Mayor and Falcons strike stadium deal; Vine City, English Avenue, Castleberry Hill would see $30 million investment

Atlanta City Council must still approve proposal


Mayor Kasim Reed and Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank today announced that the city and football team have struck a tentative deal over a new stadium near downtown.

The agreement unveiled today at a packed press conference at City Hall includes $30 million for neighborhoods surrounding the new facility, which the Falcons say they prefer to be located south of the existing Georgia Dome.

Half of that funding would come from the city's Westside TAD. The other half would be provided by Blank's philanthropic organization. Reed says he also hopes the private sector will contribute an additional $15 million.

The Falcons would be responsible for $50 million in infrastructure costs, such as roads, utility work, and other fixes, "related to stadium construction." (It'll be interesting to see what falls - or doesn't fall - under that umbrella.)

The mayor said the city and the Georgia World Congress Center Authority, the state authority that oversees the Georgia Dome and eponymous convention center, will develop an equal opportunity plan that will ensure "at least 31 percent participation" by women- and minority-owned businesses.

Up to $200 million in bonds backed by the city's hotel and motel tax revenues would be used to fund the project. However, that's not all the public benefit the Falcons will enjoy. The state is providing free land and will lead negotiations about purchasing properties. Then there are possible tax exemptions.

As mentioned before, the Falcons prefer to build the new stadium in a general area located south of the Georgia Dome, which will ultimately be demolished and replaced with parking. That raises the question of what happens with Friendship Baptist Church. The historic church housed classrooms for Morehouse College when it moved to Atlanta from Augusta in 1879. Spelman College was founded in its basement two years later.

Reed said talks are underway with Friendship Baptist Church about its future. He said it's "very important it be treated in a manner worthy of its 150-year tradition." Failure to strike a deal both sides find favorable could mean a closer look at an alternate stadium site along Northside Drive near the intersection of Ivan Allen Boulevard.

Keep in mind that the deal isn't over. The Atlanta City Council must still approve the deal, which could take several weeks. Several Atlanta City Councilmembers, including Council President Ceasar Mitchell and Councilmembers Michael Julian Bond, Ivory Young, Joyce Sheperd, Keisha Lance Bottoms, and H. Lamar Willis, were in attendance today (and those are just the ones we could spot in the jam-packed room). The Falcons must also iron out their own deal with the GWCCA.

These are just the basics. More details to come in a bit.