On a clear day you can see what the Braves will mean, financially, to local business
by Ricky Leroux
September 03, 2014 12:59 AM | 6319 views | 13 13 comments | 30 30 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Connie Engel, a Cumberland CID board member, looks out over the expanse of the Galleria, near  where the Braves will be relocating. <br>Kelly J. Huff
Connie Engel, a Cumberland CID board member, looks out over the expanse of the Galleria, near where the Braves will be relocating.
Kelly J. Huff
CUMBERLAND — Commercial property owners in the Cumberland area will contribute a total of $5.15 million each year to help fund the construction of the new $672 million Atlanta Braves stadium, but leaders of the Cumberland Community Improvement District expect nearby businesses will see a significant return on this investment.

On Feb. 25, the Cobb Board of Commissioners approved the creation of the Cumberland Special Services District II, a district with the same boundaries as the Cumberland CID that requires owners of commercial properties to pay an additional 2.7 mills in property tax to bring in the required $5.15 million. The millage rate could possibly be lowered as the value of property in the area increases, as long as the $5.15 million is generated.

Those funds will go toward servicing the debt on the bonds the county plans to use to finance the stadium’s construction, which could total up to $397 million.

Connie Engel of Vinings, a Cumberland CID board member, said the area will be transformed by the new stadium.

“I think it’s going to reset this whole area — that this is going to be, you know, kind of Braves country,” she said.

Engel is also a partner at Childress Klein Properties, which manages five of the six office buildings at the Atlanta Galleria. The properties she manages total about 2 million square feet of space. The office buildings she manages, located across Interstate 285 from the site of the proposed stadium, house about 129 companies with a total of about 5,000 employees, she said.

Engel said there has been an increase in the number of businesses inquiring about office space recently, and while she said she does not know if this is the result of the Braves’ move or the improved economy, interested companies have been asking to face the stadium site, something which didn’t occur before the stadium was announced.

“When people come to look at possible office space, for years and years and years, everybody always wanted to look downtown at the skyline,” she said. “For the last four or five months, everybody wants to look north, which is towards the ballpark. And you won’t be able to see into the ballpark; even from the top floor of our building, you won’t be able to see in because of the elevation. But you will know every time there’s a home run, and there’s a certain amount of energy coming from that being kind of a cool place.”

Engel said the total value of the properties she manages is about $750 million after 30 years of operation. The Braves and the county are surpassing this value in three years.

“Between the stadium and the adjacent development, they’re basically investing a billion dollars across the street. So, in three years, they will have matched our level of development. And so you can’t be anything else other than excited about that,” she said.

Engel, who has been on the board of the Cumberland CID since 1998, said she believes the stadium and mixed-use development will result in increased sales for businesses in the area and higher property values. While owners may not like paying the additional tax, “there are pretty high odds” of the value of properties in the area increasing after the stadium opens, Engel said.

Cobb Commission Chairman Tim Lee said the businesses in the area will pay a large portion of bond service, but they will experience the benefits of the stadium’s operation most directly.

“The bond debt will largely be paid for by the business community surrounding the project. This makes sense because they will also benefit by new business growth in the same area. I expect the (return on investment) for business will be visible in increased sales, higher occupancy levels and a new venue for commercial and retail space to complement the area,” he said.

According to an economic analysis study performed by Atlanta-based Brailsford & Dunlavey, the stadium’s operation will result in 4,014 new jobs — 1,926 of which are expected to be filled by residents of Cobb County. These employees will earn $60.8 million each year, the study states, with $15.1 million going to employees who live in Cobb. The study also states the stadium’s operation will generate $4 million in tax revenue for the county each year.

The expansion of Cobb’s tax base increases the ability of the county to provide services such as public safety, Lee added.

The Braves’ move may also result in unforeseen benefits to the area, Engel said.

“I think there are things that will happen here that we really don’t even know, that just kind of organically come about when you have that kind of venue in your backyard,” she said.

Tad Leithead, chairman of the Cumberland CID, which will contribute $10 million for infrastructure improvements related to the Braves stadium, said the rise in retail sales from the stadium and the mixed-use development alone will lead to a significant increase in tax revenue for the county. Restaurants in the area will also see more business after the stadium opens, he said, and the hotel industry will see a major surge in demand.

