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Falcons Stadium Dilemma: Tale Of Two Old Churches

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Isn't it ironic that after the Atlanta Falcon's new stadium project was green-lighted by all the requisite, powerful bureaucracies, the last remaining impediments between what Falcons brass and Atlanta's mayor really want is two little old churches? Decisions have to come soon. Agreements state that Aug. 1 is the hard deadline for determining if the preferred $1 billion stadium location — an area adjacent to the Georgia Dome called the "South Site" — will be feasible. According to our own scientific poll in December, that site is heavily favored by Atlanta's general public. But it all hinges on two historic black churches — Mount Vernon Baptist and Friendship Baptist — who must decided whether to cash in, or declare their deep histories in the area too sacred to be bought. (Both Arthur Blank and Kasim Reed have said they won't boot the churches). Would the fallback "North Site," a half-mile up Northside Drive, just north of the Georgia World Congress Center, be that bad if the churches don't budge?

As the Saporta Report notes, the North Site has been called less than ideal, as it's farther away from the center of downtown, MARTA stations, and the heart of the convention center. But going south presents issues, sentimental and otherwise. Mount Vernon Baptist Church would have to be torn down to make way for the Stadium itself. Its pastor recently said no decision has been reached, and that congregants were consulting with a higher power. "We are praying, and pray for us," Turner said, as quoted by Saporta.

Across the street, Friendship Baptist Church would also be demolished. A redesigned Martin Luther King Jr. Drive would go through its property. Doing so would allow the stadium to have dramatic downtown views.

· Two churches are key to final Atlanta Falcons stadium site decision [Saporta Report]
· Face-Off: Which Early Falcons Stadium Design Is Best? [Curbed Atlanta]