The $672 million budget for the new Braves home near the intersection of I-75 and I-285 includes parking and related infrastructure. The Braves will pay 55 percent of the stadium cost, or $372 million, and Cobb County will pay 45 percent, or $300 million.
Judging from other stadium deals, it’s highly doubtful that Cobb could have done better.
For example, the new Minnesota Vikings stadium in Minneapolis will cost $975 million to be paid with $348 million from state taxpayers, $150 million from Minneapolis hospitality taxes and $477 million from the Vikings. And fans are expected to pay $125 million in behalf of the team via “stadium builder licenses” costing $2,500 upfront for seat rights required for 75 percent of the seats.
Then there’s the new Yankee Stadium for the New York Yankees, opened in 2009, costing a U.S. record $1.3 billion at the time and receiving taxpayer funding of $200 million to $450 million in city and state government subsidies plus $941 million in tax-exempt bonds from the New York City Industrial Development Agency.
As for the Braves deal, there are negatives in the form of new taxes. A new 3-mill property tax will be added to the self-imposed tax levied by the Cumberland Community Improvement District, generating $5.2 million. A new 3 percent car rental tax will be imposed countywide, and 30-year revenue bonds for $368 million will be issued through the Exhibit Hall Authority.
The county also will “reallocate” $8.7 million a year from existing property taxes. That means three outstanding general obligation parks bonds dating back to 1996 will be extended for another 30 years. It takes 0.33 of a mill to service the debt, and “that revenue stream will continue beyond the general obligation bonds and that revenue stream will be dedicated for 30 years,” said Jim Pehrson, county finance director.
Even so, when the bond debt service cost is spread to all Cobb citizens, Chairman Tim Lee says: “The average resident is going to pay $26 a year for millions of dollars in returned investment and the benefit associated with that. I think it’s a good investment by the Cobb County government on behalf of the taxpayers to spend $26 to create the returned investment we’re going to get in economic growth, the continued job creation, the expansion of our economy and all the opportunity that it provides for us, so I think that that is a good investment.”
The stadium project and related construction certainly will generate new jobs and taxes for the county. And landing the Braves — which every other metro county would love to have — will enhance Cobb’s ability to pursue new and relocating businesses.
If Cobb is going to play the pro sports game, this apparently is the best deal that could be made.