Hurdle cleared for Braves’ move to Cobb as BoC OKs contracts, including $397M for stadium
by Jon Gillooly
May 28, 2014 04:00 AM | 6242 views | 22 22 comments | 32 32 recommendations | email to a friend | print
MARIETTA — Commissioners on Tuesday voted in favor of allowing the county to borrow up to $397 million to build a new baseball stadium for the Atlanta Braves.

Commissioners also voted in favor of a series of contracts that spell out the terms of the relationship between the county and baseball franchise over the next 30 years.

American Builders 2017, a joint venture of four builders, was selected by commissioners as the construction manager to build the stadium, which is planned to open by April 2017 down the road from Cumberland Mall.

All votes were unanimous, except the resolution authorizing the issuance of up to $397 million in bonds.

Commissioner Lisa Cupid of south Cobb voted against the resolution, arguing the document was not released until after close of business Friday.

“I just don’t want to set a precedent that this is how we do business — that you can present changes at the last minute, and we’re not going to let it go through the public process,” Cupid said.

Commissioner Bob Ott, who represents the area where the stadium will be built, said he was satisfied with all aspects of the deal.

“I think there was a lot of time spent to craft the agreements in the best interest of the county, and I spent a lot of time reviewing the documents, sending in questions, getting answers back,” Ott said. “There were many tweaks or changes to the agreements tonight as a result of the questions that I had.”

During a press conference following the meeting, Mike Plant, Braves executive vice president of business operations, said the franchise locked itself into a contract with Cobb County for the next 30 years.

“There’s no business that’s in this county that has a guarantee that they’re going to be here for 30 years providing the jobs we do and the economic values and the economic impact that we do,” Plant said.

Public comment skirmish

Commissioners allow up to 12 people to speak during the public comment part of the meeting, based on a first-come, first-to- speak basis. Those 12 slots, each given five minutes time, were filled Tuesday by fans of the deal from Marietta attorney Justin O’Dell to Sally Macaulay, executive director of the Marietta/Cobb Museum of Art.

Seeing all public comment slots filled upset the same handful of critics who have regularly attended the meetings to criticize the county’s deal with the Braves, among them Rich Pellegrino, Ben Williams and Gary Pelphrey.

They shouted to be heard, a request Lee declined and were ultimately escorted out of the room by Cobb police officers.

Lee said after the meeting if they wanted to speak, they should have come earlier to sign up.

“The folks that chose to grab the media attention and put on a little bit of a display are the same people who have been in front of us a number of times in the last six months, all with the same message,” Lee said.

Pelphrey, a retired attorney, has a pending ethics complaint filed against Lee with the Cobb Board of Ethics.

Addressing the packed room, which was filled with residents wearing “Cobb Home of the Braves” T-shirts, Lee rebuked “the Atlanta media,” saying, “If you were to read and believe what you read by the Atlanta media you’d be grossly off course as to where we are tonight.”

Lee went on to say, “By reading what was provided over the weekend, you would assume that we were headed for chaos, destruction, uncertainty, failure, calamity, everything else associated with it, if you chose to believe what you read in the Atlanta media.”

Yet Lee said the opposite of disaster took place during the board meeting.

“It was the truth that was presented tonight, and the truth shall prevail to anybody that wants to take the time to go on and read each of these themselves,” he said.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution wrote Monday that the mixed-use development the Braves intend to build around the new stadium “remains little more than a handshake deal in the stadium development contract.”

Plant called the article “reckless, irresponsible and grossly negligent reporting, as far as I’m concerned.”

Plant cited the $49 million his franchise has spent purchasing the 82 acres of property where the stadium and mixed-use development will be built.

“We have spent millions of dollars on civil engineering, land planning, the master planning, running (a request for qualifications and a request for proposals) process to find our development partner, which we found, and will announce shortly. And obviously we’ve submitted a planning and zoning application for the entire mixed-use site for all phases,” Plant said.

One of the reasons the Braves chose to the leave Turner Field, Plant said, was the franchise’s inability to build a mixed-use development around the stadium.

“We have spent a lot of time and money to file our Development of Regional Impact application, and the bottom line is, what part of all of that has not demonstrated our commitment to do the mixed-use development, which is one of the reasons why we left? That was a material, substantive reason that we wanted to accomplish at Turner Field downtown. Why would we not move forward in accomplishing that here?”

