Church approves deal to sell property for new stadium

Church approves deal to sell property for new stadium

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ATLANTA -

Members of a historic Atlanta church voted to accept a deal to sell its property in order to make way for the new Atlanta Falcons stadium.

The city of Atlanta offered Mount Vernon Baptist Church $14.5 million for its space south of the Georgia Dome. The church overwhelmingly voted in favor of the sale in a 90 minute meeting on Thursday.

Mayor Kasim Reed, who helped broker the deal, announced the terms of the agreement last week.  According to the plans, the Georgia World Congress Center Authority will pay $6.2 million, while the Falcons will contribute $8.3 million.

The Rev. Rodney Turner said accepting the deal at the 98-year-old church was not a simple matter.

"There are a lot of people here who have strong ties, who have been members of this church for a long time," Turner said.

Turner said the congregation prayed to help them reach the right solution. He says there is still much work ahead to pick up and move to another site after nearly a century, but the infusion of money will help the church help the community.

"Certainly additional moneys will help us to expand our ministries and cater to an even greater number of persons," Turner said.

Not all church members were in favor of the buyout.

"It is appalling for the city to consider desecrating the sacred ground of two historic black churches to build a stadium facility for a second-rate football team," said Vickie Johnson.

Mount Vernon and another church, Friendship Baptist Church, are located on the preferred site of the new billion dollar stadium.

Officials prefer the south site due its proximity to public transportation.

Friendship Baptist has already agreed to terms to sell its land for $19.5 million. The church is expected to vote on that deal on Sunday.

Falcons owner Arthur Blank has stated that he would like the stadium open in time for the 2017 season.

Turner said he'd like Mount Vernon to relocate in the Vine City/English Avenue area.

Material from the Associated Press was used in this report

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