Your “Eyes On The Ball” Editorial on Thursday answered a couple of questions about the Atlanta Braves deal. It also raised new ones. Meanwhile it’s pretty clear the entire Cobb Chamber of Commerce, along with their cheerleader John Loud, Cobb Commission Chair Tim Lee and Atlanta Braves executive VP Mike Plant are joined at the hips and so enamored with each other that nothing can separate them. What a team. Together, in just a few short months, they’ve made baseball the most important issue in Cobb. They all claim they are great at hitting grand slams but even great hitters have slumps.
The first question is whether any other equally large business could approach our county commission and get the same commitment to spend almost $400 million of taxpayers’ money ($700 million-plus with interest) for a 30 year period without the prior approval of citizen. I seriously doubt it. That’s equivalent to giving the Braves almost $1,000 from every Cobb citizen. Are the Braves really worth the risk and the cost?
There was no transparency from the start by Tim Lee. He knew the more the citizens knew about the Braves offer that it would be more difficult for him to get the deal completed. His justification for keeping everyone uninformed was the tight time schedule to open in 2017. Getting everyone’s approval would slow down the process. His solution was to operate behind closed doors, keep citizens clueless and rush the deal through. Is that being open and honest? Is that how we want our elected officials to run our county? Is Tim Lee the King of Cobb or a chairman elected by the voters?
The truth is all the commissioners and many of the Chamber of Commerce members behind this potential fiasco will be long gone in 30 years or sooner. Our future leaders and citizens will be left with the problems and the debt.
According to “Murphy’s Law,” if something can go wrong, it will go wrong. So what happens to the stadium if something goes wrong in the next 10 or 15 years and the Braves cease to exist? The taxpayers will still be on the tab and nothing to show for their investment.
Plant claims the Braves wouldn’t have spent $49 million to buy 82 acres for the mixed-use plaza and stadium without a plan. So what’s the Braves’ Plan B?
Here’s another question that lingers. Does Cobb have enough staff to complete this gigantic project on time without asking taxpayers to reach in their pockets again to feed the pot? We all know cost projections are never correct and always low when a project is being sold.
This deal is very serious and not a game, but sometimes it feels like the Cobb citizens are being gamed.