Economic benefit of planned Braves move outweighs costs to county
by Don McKee
November 12, 2013 11:57 PM | 4394 views | 9 9 comments | 38 38 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Don McKee
Don McKee
The move by the Atlanta Braves to Cobb is a homerun for this county.

The economic impact will be huge, the new stadium “will be one of the most magnificent ever built,” according to Braves president John Schuerholz, and a mixed-use development near the stadium will add a whole new destination of entertainment, dining, shopping and probably hotels.

Schuerholz has said he is “100 percent certain” the Braves will build a $672-million, 42,000-seat stadium at I-285 and I-75 across from the Galleria. As far as I’m concerned, you can take that to the bank. Schuerholz has strong management skills but, most importantly, he has integrity. He is not given to hyperbole.

Of course, the other part of this equation is the Cobb County Board of Commissioners which has to approve the memorandum of understanding that Chairman Tim Lee will present Nov. 26. He said the memorandum will give details of how the stadium will be financed.

Lee said, “It’s a public-private partnership that reflects the conservative nature of Cobb County in its execution and it’s anticipated it will be considered a win-win for everyone involved.”

Mixing metaphors, this deal should be a slam dunk for commissioners. Lee has talked with his colleagues, and three have expressed support for the deal — Bob Ott, who represents the area where the stadium will be built and is an enthusiastic cheerleader for it; JoAnn Birrell of northeast Cobb, home to lots of Braves fans; and Helen Goreham of the northwest district, also home to plenty of Braves fans. That’s a majority of the commissioners.

What is so appealing to the commissioners is the economic impact which obviously will be very substantial. What’s not so appealing is the traffic congestion associated with games at the stadium and other events in the development. Even so, there are some favorable factors that should affect that problem. In addition to existing roads accessing the site, those “managed lanes” along I-75, courtesy of Gov. Nathan Deal, will be open when the stadium debuts in 2017. There also will, no doubt, be other infrastructure improvements to accommodate and alleviate traffic in the stadium area as part of the deal.

Commissioner Ott says 99 percent of Cobb taxpayers should not be faced with a tax increase because of the stadium project. Instead, he said, “The businesses around there are going to be footing the bill.” That refers to the Cumberland Community Improvement District whose businesses impose a tax on themselves for infrastructure improvements — and they will help with the stadium deal, no doubt.

But the stadium will be owned by the Cobb-Marietta Coliseum and Exhibit Hall Authority, which already owns Cobb Galleria Centre and Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre. The authority issued $57 million in 25-year bonds for the performing arts center, built at a cost of $145 million in 2007 and being paid by hotel-motel tax proceeds. Presumably, the same track can be taken for the Braves stadium.

Yes, there will be costs, but in my view, the benefits will outweigh the costs.

Comments-icon Post a Comment
November 13, 2013
It is really amazing how baseball teams can sucker a city or region again and again. No other industry demands and gets their buildings paid for them.

Let's review what was covered in this article

1) The Economic impact will be huge. Yes, it will be huge - for the new revenue for the baseball team only. Please see the Miami Marlins brand new stadium and ask how it has benefited that community and it was opened only two years ago.

2)Probably hotels - I've been to Turner Field and it hosted the Olympic Games in 1996, what amenities and hotels did it attract to the area? If the biggest sporting event in the World cannot turn around a neighborhood, why would a new stadium do that in Cobb County.

3) John Schuerholz is a man of integrity - the real fact here is John Schuerholz is a man looking to maximize the revenue for the Atlanta Braves and himself. I'm not sure how much integrity a man has by doing it on the taxpayers dime.

4) I don't know how any of the Cobb Country Commissioners can sleep at night knowing that they are giving hundreds of millions of dollars to a baseball team, yet funding has been cut from schools in the region. $672 million is a lot of money, but reality is this project will cost closer to a BILLION dollars when it is complete in 2017. Don't believe me? Think about all the aspects that haven't been covered in the plan - transit, parking, cost increases, and future repairs - all of which won't be paid for by the team itself.

5) Finally, this article displays no actual COST BENEFIT ANALYSIS, which is what Cobb County realistically needs to look at. Will jobs be created? Yes. Will good jobs be created? No. Most of the jobs at the ballpark will be minimum wage and only for 81 days a year.

6) Most likely in 20 years (or sooner) the Braves will leave Cobb County for downtown core of Atlanta. Don't believe me? Would you have believed in 1997 that the team would be getting a new stadium in 2017?

Cobb Country tax payers, don't let your Commissioners ruin your lives because they like baseball. Please review what has happened with Marlins in Miami and is happening with the Vikings in Minnesota. I know you can make the better decision.
November 13, 2013
This is an intellectually dishonest, vapid editorial. It's cheerleading, and not particularly insightful. The two arguments used. "the economic benefit will be huge" and "taxpayers should not be faced with a tax increase" aren't very helpful. How huge will the impact be? Give me a real number before you tell me that it will be beneficial. How can you know it will have a huge impact, unless you're just parroting the party line fed to you by the people who stand to benefit the most from this--the owners of the Atlanta Braves.

And as for the tax argument, well, this fails to consider some pretty fundamental economic principals. Trust me when I tell you that businesses that get taxed have this annoying habit of passing that tax onto consumers in the form of higher prices.

Look, I get it, it would be awesome to have the Braves in Cobb County. I would respect an opinion that says, "Hey, I know that this might not be economically the greatest deal for taxpayers, but I still want them here, and I am willing to pay my share to get them." That, at least, would be honest. This? This is useless.
November 13, 2013
What an embarrassing article. No numbers at all. Just a bunch of propaganda by the Braves that all will be well. But hey, Schuerholz says we can "Take it to the bank!" So we got that going for us! What a joke...
November 13, 2013
Now that you've dutifully licked the boots of the powers that be, could you actually provide a single number that backs up any of these ludicrous win-win claims?

Another boondoggle, another wealth transfer to the rich.
November 13, 2013
Point me to a single study showing a positive economic impact by hosting a sports team. Just one (and not one funded by a sports league).
November 13, 2013
Odd how there are no actual, mathematical numbers in this. Seems like a pretty condescending pat on the head to Cobb co. residents, simply saying "trust us, this is fine."
just sayin
November 13, 2013
"A win-win for everyone involved", what could possibly go wrong!
November 13, 2013
The tax payers better practice bending over and taking it. How many businesses are there that they intend to hit up for $450 million in taxes? In return you get 5,700 people working 82 days of the year and a dead zone covered in concrete. How much was Mr. McKee paid to shill for this project?
Atlanta resident
November 13, 2013
I'm grateful to the taxpayers in Cobb county for agreeing to pay for a light rail transportation option to the proposed stadium. I'm looking forwarding to just hopping on MARTA rail and seamlessly transferring to the new CCT rail. That will work well for me and I won't have to pay a penny to build the new system.
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