SBD/November 20, 2013/Facilities

Braves Ballpark Funding Detailed In Cobb County Memorandum Of Understanding

Cobb County (Ga.) yesterday released a Memorandum of Understanding with the Braves that "outlines the basic terms" for construction of the team's new $672M ballpark and "adjoining mixed-use development," according to a front-page piece by Bluestein, Klepal & Tucker of the ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION. The Cobb County Commission "will vote on the proposal next week, without holding any public hearing." The agreement, "as expected, calls for the county to be responsible" for $300M of the ballpark cost. It also "stipulates that the Braves have the option of cutting the stadium budget" by up to $50M, thus "reducing the team's contribution." The agreement "dictates that the county's bonds be issued by Dec. 31, 2014; that construction starts by Jan. 1, 2015; that the team takes occupancy by Dec. 15, 2016; and that all construction be finished by Feb. 1, 2017." The agreement runs through '47, with the Braves "having the option for a five-year renewal." The Braves "will hire the architect and construction manager." Of the team's $372M portion of the project, $92M "will be from additional bonds to be issued by the county and repaid" with $6.1M annual payments. The Braves have "full control of the stadium and will pocket revenue from concerts, festivals or other special events." The county can "host three events per year, and must use any earnings on paying debt service on the bonds until they are paid off." The memorandum states that the county and the Braves "will share responsibility 'on an equal, 50/50 basis' for all capital improvements, maintenance and repairs" (ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION, 11/20). In Georgia, Jon Gillooly reports the Cumberland Community Improvement District yesterday voted to commit $10M toward "transportation improvements" for the proposed ballpark (MARIETTA DAILY JOURNAL, 11/20).

BALLPARK BACKLASH: In Atlanta, Dave Williams reported government watchdog group Common Cause Georgia is "asking the Cobb County Commission to schedule a referendum on the county's proposal" to commit $300M toward the ballpark. CCG Exec Dir William Perry said, "Cobb voters have a right to have their voices heard on a project that would profoundly change the county." The group also "called for a referendum in Atlanta" on the Falcons' stadium, but was "unable to gather enough petition signatures to force a public vote" (BIZJOURNALS.com, 11/19). Also in Atlanta, Franco & Teichner reported, "A series of robocalls sent from a local tea party leader has some people upset in Cobb County." The call "asked people to press 1 if they were against any tax dollars" for a new Braves ballpark. After the button was pressed, the call "was transferred to elected officials" (MYFOXATLANTA.com, 11/19).
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