negotiations with Mount Vernon are not entirely off the table.
"The authority congratulates the mayor on his efforts with Friendship and recognize it was a heavy political lift," GWCCA spokeswoman Jennifer LeMaster said in a statement. "We welcome a conversation with the mayor in regards to Mt. Vernon Baptist Church."
The Atlanta Falcons also issued a statement applauding the deal the mayor made on their behalf.
"We commend the Mayor, city officials and the congregation of Friendship Baptist Church for all of their hard work in reaching a tentative agreement for the acquisition of the church property. This is certainly a positive development for the south site; however, other significant issues and requirements remain unresolved on that site."