Around Town: Going its own way: Cobb didn’t repeat Gwinnett’s errors with Braves
by Joe Kirby, Otis A. Brumby III and Lee B. Garrett, - Around Town Columnists
January 13, 2014 11:59 PM | 6435 views | 8 8 comments | 81 81 recommendations | email to a friend | print
COBB SEEMS TO HAVE LEARNED from Gwinnett’s mistakes when it came to negotiating with the Atlanta Braves organization, according to KSU professor of Sport Management Dr. J.C. Bradbury.

Gwinnett used public dollars to build a minor-league stadium for the Braves. The contract there does not have revenue guarantees and instead requires the Braves to pay that county a percentage of revenues from things like parking and naming rights. As it turned out, revenues have not met the rosy projections and the county has gotten only about half of what it expected, Bradbury told Around Town last week.

“In Cobb, if parking revenue is not what is expected, the Braves have to eat that,” Bradbury said.

Also unlike Cobb, Gwinnett’s Memorandum of Understanding with the Braves was never released publicly.

“Cobb’s process was not perfect, but it was certainly more open that Gwinnett’s,” he said. “Over there, the stadium and the land deals for it have become a symbol of the bad leadership they’ve had. I don’t see that happening in Cobb.”

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COBB Chairman Tim Lee referenced the Braves move at several points during his annual “State of the County” address to 600 business leaders at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre on Monday. He also was sure to let the audience know who wasn’t in attendance.

“Commissioner (Lisa) Cupid, for some reason, was not here this morning,” said Lee, who went on to recognize Commissioners Bob Ott and JoAnn Birrell, and give a special shout-out to retiring Commissioner Helen Goreham.

Cupid was the only commissioner who voted against Lee’s efforts to bring the Braves to Cobb.

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NOVEMBER’S NEWS that the Braves were moving here blind-sided nearly everybody, but Bradbury says it was inevitable — even though he concedes he was just as surprised by it as everyone else at the time. Not only are a preponderance of fans on Atlanta’s Northside, the move reflects the changing demographics of the workforce, Bradbury said.

“And the move might be a bellwether for other stadiums around the country,” he said. “When Turner Stadium was built it was very common for people in North Fulton and Cobb to work in downtown Atlanta five days a week. They’d get off work and go to a game. But I don’t know a single person who has that lifestyle anymore, even though Downtown is revitalized from what it was 20 years ago. And even those who do work downtown probably telecommute from home two days a week.”

The difficulties of getting to Turner from the Northside made spontaneous decisions to take in a game a rarity, the professor said.

“I live in Marietta and having the stadium 10 miles from my house will mean going to a lot more games. And going to a game at Turner on a school night makes it really tough for you to take your kids. It means getting them to bed a midnight, versus maybe 10 after a game at the new stadium,” he added.

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MEANWHILE, Braves Chief Operating Officer Clint Moore of Kennesaw, who was guest speaker at last week’s meeting of the Marietta Metro Rotary Club, said that traffic congestion at the new stadium will be eased by the fact that there are 13 or 14 access points to its new location, as opposed to just a couple at Turner.

“Our fan base will be coming from multiple directions, versus funneling all down 75 to go to Turner Field. I think that will help a lot, especially for the folks from Cobb and north Fulton and the western side,” he said.

The Turner parking lots were designed for now-demolished Fulton County Stadium in 1965 and there was only one access point back then directly off I-75, he said.

“And you have that same one access point now. We were never really part of the thought process when the interstate was being redesigned,” Moore said.

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UNLIKE what’s planned here, the Braves did not own the environs around Turner and the City of Atlanta did little to try to revitalize the area. By contrast, the Cobb plans represents the team’s “dream income model,” he said.

Yes, the average Cobb taxpayer will be paying around $50 more per year in property taxes for the stadium.