Plant said the Braves have already spent $70 million on the mixed-use part of the development to date.

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Comments-icon Post a Comment
May 29, 2014
Bring on the Braves!! This is the most thrilling and intelligent thing that Cobb County has ever done. All of you naysayers need to move to another county and stop embarrassing Cobb. It's happening and it's a GOOD thing!

The Clown Crew that wanted to get up and talk are the same recycled faces we have to hear blather on and on. Rich Pellegrino is our answer to Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson. He just wants his mug to be seen. Rich should've planned out his 'busy schedule' a little better and gotten there in time to sign up.

Thank heavens for Mike Plant, Tim Lee, John Schuerholz...guys with brains and foresight and who actually are productive and innovative and get the job done. They had a plan and actually followed through. Imagine that.

Of course the AJC and 'Atlanta Media' is going to bash Cobb County and those involved with getting this amazing coup for our county. They're humiliated that they sat on their hands for almost TWO DECADES and did nothing THEY had promised to the Braves organization and the fans. If you people are going to gripe and complain, direct your anger at Mayor Reed and those guys because they dropped the ball! (No pun intended!!) Now let's play ball!
teh dirty dozen
May 29, 2014
At the meeting we definitely had twelve angry men who were not allowed to speak because twelve (other) people (all of them for the deal) "showed up early and signed up to speak."

We know the twelve people who did speak. We saw their faces. We have their names. Let's see the checkpoint surveillance video to see if their appearances actually match up with the times of their signatures!

Did they really sign up early that day in person ahead of everyone else, or do we have Tim Lee's Dirty Dozen with a prearranged sign-up sheet?

Only the MDJ can find out, but will they? Ain't no way! It wouldn't fit the agenda. Don't matter it could be a huge news story. Maybe the MDJ will investigate, but they would never run the story. If they discovered some dirt, it would go into the back pocket for later use, because that's how it goes around here.

MDJ, you are welcome for giving you this fine idea of lining up checkpoint surveillance with the signature!!! You better hurry before the surveillance video from that day "got erased," beause you KNOW that one is coming!
Tony Cain
May 28, 2014
A Memorandum of Understanding is not a legally binding contract. Neither is a handshake.

And we the taxpayers will pay back a lot more than nearly $400 million. There is the interest on the borrowed money and maintenance and operations costs. The interest and m. & o. costs for 30 years will be about $400 million.

We the people just got stuck with an $800 million bill. And don't forget to add all the extra costs for streets, buses, traffic lights, sidewalks and lights, water and sewer, extra police and vehicles, fire protection, etc., etc., etc. All told, this will cost us easily more than a billion dollars.
Public Safety
May 30, 2014
You don't have to worry about costs for Police/Fire going up. Tim Lee has already proven that he isnt going to give Public safety what it needs to do its job. The commissioners are jut going to let Public Safety suck it it up and deal with it as they have for years already!
Beancounter Eric
May 28, 2014
Bread and circuses!!

The people of Cobb County are being played - the politicians, power elite, etc. behind this travesty will reap the rewards while the taxpayers foot the bill - and for all the claims of the Commission, Chamber of Commerce, etc., we the taxpayers WILL foot the bill in the end.

How can Cobb County afford to build a stadium for a multi-billion dollar media company.....but cannot afford to fix potholes, time traffic signals, maintain a quality library system, or pay salaries to retain trained public safety professionsals?

May 28, 2014
The people of Cobb will not benefit from this boondoggle, only pay for too much for it. The commissioners should be canned. The whole thing (including the "public" meetings) stink to high heaven.
Chicken guy again
May 28, 2014
I was annoyed by Mr Lee not allowing opposion to appear until I saw the Chicken guy Mr. Pond as one of the ones complaining. I also read the funny comment about Atlanta annexing part of Cobb, which made my day as I see all the crazy's have come here. And the one who comments that the Braves will be gone in 10 years apparently never reading the article that they are locked in for 30 years. Seriously folks if you really don't have anything to contribute stay away and don't make fools of yourselves.
money is funny?
May 29, 2014
The idea of annexation is funny and crazy? Do you think City of Atlanta cannot exist outside Fulton County? Perhaps you are not aware of the part in DeKalb County.

