Conceptual art from AtlantaFalcons.com
ATLANTA (WXIA) -- At a forum Wednesday morning, Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank was non-committal when asked if he would contribute to the purchase of Mount Vernon Baptist Church to enable construction of the new stadium on the "South Site" along Martin Luther King Drive.
Blank said the decision on where the stadium could be located - the South Site more preferred by the city and the Falcons, or the North Site along Ivan Allen Boulevard - should be made within the next couple of weeks.
The Falcons owner said the Arthur Blank Foundation wants to get involved in enhancing the neighborhoods around the new stadium.
To the west of both the existing Georgia Dome and both proposed sites for the new stadium sits Atlanta's Vine City and English Avenue neighborhoods. Both communities have experienced much in the way of blight and are littered with abandoned buildings. Community leaders from those neighborhoods have expressed concern about the lack of attention given to those communities in light of the millions of dollars being spent developing adjacent areas tied to the new stadium.
October 1 is considered a hard-and-fast deadline for the purchase of two church properties - Mount Vernon Baptist Church and Friendship Baptist Church. Both properties sit within the footprint of the South Site for the new stadium. On October 1, the Falcons and the Georgia World Congress Center Authority must sign a site-specific contract for construction of the stadium.
Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed has already announced an agreement to purchase Friendship Baptist Church for $19.5 million. Negotiations are continuing regarding the purchase of Mount Vernon Baptist Church.