New plans for downtown stadium may mean more time, money

by: Jim Strickland Updated:

Stadium design concept for the Atlanta Falcons.

ATLANTA - Channel 2 consumer investigator Jim Strickland has learned that new plans designed to save money on a new downtown stadium may actually cost more time and money.

The plans would allow the stadium to be built south of the Georgia Dome without having to relocate Friendship Baptist Church. The city said the church is asking $9 million too much to sell.

Current plans relocate Martin Luther King Jr. Drive right through the church. They also avoid the nearby MARTA tracks.

The city emailed Strickland a new plan that relocates the road behind the church instead. The stadium itself would also have to move on top of MARTA's right of way.

Engineers for the state have already warned building on the tracks would take so much more time, it "would require the Falcons, SEC championship and bowl games to play in an alternative venue for at least two seasons."

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed said if nothing works out, the new stadium would fit north of the dome just as well. A deadline to decide is Aug. 1 for an opening four years from now.

"The bottom line is this is getting ready to come to a close, one way or the other, and I'm not going to invest energy or time when I don't have to," said Reed.

Friendship Baptist trustee chairman Lloyd Hawk said of the plan to build on the tracks:

"That would cost more than any dollar amount the church would even consider needing," Hawk said.

The two sides continue to talk about a price.