Annexation is a routine matter where a city says "this adjacent property in an unincorporated area looks beneficial to us, so we will claim it as our own." It happens all the time. 30339 is adjacent to Atlanta, is unincorporated, probably looks very beneficial to City of Atlanta, and already pretends to be Atlanta.

That City of Atlanta with try annexation is a given. There is no doubt. What I wonder is whether they'll win, whether the CID long ago gave themselves representative power over accepting annexation on behalf of all businesses in the area, and how much the attorneys are going to cost me for the fight regardless of the outcome.

If CID is in fact annexed by City of Atlanta, Cobb will still get its motel taxes and county sales taxes, so it may not be the biggest disaster ever. CID would still be in Cobb despite also being City of Atlanta.

Maybe this deal is the Braves' big plan to unite metro Atlanta by forcing the different governments to get along and play nice!
May 28, 2014
First they lost the battle over the Kennestone ER expansion, now this. Its been a bad couple of weeks for the professional whiners.
Beancounter Eric
May 28, 2014
At least Kennestone serves a legitimate public purpose....the stadium falls in the "Bread and Circuses" range, less the bread.
what battle?
May 29, 2014
There was a battle over something at Kennestone Monopoly Healthscare?

How did that go?

Kennestone said "Wake up. We want this," and Marietta said "Well hold on just a sec I was sleeping... Now what did you want? Oh who cares, OKAY! IT'S YOURS!"
Pro Middle Class
May 28, 2014
So King George, A Slave Owner, and Adolf Hitler are transported in time to current Cobb County.

King George states, “I like this place, they have taxation without representation.”

The Slave Owner states, “I like this place, they hate paying for workers.”

Adolf Hitler states, “I like this place, they ask for papers on people they don’t like the look of, they use goon squads to usher out those that speak up.”

And they all decided to stay because it was there kind of place to live!

May 28, 2014
What a shady deal this whole thing has become. Cobb County Commissioners made sure those of us who are against this whole thing did not get an opportunity to make our statements. I think Tim Lee paid supporters to get there early so that we couldn't. CROOKS ALL OF THEM!!!
annexation coming
May 28, 2014
"If you built it, they will come."

They will come and they will ANNEX zip code 30339, including the new stadium area, into the City of Atlanta.

Annexation will be used to take the return on the investment we have been duped into. Just wait!

The city address for 30339 is already Atlanta, so how do you argue convincingly "No, this is unincoporated Cobb County, NOT City of Atlanta. The businesses and residents in this area do not want to be in the City of Atlanta. Never mind that they called themselves Atlanta for the last 30 years. City of Atlanta is NOT where they want to be." Who will buy THAT story when annexation of the whole CID by City of Atlanta makes its way through the courts?

Annexation will be fought between our very own Joker, Tim Lee, versus the dynamic duo Kasim Reed and Nathan Deal.

Does the Joker EVER win?

We need Cat Woman leading the Cobb County commission. She wins occasionally.

The only hope Cobb has for getting any direct return on this enormous investement is for Gov Deal not to be re-elected. We can't beat the Kasim/Deal double knockout punch when annexation is fought, and it WILL be fought. Just wait. Kasim and Deal have all the power. Tim Lee stands no chance against them. He is being played.

If Deal is re-elected and the power center for the state remains Reed And Deal, and we lose the annexation, fight, well, even the DUI revenue will go to City of Atlanta after annexation of 30339, but the construction bills will still come to us in Cobb County!

Our only hope is to play up Carter versus Reed. Reed is for Deal for Gov, of course, so hopefully although Carter and Reed are both of the D persuasion, hopefully D Carter will, ironically enough, save Cobb County from its commission as political payback for Reed picking Deal.

It's gonna be innerestin', to say the least!

