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New plans for downtown stadium may mean more time, money
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New plans for downtown stadium may mean more time, money

New plans for downtown stadium may mean more time, money
Photo Credit: AtlantaFalcons.com
Catch AJC staff writer Tim Tucker's look at how new NFL stadiums are trying to increase the joy of the stadium experience for fans and that will include a look at some plans the Falcons have for the future. Go to MyAJC.com on Saturday.

New plans for downtown stadium may mean more time, money

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.

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News

  • The British man who killed four people during a London rampage had made three trips to Saudi Arabia: He taught English there twice on a work visa and returned on a visa usually granted to those going on a religious pilgrimage. More details about attacker Khalid Masood's travels, confirmed by the Saudi Arabian embassy in Britain, emerged Saturday amid a massive British police effort to discover how a homegrown ex-con with a violent streak became radicalized and why he launched a deadly attack Wednesday on Westminster Bridge. The embassy said he taught English in Saudi Arabia from November 2005 to November 2006 and again from April 2008 to April 2009, with legitimate work visas both times. He then returned to Saudi Arabia for six days in March 2015 on a trip booked through an approved travel agent and made on an 'Umra' visa, usually granted to those on a religious pilgrimage to the country's Islamic holy sites. The embassy said Saudi security services didn't track Masood and he didn't have a criminal record there. Before taking the name Masood, he was called Adrian Elms. He was known for having a violent temper in England and had been convicted at least twice for violent crimes. Masood drove his rented SUV across London's crowded Westminster Bridge on Wednesday, striking pedestrians. Then he jumped out and stabbed to death police officer Keith Palmer, who was guarding Parliament, before being shot dead by police. In all, he killed four people and left more than two dozen hospitalized, including some with catastrophic injuries. The Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for the attack, calling him a 'solider' who responded to its demands that followers attack countries in the coalition fighting IS in Syria and Iraq. British officials said security at Parliament will be reviewed after new footage emerged that showed the large gates to the complex were left open after Masood rushed onto the grounds. There are concerns that accomplices could have followed him in and killed even more people. The footage from that day shows pedestrians walking by the open gates and even a courier entering Parliament grounds. Former Metropolitan Police commissioner Ian Blair told the BBC that changes to the 'outer soft ring' of Parliament's security plan are likely in the aftermath of Masood's attack. The new footage follows earlier video that showed slight delays and confusion during the evacuation of Prime Minister Theresa May from Parliament as the attack unfolded. Masood, who at 52 is considerably older than most extremists who carry out bloodshed in the West, had an arrest record in Britain dating to 1983. In 2000, he slashed a man across the face in a pub parking lot in a racially charged argument after drinking, according to a newspaper account. Masood's last conviction, in 2003, also involved a knife attack. One victim, Danny Smith, told The Sun newspaper that Masood had stabbed him in the face with a kitchen knife after an argument just three days after they met. Hundreds of British police have been working to determine his motives and are scouring Masood's communications systems, including his possible use of the encrypted WhatsApp device, to help determine if he had any accomplices. Still, police have released many of those they took in for questioning in the case. One 58-year-old man remains in custody for questioning after being arrested Thursday in the central English city of Birmingham, where Masood was living. Authorities haven't charged or identified him. A 32-year-old woman arrested in Manchester has been released on bail and faces further inquiries. Police said Saturday that a 27-year-old man arrested Thursday in Birmingham has been released. Eight others arrested in connection with the investigation had been set free earlier, including a 39-year-old woman who had initially been freed on bail but now faces no further police action, police said Saturday. Details about how Masood became radicalized aren't clear, although he may have become exposed to radical views while an inmate in Britain or while working in conservative Saudi Arabia. It's also not clear when he took the name Masood, suggesting a conversion to Islam.
