SBD/November 14, 2013/Facilities

Braves Expected To Pay 55% Of $672M Cobb County Ballpark

State tax dollars are not expected to help foot the bill for the Cobb County ballpark
Cobb County (Ga.) Commission Chair Tim Lee yesterday said that when financials are released today for the Braves' new ballpark, they will show the team is "paying for 55 percent" of the $672M cost, according to Jon Gillooly of the MARIETTA DAILY JOURNAL. Lee said, "The other 45 percent will be funded without a tax increase for over 95 percent of Cobb County residents." Cobb County Commissioner Helen Goreham said, "I'm very comfortable with it." Neither Goreham or Lee "would go into specifics," but Goreham "believes the finances will work to the county's advantage." The Board of Commissioners is "scheduled to vote on a memorandum of understanding with the Braves at its Nov. 26 meeting." Goreham said, "The speed and the confidentiality is necessary because of the competitive nature usually with businesses, but in this sense there's a lot of politics involved." She added, "You have one political jurisdiction obtaining a sports team and another losing it, so I imagine you have to be very careful on how this is handled" (MARIETTA DAILY JOURNAL, 11/14). Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal yesterday said that he "doesn't expect any state tax dollars to help foot the bill for the move." But in Atlanta, Greg Bluestein notes Deal "would not close the door on the possibility that state dollars could go toward infrastructure improvements" around the new ballpark. Deal said that he "wasn't asked to intervene in the deal" during a meeting yesterday with Braves officials and Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed. He added that Reed "didn't try to offer the team a last-ditch plan to stay" (ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION, 11/14). In Atlanta, Bill Torpy writes of the city's Summerhill neighborhood, "The Braves hurt the neighborhood when they moved in, and will hurt it when they move out" (ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION, 11/14).

BEHIND THE SCENES: Braves Exec VP/Sales & Marketing Derek Schiller said that PSLs "will not be part of the plan for financing the cost of the stadium." Schiller also said that the Braves "have started background work for selling naming rights to the stadium." He said the team received a report "just over the past couple of days that helps us understand what the valuation is," but would not disclose the projected value of the naming rights. Braves Exec VP/Business Operations Mike Plant added that the "statues and commemorative bricks at Turner Field will be relocated" to the new ballpark. In Atlanta, Tim Tucker notes Plant and Braves General Counsel Greg Heller "reaffirmed the team's commitment to moving to Cobb County" after yesterday's meeting with Deal and Reed. Schiller said the Braves have "by and large" gotten positive feedback from season-ticket holders about the move, but he acknowledged some negative responses too. Meanwhile, Plant said that team officials "'visited the Doraville site a couple of times,' ... referring to the site of the former General Motors plant, before focusing on Cobb County" (ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION, 11/14).

IT MAKES CENTS TO ME: In Atlanta, David O'Brien wrote, "I don't like the idea of reverting to the 1970s-era way of thinking, of moving a team from the city to the ‘burbs, when almost every major sports team that’s moved within a city since then has stayed in the same area or moved closer to its city center. ... I don't like it, but I understand it." For a team that is "tied up in a terrible TV contract that runs for about 13 more years, when other MLB teams are signing new TV deals worth exponentially more millions of dollars annually, the Braves feel the need to boost revenues wherever they can. This is where they can." But if the Braves are moving from "a nice place with a ginormous hi-def videoboard, a view (at least from the upper deck) of the skyline and the golden dome of the State Capitol, across the street from the commemorated site of Hank Aaron’s 715th home run, well, by God, you better make the new place special" (AJC.com, 11/13). Braves GM Frank Wren said of the move's impact on the on personnel decisions, "I don't think that has anything to do with what we're doing this season. I think it will start to in the next couple of years. I don't think it will have big implications currently" (MLB.com, 11/13).

WORKIN' ON THE RAILROAD? Lee said that Reed, who "claims the Braves' move to Cobb County means Cobb would need to have light-rail in place, is wrong." Lee: "We're not going to use that, we're going to use bus rapid transit, if we do, it will be BRT." State Rep. Earl Ehrhart added that despite Atlanta officials' "desire to see a MARTA rail line extend into Cobb, it's not going to happen" (MARIETTA DAILY JOURNAL, 11/14).
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