Hopefully for our $billion lost to annexation by Atlanta, we will at least get commuter rail that will reach around and make us feel better about being taken advantage of
May 31, 2014
It should become either a new city of Vinings or Cumberland or better let the City of Cumberland with the village of Vinings. Or you could even have the city of East Cobb with the villages of Vinings, village of Cumberland, Village of Johnson Ferry, and the village of Windy ridge. it could have its own school district of high performing schools separate from the county. Since, this new development should eliminate most of the section 8 housing with best use either commercial, mixed use or luxury townhouse, cluster homes or high rises all $500 k to $2 million on up.

just like in Sandy Springs this new city will be given a chance to vote on zip codes by the post office. 30342, up to 30350 in Sandy springs a vote went out to all Persons who were Sandy Springs City residents on the vote and to all commercial business. A certain percentages of the residences and a certain percentages of the business have to passes it. It did not pass the commercial side of the vote in any of the Sandy Springs zip codes. It did pass in several of the Sandy springs residential since it would have meant a 1% automatic drop in tax on things shipped or delivered to your house ( now you have to fight with vendors and have them manually put in you live in Sandy springs. So all the residents of the city of Sandy Springs remain with a default zip code that puts their address as Atlanta, although you can override it to Sandy Springs. Which many feel is more prestigious.

A city hood movement in the Area of the new stadium needs to happen, but not with Atlanta. it needs to be a city like Sandy springs or Brookhaven or Dunwoody. ( you don't need west and North Cobb fringe right wing anti growth tea parties, interfering on the business growth hub of the county. That can best be handled by a local city that is pro business growth, who understands it takes money to bring development and jobs. The businesses and residences can all vote to keep the 300339 zip as Atlanta; they could vote to change the unlucky 30080 zip code for those unincorporated Cobb who have Smyrna who would now be in the Village of Vininings , Same with 30067 they could change 30067 to be the new city of East Cobb or City of Cumberland.

if anything I see the county of Milton splitting of and Buckhead desiring to join in as Buckhead village ( since ga already has a Buckhead. I also see Dunwoody, and Brookhaven wanting to annex into Milton. I do not see anyone wanting to annex intro Atlanta. At least not until the corrupt Reed regime is gone and we have replaced him with Mary Norwood as should have been done 5 years ago if votes had not been counted from lots with no houses and non-exist ant housing projects.
wheee promise!
May 28, 2014
This Cobb County stadium will be the first stadium in Georgia history to improve the area in which is it built, unlike all previous stadiums built in Georgia. We promise! Believe us!

Also, no light rail will be built to this stadium. Ever. Really. We promise! Believe us!

Braves foot bill
May 28, 2014
The Braves should foot the bill for the whole development. Why should CC residents be on the hook when ten years down the road, the Braves will be gone? Where do we benefit?
Joseph Pond
May 28, 2014
You failed to mention that those slots were filled by 2:45pm. Real people were still at work. The public comment portion was staged, as usual.

$49 Million is spit to loose to a baseball team. They will loose more money on Dan Uggla! The point is that there is NOTHING on paper about the mixed use development. The Braves did the same in Gwinnett.
Tom Barksdale
May 28, 2014
What a sad day for jourmalism when the MDJ ignores a crucial part of an important event. The starting time for the. Commissioners' hearing was 7:00pm. Citizens opposed to the BOC's handling of the Braves move arrived early to get their names on the list to speak--only to discover that pro-BOC speakers had filled all the positiions by early afternoon. Chairman Tim Lee smugly comments that this is perfectly normal.

Wow. What a great day for democracy in Cobb County. The universe of those allowed to speak at BOC meetings is hereby officially declared to be limited to those who have the ability to take time of from work to sign up hours before the meeting begins. That this travesty occurred is despicable. That an elected official declares it perfectly acceptable is outrageous. That the MDJ completely ignores it puts the final nail in the coffin of democratic norms in Cobb County.
Colleen Lance
May 28, 2014
Does anybody else see a correlation to the fairy tale "The Emperor's New Clothes"? Everybody in the room knew the emperor was parading around naked, yet they oohed and aahed about his new attire because he was the head guy. There is a void at the center of this arrangement that the "pros" are denying, the "cons" are trying to get revealed, and the oohing and aahing continue. This is a shady deal, and the people of Cobb County and anybody who drives through it in the vicinity of the "mixed use development" are going to pay the price.
casual observer
May 28, 2014
Whine, whine. Your group should have gotten there earlier, Tom.
checkpoint video
May 28, 2014
I would like to see the checkpoint video of all the speakers entering the building to sign up to speak at the times they supposedly did so. Open Records should make that available, but will any news outlet around here make the request? Ha!
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