The group, called Cobb Home of the Braves, conducted a news conference Monday announcing six billboards have been placed around the county ahead of a May 27 vote for the proposed $672 million Braves stadium.
The billboards read “Braves, a home run for Cobb.”
Commissioners will be asked to approve a series of agreements with the Braves to govern the construction and operation of the stadium, funding for the project, how ongoing maintenance costs will be paid for and a guarantee the Braves will use the stadium for the next 30 years, said Robert Quigley, county spokesman.
“Tuesday is when the home run happens,” said John Loud, president of Loud Security Systems and an organizer of the rally. “We’re looking for that grand slam for Cobb County.”
The billboards are located at Sandy Plans Road, the intersection of Canton Road and Blackwell Road, Cobb Parkway at Hargrove Road, the intersection of I-285 and I-75, the intersection of I-75 and South Marietta Parkway and the intersection of North Cobb Parkway and Mars Hill Road.
Organizers handed out signs and foam tomahawks to the about 80 people in attendance as nearby construction crews continued clearing land for the development Monday. The rally was at the proposed stadium site near Cumberland Mall.
The group chanted “Home run for Cobb County!” as the news conference ended. The group also relaunched its website, CobbHomeoftheBraves.com, for the occasion.
Cobb Home of the Braves launched a similar ad campaign in November encouraging residents to support the proposed stadium.
Group’s second ad campaign
Though the group launched TV commercials in November, they said this time they will stick to billboards.
“It’s really about community pride,” Loud said. “We’re standing in the dirt to show the support for the leaders that we have in Cobb County.”
The billboards will be in place through June 2.
Loud would not say how much was spent on them, but said they were paid for by Cobb Home of the Braves.
Businesses behind the group include Kennesaw-based Superior Plumbing, Marietta-based Archer Restoration Services, Marietta-based O’Dell & O’Neal Attorneys, Kennesaw-based Click Host and Marietta Signs.
Cobb Home of the Braves also has paid for T-shirts, foam tomahawks and handheld signs seen at rallies and commission meetings with stadium votes on the agenda.
Cobb Commission Chairman Tim Lee has publicly thanked the group, calling them “critically important” to spreading public awareness about the stadium project.
Other speakers Monday included Mark Morgan with High Caliber Realty and Don Keller, owner of Blue Sky Exhibits. Morgan and Keller went through a list of things they said were misconceptions about the stadium, including worries about traffic and higher taxes.
“The county already had plans in place to invest over $1 billion into this area to improve traffic here in Cobb County,” Morgan said. “I hear a lot about the Braves and how much traffic congestion it will cause. When you sit down and think about it, you’re looking at 81 games that will be played here at home. A lot of those games are on weekends when we don’t have the business traffic. Some of them are during the afternoon at 1 p.m. or 2 p.m. So there’s really a very small percentage of games that will affect actual rush-hour traffic.”
That $1 billion investment is in the form of a Windy Hill Road diverging diamond interchange, improvements to the on-and off-ramps at Windy Hill Road, a widening of Cobb Parkway from Akers Mill to Paces Ferry Road and a bridge replacement for Cobb Parkway over the Chattahoochee River. Those projects total to $76 million, according to Cobb Department of Transportation director Faye DiMassimo. The figure also includes a reversible lane project for I-75 through Cobb and Cherokee counties expected to open in 2018 at a cost of $840 million. Together, those projects add to $916 million.
“In addition, we have funding for transit, operational and pedestrian improvements under development that brings the total investment underway or planned to approximately $1 billion,” DiMassimo said.
Morgan also addressed financing of the stadium.
“The Braves and Cobb County have had a team of legal experts confirm that the financing approach is not only legal, it is the customary approach governments have used to fund economic development initiatives all across the country,” said Morgan.
Keller pointed out taxes will not be raised for homeowners, and said no tax money will be taken from the school system.
“There are a lot of things being said about this opportunity,” Keller said. “But we are lucky, and I think we need to start showing some positive support on how lucky we are.”