Churches will decide on Falcons’ stadium deals

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Churches will decide on Falcons’ stadium deals

The two churches with offers to sell their property to make way for a new Atlanta Falcons stadium plan to weigh the deals next week.

Friendship Baptist, which reached a $19.5 million deal early last month to sell its property, will schedule a congregational vote on ratifying the proposed transaction, Lloyd Hawk, chairman of the church’s board of trustees, said Thursday.

And Mount Vernon Baptist, which The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported Thursday has received a $14.5 million offer, also plans to meet next week to discuss the deal, although it is not clear when the congregation will vote. Mount Vernon officials did not return calls seeking comment.

This week’s offer to Mount Vernon restarted momentum toward locating the $1 billion retractable-roof stadium on a site just south of the Georgia Dome. The site long has been preferred by Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, partly because of its access to two MARTA stations.

“It looks very positive for things to go in that direction,” Hawk said Thursday. “Both the churches obviously have to do their vote.”

The alternative site, on which the Falcons have been conducting feasibility studies since late July, is a half-mile north of the Dome.

Reed has scheduled a news conference for 10 a.m. Friday at City Hall to discuss the new stadium developments.

The AJC reported Thursday that the city has found the private funds needed to purchase Mount Vernon Baptist for the negotiated $14.5 million price, if the church approves the deal.

The Falcons, the logical potential source of the private funds, have declined to say whether they agreed to contribute the additional dollars.

“I feel good (about the chances of completing a deal soon),” Reed told the AJC Thursday. “I don’t have any comment regarding additional financial resources, but within 24 hours we’ll be able to have a firm conversation.”

The mayor described himself as “more than 70 percent confident that we’ll be able to close this transaction and build a facility that is best in class and allows families to see a Falcons game on MARTA as part of the overall customer experience.”

The Georgia World Congress Center Authority offered Mount Vernon $6.2 million — the most it could offer under a law that prevents the state agency from paying more than appraised fair market value — before breaking off talks Aug. 1 with the parties far apart. The GWCCA remains willing to pay the $6.2 million if the rest of the purchase price is privately funded.

The deal with Friendship was negotiated by the city but would be paid with Falcons funds. “Attorneys are working on and drafting” a final version of the contract, Hawk said.

Staff writer Greg Bluestein contributed to this article.

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