Tuesday’s vote a ‘single,’ but Braves’ move is still a home run
May 25, 2014 04:00 AM | 3530 views | 0 0 comments | 34 34 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Backers of the Atlanta Braves’ pending move to the Galleria area are ballyhooing Tuesday’s vote by the county commission on a series of contract and other Braves-related items as “a home run for Cobb.” In truth, those votes represent more of a solid hit up the middle that advances the runner — in this case, the Braves — another base closer to their new “home plate.”

The commissioners will be voting on a series of agreements with the team that will govern the construction and operation of the planned $672 million stadium; the funding for the project; a schedule for how ongoing maintenance will be paid for; and a guarantee that the Braves will remain as the anchor tenant of the stadium — and not relocate — for the next 30 years.

The county released hundreds of pages of proposed contract language late last month that fleshed out the original “memorandum of understanding” approved 4-1 by the commission last November.

Presuming the commission votes in the affirmative once again on Tuesday, the next step would be to start the bond validation process next month. Waiting in the on-deck circle are votes (July 1 and July 15) on the rezoning needed for the Braves’ planned mixed-use development adjacent to the stadium.

This spring’s votes on the Braves come against the happy backdrop of an improving local economy generating considerably more tax revenue for the county’s $372 million share of the stadium than was initially expected. The hotel/motel tax (that will be used to make the county’s annual $24 million payment on the $368 million in bonds to be issued for the stadium) was estimated to bring in $940,000 last November, but that now has been pushed upward to $1.2 million annually. And it was expected a 3 mill tax would be levied in the Cumberland tax district to net $5.2 million a year for the project — but growth in the tax digest means the tax will be lowered to 2.7 mills instead, according to Commission Chairman Tim Lee. The commission had been criticized for deciding to help finance the deal by continuing to collect $8.7 million annually in parks bond taxes even after the bond is paid off in 2018. Lee says that by 2018, the Braves’ move will already have generated $12.6 million from property and sales taxes — more than making up the difference.

“I am confident now more than ever — after having gone through this process with developing these long forms that are an extension of the (memorandum of understanding) and the modeling we’ve done — that this is most definitely in the best interest for Cobb County today and for decades to come,” Lee said earlier this month.

We would agree with that assessment. As noted above, Tuesday’s votes represent a single that moves the runner along; but overall, and in the long haul, the Braves’ move here will continue to be a home run for this community.

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