“It’s like your friend who has a Costco membership he doesn’t use much, but he keeps renewing it. (The tax increase) is not that much per year, so that’s why you don’t see that much opposition,” he said.

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MERGER: The Expanded Consolidation Implementation Committee for Kennesaw and Southern Polytechnic state universities is expected to recommend the “new” KSU that results from the merger of the two institutions consist of 13 schools, up from the nine at present at KSU. And one of the new schools would be known as the Southern Polytechnic College of Engineering and Engineering Technology.

That was one of several recommendations expected from the 46-member committee, which held its first meeting Monday and includes KSU President Dr. Dan Papp and SPSU President Dr. Lisa Rossbacher.

The merger of the two Cobb colleges into a “new” KSU was decreed via a bombshell announcement by the state Board of Regents last fall in the name of cost-cutting and efficiency.

The committee also was expected that the new school feature an Honors College modeled after that at the University of Georgia that features smaller classes and closer mentoring relationships as part of an effort to make the school more desirable to high-performing students and keep them from leaving the state to pursue their educational goals. The new university would have four named colleges and would stand to get a potential fundraising boost via the nine additional naming opportunities, according to Rossbacher.

One of the biggest challenges will be trying to fold together departments and courses in cases which are featured at both schools, rather than just one or the other, sources predicted.

The new KSU will make use of both campuses, and the KSU shuttle bus will begin regular swings to the SPSU campus seven miles away, she said.

Officials anticipate the consolidation plan will be presented to the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools in October with approval by that accreditation body hoped for by December. It then would go before the Regents with approval hoped for in January 2015. So students might be able to obtain a KSU/SP School of Engineering and Technology diploma as early as the spring 2015 or December 2015 graduation ceremonies.

SPSU’s Rossbacher has been a key player in the transition talks and is described as being “nothing but professional and helpful,” despite being in an awkward position and earning a great deal of respect among her peers.

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Rossbacher is currently a finalist for the top job at Southern Utah University.

SERVICES will be at 1:30 p.m. Saturday at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Marietta for the late Sherman Martin, 96, a 49-year company veteran who played a crucial role when the plant was reopened in 1951. …

Our condolences as well to Cobb Solicitor Barry Morgan on the death of his father, Harold Morgan, 85, Sunday evening. Visitation is from 4-8 p.m. Tuesday at Winkenhofer Pine Ridge Funeral Home with services there at 1 p.m. Wednesday.

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POLITICS: Joann Birrell will kick off her re-election campaign for the District 3 seat on the Cobb Board of Commission representing northeast Cobb at a 5:30-7:30 p.m. fundraiser Feb. 27 at the Cherokee Cattle Company. RSVP at (404) 394-9601 or joann4Dist3@gmail.com. ...

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THE COBB Landmarks & Historical Society holds its annual membership and awards meeting at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Whitlock Inn, with a reception to follow at The Anderson House next door.

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BACK TO THE BRAVES: Cobb residents will need plenty of umbrellas for the next few years, predicted Moore, who has been involved with construction deadlines for numerous stadiums built for the Braves’ minor league teams.

“I have learned that building a stadium is a drought-breaker, so we will have wet weather for the coming three years,” he declared.

