Commissioners also voted in favor of a series of contracts that spell out the terms of the relationship between the county and baseball franchise over the next 30 years.
American Builders 2017, a joint venture of four builders, was selected by commissioners as the construction manager to build the stadium, which is planned to open by April 2017 down the road from Cumberland Mall.
All votes were unanimous, except the resolution authorizing the issuance of up to $397 million in bonds.
Commissioner Lisa Cupid of south Cobb voted against the resolution, arguing the document was not released until after close of business Friday.
“I just don’t want to set a precedent that this is how we do business — that you can present changes at the last minute, and we’re not going to let it go through the public process,” Cupid said.
Commissioner Bob Ott, who represents the area where the stadium will be built, said he was satisfied with all aspects of the deal.
“I think there was a lot of time spent to craft the agreements in the best interest of the county, and I spent a lot of time reviewing the documents, sending in questions, getting answers back,” Ott said. “There were many tweaks or changes to the agreements tonight as a result of the questions that I had.”
During a press conference following the meeting, Mike Plant, Braves executive vice president of business operations, said the franchise locked itself into a contract with Cobb County for the next 30 years.
“There’s no business that’s in this county that has a guarantee that they’re going to be here for 30 years providing the jobs we do and the economic values and the economic impact that we do,” Plant said.
Public comment skirmish
Commissioners allow up to 12 people to speak during the public comment part of the meeting, based on a first-come, first-to- speak basis. Those 12 slots, each given five minutes time, were filled Tuesday by fans of the deal from Marietta attorney Justin O’Dell to Sally Macaulay, executive director of the Marietta/Cobb Museum of Art.
Seeing all public comment slots filled upset the same handful of critics who have regularly attended the meetings to criticize the county’s deal with the Braves, among them Rich Pellegrino, Ben Williams and Gary Pelphrey.
They shouted to be heard, a request Lee declined and were ultimately escorted out of the room by Cobb police officers.
Lee said after the meeting if they wanted to speak, they should have come earlier to sign up.
“The folks that chose to grab the media attention and put on a little bit of a display are the same people who have been in front of us a number of times in the last six months, all with the same message,” Lee said.
Pelphrey, a retired attorney, has a pending ethics complaint filed against Lee with the Cobb Board of Ethics.
Addressing the packed room, which was filled with residents wearing “Cobb Home of the Braves” T-shirts, Lee rebuked “the Atlanta media,” saying, “If you were to read and believe what you read by the Atlanta media you’d be grossly off course as to where we are tonight.”
Lee went on to say, “By reading what was provided over the weekend, you would assume that we were headed for chaos, destruction, uncertainty, failure, calamity, everything else associated with it, if you chose to believe what you read in the Atlanta media.”
Yet Lee said the opposite of disaster took place during the board meeting.
“It was the truth that was presented tonight, and the truth shall prevail to anybody that wants to take the time to go on Cobbcounty.org and read each of these themselves,” he said.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution wrote Monday that the mixed-use development the Braves intend to build around the new stadium “remains little more than a handshake deal in the stadium development contract.”
Plant called the article “reckless, irresponsible and grossly negligent reporting, as far as I’m concerned.”
Plant cited the $49 million his franchise has spent purchasing the 82 acres of property where the stadium and mixed-use development will be built.
“We have spent millions of dollars on civil engineering, land planning, the master planning, running (a request for qualifications and a request for proposals) process to find our development partner, which we found, and will announce shortly. And obviously we’ve submitted a planning and zoning application for the entire mixed-use site for all phases,” Plant said.
One of the reasons the Braves chose to the leave Turner Field, Plant said, was the franchise’s inability to build a mixed-use development around the stadium.
“We have spent a lot of time and money to file our Development of Regional Impact application, and the bottom line is, what part of all of that has not demonstrated our commitment to do the mixed-use development, which is one of the reasons why we left? That was a material, substantive reason that we wanted to accomplish at Turner Field downtown. Why would we not move forward in accomplishing that here?”
Plant said the Braves have already spent $70 million on the mixed-use part of the development to date.
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