Cobb County (Ga.) taxpayers are "still in the dark about how much" the Braves' planned ballpark and surrounding development will cost them, according to Dan Klepal of the ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION. Not even Cobb-Marietta Coliseum & Exhibition Hall Authority BOD members, who will "ultimately have to approve the financing deal, know the price, or where the revenue will come from to repay the bonds." Marietta Mayor Steven Tumlin Jr. said, "We're all on pins and needles." Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed on Monday said that Cobb has agreed to contribute $450M to the new ballpark, but Cobb County Commission Chair Tim Lee and the Braves have said that that figure "is inaccurate, while still refusing to comment on the amount." Lee "didn't budge from that position" yesterday. He said, "Those discussions are being put on paper and fine-tuned. It's important that when I make the announcement that I have it nailed down tight. ... I need to know I can stand behind it when we put something out" (ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION, 11/13). Lee said that Cobb County will release "detailed financial information before the end of this week." Lee: "Some of the information that was put out [Monday] from other news sources was inaccurate. ... When we bring forward this final document, it is my hope and my belief that the majority of folks will find that this is a win-win for Cobb County, a win-win for the Atlanta Braves and a win-win for the city of Atlanta and Fulton County" (BIZJOURNALS.com, 11/12). In Atlanta, Dave Williams wrote the Braves' plan yesterday "got some pushback" from Cobb County taxpayers. Cobb County Taxpayers Association Founder & Chair Lance Lamberton said, "We see this as an entertainment venture by a private-sector company. They shouldn't be going to the taxpayer" (BIZJOURNALS.com, 11/12).
PAYING THE PIPER: A MARIETTA DAILY JOURNAL editorial states Lee has "played it close to the vest and has declined to say whether property or sales taxes would be increased." Once the "euphoria of the Braves announcement wears off, he might find those such increases a tough sell to county residents, if they aren't already." However, if "most or all of Cobb's share of the deal is to be paid for via the hotel/motel tax or via revenue bond issue by the Cobb-Marietta Coliseum and Exhibit Hall Authority, Lee likely will find the going easier." It is likely that the stadium "will more than pay for itself and that its presence will unleash a flood of additional sales and hotel/motel tax revenues." But pro sports teams are "notorious for playing one community against another in order to benefit themselves." There is "no guarantee that even if the Braves move here is finalized, that the Braves won't start playing hardball against Cobb for a better deal later on" (MARIETTA DAILY JOURNAL, 11/13).
BRIDGING THE GAP: In Georgia, Jon Gillooly notes one feature Lee "believes will add to the accessibility" of the proposed ballpark is a "bridge that will span I-285, connecting the Galleria office park with the 60-acre property where the stadium is expected to be built." Lee said that the bridge "would be for pedestrians and for a shuttle that would pick up fans from around the area and bring them to the game." He added that the bridge, included in the projected $672M cost, "will be functional when the stadium opens" in '17. Meanwhile, Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal is planning a $951M "reversible lanes" toll-road project "along Interstates 75 and 575 through Cobb and Cherokee counties" which is scheduled to open to traffic in '18. Lee said that the county "will be able to place its Cobb Community Transit buses on those new lanes and take commuters to and from Atlanta." He added that there also is a "study the county expects to finish next spring that will reveal whether a bus rapid-transit system connecting Kennesaw State University with Midtown Atlanta is a viable option." Lee: "It's something we've prepared for, it's something we planned for, and we're moving forward on the projects before this (Braves announcement) even came about in anticipation of what we needed to do for the area" (MARIETTA DAILY JOURNAL, 11/13). Reed said, "Because of the transportation issues, if Cobb goes forward with this, they’re going to have to have rail. Which would be the first introduction of light rail" (AJC.com, 11/12).