by: Jim Strickland Updated:
ATLANTA - The Georgia World Congress Center is pushing ahead with design plans for a new stadium to replace the Georgia Dome.
Meanwhile, Gov. Nathan Deal and Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed continue trying to design a way to pay the local share, currently pegged at $300 million.
Channel 2's Jim Strickland was on the phone and texting sources throughout Monday, and learned officials were still meeting until late Monday afternoon in an attempt to cut the number of design firms competing for the project from 10 to three.
In a twist, they announced five are still in the running, including the Atlanta firm that designed the Georgia Aquarium. TVS design is teaming with Heery International, an Atlanta firm that was in on the original planning and engineering on the Georgia Dome. The Gensler construction firm is also part of the partnership.
TVS did not return a call for comment.
Kansas City firm Populous drew up plans to renovate the dome three years ago. Now, it remains in the running to design a new stadium.
Other local ties stretch to Gwinnett County. The Texas firm HKS, which counts Coolray Field in its portfolio, also made the cut. The firm also designed Cowboys Stadium near Dallas.
Two firms involved in the New York Giants' and Jets’ MetLife Stadium remain in the running, 360 Architecture, of Kansas City, and Ewing Cole, of Philadelphia, have separate proposals.
Each competing firm will submit drawings and be interviewed in the next 30 days.
The Falcons declined an interview on camera. Sources told Strickland that Deal has imposed a 15-day period of silence on state officials on the stadium issue.
The World Congress Center's original timeline called for picking the winning design firm in March and having the stadium finished four years later.
The timeline is very much in doubt, as state and city officials scramble for a way to pay the public portion, through bypassing a reluctant legislature.