The new $1 billion dollar stadium deal got a huge boost today, when Falcons owner Arthur Blank and Mayor Kasim Reed announced a joint agreement to build the new site. According to a joint press event, the site of the new stadium will be exactly south of the current Dome.
Plans state that if approved by the Atlanta City Council, the new stadium will not cross over Northside Drive to the west. Instead the site will be placed where there is currently Dome parking lots and the nearly 150 year old church, Friendship Baptist. Mayor Reed said at the press conference that he has been in talk with Friendship Baptist and those talks will continue.
"If Friendship says no to our plans, then we will look at locating the new stadium on the north side," just over Simpson Road, Reed said.
In an article in the SaportaReport, it was noted that there are other roadblocks to building the stadium on the south side of the Dome. "Locating the new stadium on the south site does have other challenges — namely the need to acquire some property including the Mount Vernon Baptist Church at 441 Martin Luther King Jr. Drive," writes Maria Saporta.
The current agreed upon plans include a $30 million investment for redevelopment of the English Avenue, Vine City and Castleberry Hill neighborhoods. According to the AJC, $15 million will come from the Falcons, and another $15 million from InvestAtlanta, the city’s economic development agency.
Mayor Reed was quick to say that despite his excitement today and belief in the project, it is not a done deal and the votes among city council are most likely not there yet to approve the deal. "I think it will happen, but there is still too much time left in the game to say yes or no."
Interestingly, Mayor Reed once again made it clear that his mission is to, "make the Martin Luther King Drive corridor, the best in the nation. "MLK Drive should represent the legacy for which it was named after." For Reed, placing the stadium on the corner of Martin Luther King Dr. and Northside will help to beautify this corridor, and is inline with other future plans the city has for MLK Dr.
Councilman Ivory Young, of District 3 and likely have the new stadium within his district, thanked the mayor and Blank for investing years into transforming the city, and looks forward to changes in Vine City and along the MLK corridor. Mayor Reed said that the project, "will strengthen the viability of the more than 200,000 jobs that support our tourism and convention business.” Within the plan there is to be at least 31 percent minority or women involvement in the design and construction of the project.
The biggest obstacle for the new stadium over the last month or so, was the public's opposition to having to foot the bill of a $200 million dollar gap in funding. It was announced at today's press conference that the $200 million dollar funds will come from the hotel-motel tax collection by the city of Atlanta and unincorporated Fulton County. This would mean that there would be no cost to City of Atlanta residents, and that visitors to Atlanta will be footing the bill.
So what side of the debate are you on? Do you want a new stadium now? Should Friendship Baptist take a deal and relocate?
New Stadium for Vine City?