At its regular meeting Wednesday at the Cobb Galleria Centre, the Cobb-Marietta Coliseum and Exhibit Hall Authority entered into an agreement with Atlanta-based Sutherland Asbill & Brennan LLP to help with the bond issuance.
Members of the authority in attendance at the meeting — Chairman Jerry Nix, Marietta Mayor Steve Tumlin, Smyrna Mayor Max Bacon, former county Chairman Earl Smith and developer Johnny Gresham — voted unanimously to approve the hire. Tim Lee, chairman of the Cobb Board of Commissioners and member of the authority, and developer Bob Voyles were absent.
The authority plans to issue up to $397 million worth of bonds to help finance the stadium.
According to development agreements signed by the authority, county and Braves, the authority will own the stadium and the Braves lease the facility for a 30-year lease period, contributing $6.1 million annually toward debt service.
Authority CEO Michele Swann said her group needed to hire the firm because the stadium financing is complex and the firm has a specialty in public finance.
Lee said hiring the firm was a necessary expense.
“The authority is actually going to be doing the issuance of the bonds. They need to have their own financial person on board to evaluate what’s going on and to help with that process,” he said. “It’s procedurally the best way to handle issuance of the bonds since they will be going through their organization.”
The firm estimates their fees will total about $70,000, according to the engagement letter. Swann said the fees will come from the proceeds of the bonds.
Although Superior Court Judge Robert Leonard validated the bond issuance Friday, the authority cannot issue the bonds until a 30-day appeals period is over, Lee said.
“We have to wait until Aug. 25 … (which is) the deadline for anybody to try to appeal that ruling. If nobody tries to appeal, then on Aug. 26, we will begin the process of issuing the bonds.”
The bonds will be issued all at once, Lee said. Once they are issued, the deed for the property the stadium will be built on, currently held by the Atlanta Braves, will be turned over to the authority, he added.