Stadium site could stay in flux through October 1

6:51 PM, Jul 31, 2013   |    comments
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Georgia Dome, home of the Atlanta Falcons

ATLANTA-- Although the Atlanta Falcons have declared a preferred site for the team's new stadium "not feasible," the site south of the Georgia Dome remains a possibility.

MORE | Continuing coverage of new Falcons stadium

A memorandum of understanding (MOU) adopted between the state and the Falcons gives the parties until October 1 to complete a master agreement for the new stadium project.  The master agreement would be site specific.

PHOTOS | What the new stadium will look like

Site-specific schematics for the new stadium would be due by October 31. 

July 30, the Georgia World Congress Center gave Mt. Vernon Baptist Church a "best and final" offer for its property, which sits in the south site footprint.  No terms were disclosed.  By 5:30pm July 31, Mt. Vernon had not responded.

Officials have said unless Mt. Vernon and Friendship Baptist churches agree to sell their properties, the stadium can't locate in the south site. 

Without an agreement by August 1, the Falcons begin to exercise control over the site of the new stadium. 

The MOA says that if a deal isn't reached on the south site by August 1, then the parties would shift their efforts to the north site.

It also means Mt. Vernon and Friendship Baptist churches, both of which have received offers for their properties to make way for the stadium, could still cut deals after the August 1 deadline.

But any south site deal offered after August 1 would have to be explicitly approved by the Falcons, who say they don't want to delay construction of the new stadium. The longer the delay after August 1, the less likely the Falcons would approve a return to the south site.

The Falcons want to start their 2017 season in the new stadium. At either site, groundbreaking would take place in spring of 2014.

Backers of the stadium project prefer the south site because it's adjacent to two MARTA rail stations.  The north site is a half mile from the Vine City station.

RELATED: Church wants more than $24 million for stadium site

Negotiations with Mt. Vernon began to stall after Mayor Kasim Reed told 11Alive News that the city had offered more than $15 million to Friendship Baptist Church for its property.  Reed said Friendship had offered to sell for more than $24 million.  Friendship's spokesman Lloyd Hawk said Wednesday talks are "ongoing." 

Related: Church turmoil is wild card for stadium project 

Unlike Friendship, Mt. Vernon has been very secretive about its willingness to make a deal to sell its property.  Its pastor, Rodney Turner, consistently declines to return messages from news media. 

Mt. Vernon has had some public turmoil.  In July 2012, a judge dismissed a lawsuit filed by two Mt. Vernon church members which accused the church leadership of "fraud and deceit."  It also challenged a pay raise given to Rev. Turner. 

The church responded by removing one of the plaintiffs, Willie Bozeman, from its board of deacons, and changing the locks on the church, according to court documents. 

After the lawsuit was settled, Bozeman told 11 Alive News that he was still a member of the church, and declined further comment.  Neither Rev. Turner nor the church's attorney responded to requests for comment.

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