Comments
(8)
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Ballpark Frank
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January 16, 2014
Is this stadium deal really all upside and no risk, seriously? This is what we know as fact - the Braves' annual stadium costs are going to increase by tens of millions of dollars per year compared to the relative pittance the team pays to play at Turner Field. But all of these expected new revenues to pay the bills - those dollars are totally speculative. A Braves' ticket is currently one of the cheapest in baseball. The only thing we know for SURE is that it is going to cost more to attend games in Cobb County - a LOT more than the extra cost of gas to drive 12 miles further south to Turner Field. Unfortunately, if you can't afford the tickets, it doesn't really matter how convenient it is to get to the ballpark. What happened to the Miami Marlins after they moved into their spectacular new stadium - justified by the exact same economic arguments we have heard from the County, Chamber of Commerce and the Braves since November? Read the Miami Herald. Attendance and revenues didn't increase as planned. The team's owner had to slash payroll to cover the added stadium costs, the team soon stunk, nobody came to the games, redevelopment didn't happen and the locals are incensed. Too bad empty seats don't create jobs. That's the "risk" with this deal.
scottbravesfan
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January 22, 2014
The Braves are one of the most popular baseball teams in America. The Marlins have no fans. The Braves have drawn over 2 million fans for 23 straight years. That's averaging over 30,000 fans a game. During that same 23 year period they have drawn over 3 million fans 6 times. If that isn't a large enough sample size to reassure you that there will be patrons to this stadium, I don't know what is.
bran_brano
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March 11, 2014
The SPSU Merger with Kennesaw will cost more money than it saves. Estimates of the Merger cost are in the order of $100-250 Million for infrastructure improvement based on previous mergers in similar situations. The new football team that SPSU and KSU create by their merger will generate 1.15 billion dollars in revenue which will not flow back into the school. The new tution should be about 1000 dollars more a semester.

Hard to believe
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January 14, 2014
“When Turner Stadium was built it was very common for people in North Fulton and Cobb to work in downtown Atlanta five days a week. But I don’t know a single person who has that lifestyle anymore..."

Really? You don't know a single person who commutes from N. Fulton or Cobb 5 days a week? Well that either means our traffic problems are solved or you don't know many people.

Also, I don't think Cobb property taxes are going up to support the stadium but if they go up $50 as you suggest you better believe people will complain. They're still complaining about a $12 increase in 2011.

Connie Mack Jr
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January 14, 2014
“Commissioner (Lisa) Cupid, for some reason, was not here this morning,” said Lee, who went on to recognize Commissioners Bob Ott and JoAnn Birrell, and give a special shout-out to retiring Commissioner Helen Goreham.

Cupid was the only commissioner who voted against Lee’s efforts to bring the Braves to Cobb.* ATMDJ

No doubt Commissioner Lee thinks Commissioner Cupid is a Traitor to the 1% Club and should be the Battling Cage for the Fascist Corporate Braves.

Commissioner Cupid is a great American and knows what reality is in these tough time for the little people where Commissioner Lee thinks He has created a Corporate 1 % Paradise in Cobb

Frank Miele
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February 17, 2014
Cobb County is going forward with its grandiose plan to fund the construction of the half-a-billion dollar stadium complex for the Atlanta Braves. That money does not include the infrastructure improvements that will be needed to accommodate the project. Yet, Cobb doesn't quite seem to have the money to pay its teachers their full salaries. Last Thursday, Friday, and tomorrow, are unpaid furlough days for Cobb teachers. In addition, there were three furlough days during the Fall semester. With the proliferation of subdivisions and McMansions, particularly in East Cobb, there should be more than enough tax revenue to cover salaries and school related projects, but the money just doesn't seem to be there. Not only does this affect the teachers, but it shortchanges the students who are trying to get an education. Is this the result of mismanagement, or simply an example of warped priorities?
Between Lines
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January 14, 2014
Braves COO Clint Moore-Yes, there will be more points of entry and exit for the Cobb Braves stadium, but look at the roads around the I-75/I-285 area now. In case you have not noticed, here is a news flash...It is already crowded. And the Braves will be playing on average 3 times a week. That is more cars added to the crowded roadways at least 3 times a week. NOT like it would be with the Falcons...ONE time a week and usually on a Sunday. BIG difference.

We all know this move is about MONEY. And money rules.
Southern Tech Proud
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January 14, 2014
AT editors- of course President Lisa Rossbacher has been "nothing but professional and helpful" in the forced takeover of SPSU by KSU. She is the President of SPSU and as a Southern Tech graduate I expect nothing else. Thank you President Rossbacher and I am sorry for the "shaft" that you are getting.
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