  • RADFORD, N.C. (AP) - A North Carolina sheriff says a newborn and the baby's 2-year-old sister have been found stabbed to death.Hoke County Sheriff Hubert Peterkin tells WRAL (http://bit.ly/2n1S80h) the bodies of 4-day-old Genesis Freeman and 2-year-old Serenity Freeman were found Saturday in the woods near an intersection close to the city of Raeford.Before they were found, their 30-year-old father Tillman Freeman was arrested and charged with two counts of child abuse and child endangerment. Authorities said the father refused to cooperate with the investigation into the children's whereabouts. TRENDING STORIES: Plane crashes near Cobb County home; 1 killed Company will pay you $10K a month to travel, stay in luxury homes Home Depot accused of unsafe practices; Criminal investigation launched They have not said who they think killed the children, who were reported missing following a domestic dispute. Freeman's wife was in a local hospital when the children disappeared.Details about the domestic dispute were not immediately released. It's not clear whether Freeman has an attorney.
  • Tens of thousands protested Saturday under sunny skies in London against plans for Britain to withdraw from the European Union. The Unite for Europe march, which saw many people carrying bright blue EU flags, came just days before Britain is expected to begin its formal separation from the other 27 nations in the EU. The crowds observed a minute of silence at Parliament Square as a tribute to the four victims killed and dozens wounded in an attack Wednesday on Parliament. Many bowed their heads as Big Ben chimed and placed flowers at Parliament's gate to honor the victims. Police did not provide a crowd estimate. Organizers said more than 25,000 people were present. There was also a smaller anti-Brexit protest march in Edinburgh, Scotland. Organizers considered delaying the long-planned march because of the attack — in part to avoid putting extra strain on British police — but decided to go ahead. Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron told the crowd that 'democracy continues' despite the assault. 'We stand in defiance of that attack,' he said. Prime Minister Theresa May plans to trigger Article 50 of the EU treaty on Wednesday, setting the Brexit process in motion. Negotiations are expected to take at least two years. Britain voted in a June 23 referendum to leave the EU.
  • A man riding on a double decker bus on the Las Vegas Strip pulled a gun and started shooting, killing one person and wounding another before barricading himself inside in a standoff that lasted hours before he finally surrendered. The standoff began about 11 a.m. PDT Saturday on the bus when it was stopped on Las Vegas Boulevard near the Cosmopolitan hotel-casino. 'He was on the bus. He was shooting people on the bus. He was just contained to that location. He never exited the bus,' Clark County Assistant Sheriff Tom Roberts said. Two people were taken to the hospital after the shooting, University Medical Center spokeswoman Danita Cohen said. One died, and the other was in fair condition. For hours, crisis negotiators, robots and armored vehicles surrounded the bus with authorities uncertain if there were any more victims inside. Meanwhile, officers swept into the casinos to warn tourists to bunker down until further notice, leaving these normally bustling pedestrian areas and a road notorious for taxi-to-taxi traffic completely empty. The Strip was shut down for blocks in both directions. Some in the Cosmopolitan — hotel guests out over their balconies, party people on the pool deck — saw the tense situation unfold below. Former NBA player Scot Pollard, who is staying at the Cosmopolitan, told The Associated Press by phone that he was at a bar at the hotel-casino around 11 a.m. when he saw several people, including staff, running through the area toward the casino and repeatedly screaming 'get out of the way.' After he was told that the area would be closed, he went back to his room, which oversees the Strip. 'We can hear them negotiating. We can hear them saying things like 'No one else needs to get hurt,' 'Come out with your hands up. We are not going anywhere. We are not leaving,' ' he said. Visitors were also hiding out inside some of the other prominent casino properties affected, including the Bellagio, Paris, Planet Hollywood and Bally, which in addition to hotels and casinos also hold restaurants, shops and attractions. Las Vegas Police officer Larry Hadfield said just before 3:30 p.m. that the man, who had a handgun, surrendered without incident. Police did not open fire and said they believe the man is the only suspect. Terrorism or any connection to an earlier robbery nearby that shut down a part of the Bellagio has been ruled out. No other information about the man has been released. By 4 p.m., pedestrians were back in the area and northbound traffic on Las Vegas boulevard had reopened while investigators worked to clean up the other lane where the bus was still grounded. The bus is operated by the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada. The agency said its bus driver was not hurt. It's unknown how many people were on the bus at the time of the shooting but it appears that those who were there were able to flee. Police have started a hotline in search of those passengers to report what they witnessed. ----- Associated Press writer Regina Garcia Cano and photographer John Locher contributed.