So it turns out that yesterday’s announcement by Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed that he’d struck a deal to buy one of the churches on the Falcons‘ proposed stadium site — despite both the Falcons and the state convention center authority saying they were giving up on that site and focusing on another one nearby — is explained by the fact that Reed went and did this without actually consulting the Falcons:
A spirited Reed also said he has long been a supporter of a new stadium despite public sentiment and has suffered political consequences for it, noting he’s “taken as many scars and hits and bruises as anybody in this stadium process.”
He said Tuesday the Falcons should support his efforts for the stadium to be built on the south location, but stopped short of calling them to fund any portion of the [additional] Mount Vernon [Baptist Church purchase] deal.
“For two years my commitment to the Falcons organization has been unwavering,” he said. “…I believe in mutual respect.”
The mayor suggested the city has leverage in securing the south site, noting the $30 million stadium community benefits plan must be reached and approved by himself and the Atlanta City Council before any bonds will be issued for stadium construction.
“I took significant political risks to support this stadium,” Reed says. “I have been unwavering in my support to this stadium. I didn’t do it so that whatever happens just happens. I have a vision for this city and what it should look and feel like; and where it’s going in 10 and 20 and 30 years. I didn’t do this for any short term reasoning and I think the south site is that right long-term reason.”
For anyone who enjoys rubbernecking at stadium chaos, this promises to be all kinds of awesome: The mayor who spearheaded the campaign to give Falcons owner Arthur Blank around $550 million in tax money for his new stadium is now all but threatening to hold up the deal unless Blank agrees to put it where he wants it.
Blank has agreed to pay for the costs of land acquisition, but presumably didn’t mean that to be a (no pun intended, really) blank check, so the question remains who would pay for any added costs of whatever the Mount Vernon Baptist Church would want for its building. And as commenters here have already noted, Mount Vernon’s bargaining position is only strengthened by these latest developments. So if Reed is serious about trying to force Blank to accept the south site, things could get very ugly indeed. Assuming, that is, that $550 million in tax money for a new stadium for the founder of Home Depot to replace one that was just built 20 years ago isn’t ugly enough for your tastes already.