BRADENTON, Fla. – Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed has negotiated a preliminary $19.5 million purchase price for a church property needed to build the Atlanta Falcons a new $1 billion “iconic” football stadium.
Reed’s deal, which still must be approved by the Friendship Baptist Church’s congregation, is for land south of the existing Georgia Dome where the National Football League team currently plays. The location is close to train and bus transit.
Negotiations with the Mount Vernon Baptist Church for another property needed to build on the southern site were called off recently when a deal could not be reached by the team and Georgia World Congress Center, which owns the Dome.
The team announced that it would begin looking at a new stadium site north of the Dome, which is less desirable partly because it is farther away from transit.
Reed said the churches are not going to be forced into selling through eminent domain, and he “respectfully requested” that the Falcons and GWCC renew their efforts to reach agreement with Mount Vernon while exploring the use of the northern site.
“Everybody needs to know stadiums are hard” projects to do, Reed said Aug. 6. “It needs to be in a place that is sustainable, that is not going to add traffic and congestion.”
To raise the $1 billion needed for the retractable-roof stadium, the city has agreed to contribute $200 million plus financing fees from a local hotel-motel tax, while $800 million will come from the Falcons, the NFL, and personal seat licenses.
Reed said he has asked former United Nations Ambassador Andrew Young to assist in the Mount Vernon negotiations in part because he was the mayor of Atlanta when negotiations were under way to build the Georgia Dome just over 20 years ago. That process also involved several neighborhood churches.
“We’re trying to build a world-class amenity for the people of the city of Atlanta,” said Reed, who also asked that the team abolish an “artificial” timeline to accomplish certain phases of the project.
Many details of the project are still being worked on per various agreements between the Falcons and GWCC. Final closing on all facets of the deal, including the city’s contribution, is currently anticipated by July 31, 2014.
Reed said there is also much work that needs to be done composing a multi-million dollar community benefits plan that is part of the stadium project. That plan was added to address neighborhood complaints and needs anticipated to arise because of the stadium’s location.
Invest Atlanta, the city’s economic development agency, and the Atlanta City Council have already approved documents necessary for the issuance of the bonds.
The $200 million of revenue bonds are in the process of being validated by the courts, Atlanta Chief Financial Officer Jim Beard said Wednesday. The bonds are expected to be sold next July.