ATLANTA (AP) — An Atlanta church congregation has voted to accept a $19.5 million offer to relocate so the Atlanta Falcons can build a new stadium downtown.
Friendship Baptist Church members voted Sunday to accept the offer for their land south of the Georgia Dome.
Chairman of the church’s board of trustees, Lloyd Hawk, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that the deal will help the church remain active in its community.
“We will be able to provide an even greater level of service and ministry, which is so desperately needed for this community to reach the heights it is capable of achieving and so desperately deserving,” he said.
Earlier this week, the congregation at nearby Mt. Vernon Baptist Church voted to accept the city’s offer of $14.5 million.
The churches were each in the path of the franchise’s planned $1 billion, retractable roof stadium.
The churches have been the main obstacles to the team building the stadium at a site south of the Georgia Dome, where the Falcons currently play.
Mayor Kasim Reed has repeatedly said that site is preferable to an open site north of the Georgia Dome because it would be better served by two public transit stations, alleviating game-day traffic jams and making it easier for fans to access the games using public transportation.
The team hopes to open the new facility in time for the 2017 season.
The plan calls for the demolition of the roughly 21-year-old Georgia Dome — which hosted basketball and artistic gymnastics events during the 1996 summer Olympics, and the Super Bowl in 1994 and 2000.
The Georgia Dome also hosted the NCAA women’s Final Four in 2003 and the men’s Final Four in 2002, 2007 and 2013.