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Thursday, August 8, 2013 - 2:41pm

Petition Drive To Stop New Stadium Fails

The organizer of a petition that sought to block public financing for a new Atlanta Falcons stadium said Thursday the effort has failed to gather enough signatures.

William Perry of Common Cause Georgia said the group knew it was a longshot to gather 35,000 signatures in 60 days to qualify for the November ballot, but it was worth the effort. Saturday is the deadline.

"As the clock runs out, it appears the 'Hail Mary' pass we threw in the air will not result in a touchdown," Perry said in an email. "But as most football fans will tell you, if there is no other option to win a game when your team is down, you have to throw the ball up in the air and try your best — and we did."

Perry said the effort failed because of a lack of time and resources, and not from a lack of people who wanted the issue on the ballot.

State and city officials have signed off on the $1 billion stadium project that includes an estimated $200 million in public bonds.

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed has said the stadium is an important project to create jobs and revitalize downtown neighborhoods. Earlier this week, the mayor announced a preliminary $19.5 million deal to buy the property of one of two churches needed to build the new stadium.

Perry has said his group is not opposed to a new stadium but did not support the use of public funds to build it. The public financing comes from bonds using a tax on the city's hotel and motel visitors, a revenue stream that was used to help finance construction of the Georgia Dome that opened in 1992. That facility is the current home of the Falcons and plans call for it to be demolished when the new stadium opens for the 2017 season.