(Photo: Screengrab/WXIA-TV Atlanta, Ga.)
The city of Atlanta, Ga., can now construct a new Atlanta Falcons stadium with the members of the Friendship Baptist Church approving its $19.5 million offer to sell the church property on Sunday, two days after the other church on the preferred land also accepted a similar deal.
About 100 trustees of the Friendship Baptist cast their votes, "overwhelmingly approving" the deal, in a meeting that lasted for 45 minutes after the service, Channel 2 Action News reported.
Not all members were happy with the decision though. "It makes a lot of sense. Business sense and sometimes business and religion don't quite meet," a member, Lafayette Beamon, was quoted as saying.
"We all know a stadium doesn't transform a community, what had happened though is all the attention that has been brought to this community brings us all the opportunity to now take advantage of that and see if we can finally ever get this community to where it really should be," Lloyd Hawk, the head of the board of trustees, was quoted as explaining the decision.
The church building is more than 130 years old, and now the leaders will decide on a new permanent location within two to three months.
On Thursday night, the congregation of the Mount Vernon Baptist church in Atlanta voted on a resolution to sell their church site to the city for $14.5 million for the plan to build $1 billion high-tech, retractable roof stadium on the south site of the Georgia Dome.
Even the Mount Vernon deal drew mixed responses although the vote was upheld in a decision of 116 to 16 to sell their property.
"I think it's an abomination in the sight of God for the city and the Falcons to consider bringing down two historic black churches for a stadium for a second-rate football team," Vickie Johnson, a member, was quoted as saying. However, Damon Britton, another member, said, "We have enough to build another church and start again. The church is within us not a building."
Prior to reaching a deal, the city offered Mount Vernon $6.2 million which they considered an "insult." The Christian Post earlier reported that the Friendship church had asked Atlanta's mayor for $24.5 million to sell their church to the city.
The authority's initial failure to acquire Mount Vernon made negotiations to purchase the Friendship Baptist redundant to stadium planners.
The Falcons want to open their season in a new stadium in the summer of 2017.