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.