“My understanding is the Braves generate 400,000 hotel room nights annually. And that’s a huge number,” he said. “Now, they’ve been generating that, but they’ve been generating it downtown. Now that they’re out in Cobb, a lot of people will stay in hotels in order to be adjacent to the stadium. So, the existing hotels … are going to experience an increased percentage of occupancy just based on those additional room nights.”

Leithead said he has seen estimates saying 75 to 80 percent of the 400,000 hotel room stays will be at Cobb County hotels.

Additionally, Engel said there are developers looking to build hotels and apartments in the area.

“You’ve got a lot of people trying to build apartments. You’ve got a lot of people trying to build new hotels. They all believe that this is going to be a pretty great thing,” she said.

Traffic, parking issues

Engel said some business owners may have concerns about possible traffic problems resulting from the stadium, but she thinks the problem may not be as big as some imagine.

The Braves will play 81 homes games in the 2017 season, she said, and of those, only 41 will be played Monday through Thursday. Three of those games will be played on July 4, Memorial Day and Labor Day, Engel added, and she thinks four of the remaining 38 games will begin at noon and end before 5 p.m.

“So, you’re really now down to 34 days per year where you’ve got a baseball game the night of a workday,” she said.

Additionally, Engel believes the Braves chose the right time to move to the area as there are several transportation projects which were already underway, such as the $834 million, “reversible” lane project on I-75 and the $33.4 million Windy Hill Road diverging diamond interchange.

The reversible — or managed — lanes project will add new toll lanes on the west side of the interstate, which will reverse to ease congestion; the lanes will run south in the mornings and north in the evenings. The project is expected to break ground this month and be completed in spring 2018.

The diverging diamond interchange will allow vehicles to cross to the opposite sides of the road on the bridge when entering or exiting the freeway, eliminating the need for those drivers to make left turns. The Cobb Department of Transportation hopes to break ground on the project in fall 2015 and open the interchange in March 2017.

Engel said she believes the Cobb DOT will be able to handle any traffic issues resulting from the stadium.

“I have a lot of faith in them that they can get their arms around this,” she said.

Leithead said the site of the proposed stadium is accessible from multiple directions, which will help ease traffic in the area.

“The Braves have been concerned about traffic in their current location, and they made a decision to come to a place where they did not have those kind of traffic concerns,” he said. “You know, there’s essentially one way to get to Turner Field right now, and there’s 14 ways to get to the new site in Cobb County. So we’ll be able to spread that traffic over a wide variety of access points, and that will make a huge difference in terms of the ability to get to and from the stadium.”

Business owners have also expressed concerns about parking, Leithead said.

“They are concerned that their parking lot will fill up with Braves cars and they won’t be able to provide parking to their visitors,” he said.

The Braves are working on a plan to resolve the parking issues, Leithead said, but the ballclub tends to work internally, so he is not familiar with the details of any plan.

The Atlanta Galleria will not be part of the parking plan, however. Engel said the Braves approached her about using the parking facilities her company manages and she turned them down.

“We did have a conversation about parking. And so, we did explain that we just cannot offer up our parking facilities during games or events because that’s just not what we’re set up for,” she said. “We’re set up to serve the tenants here. And so, I think that was understood, and I think that has made a lot of our folks rest a little easier, knowing that they’re not going to have to worry about being able to park in their deck or coming back to the office at four o’clock in the afternoon of a gameday and having to fight crowds. So, I think it’s worked out great.”

Economic impact

4,014: Total new jobs

1,926: Total new jobs for Cobb residents

$60.8M: Total earnings for year

$4M: Tax revenue per year

*Brailsford Analysis

Connie Engel

♦ Position: Partner with Childress Klein Properties and board member of the Cumberland CID

♦ Home: The 30-year Cobb County resident lives in Vinings

♦ Family: Pete Watson, husband; Jackie Grech, 32, daughter; Sarah Oddsen DeCaro, 31, daughter; Ellis Watson, 21, son

♦ Education: University of Iowa, majored in communications

Comments-icon Post a Comment
Rich Pellegrino
September 04, 2014
Hmmm...Ms Engel wants the benefits but not the sacrifice...no parking for the Brave...NIMBY (not in my backyard syndrome).

The MDJ conveniently left out that the so-called "economic analysis study performed by Atlanta-based Brailsford & Dunlavey" did not take into account that nearly every other stadium project in the country predicted such rosy projections which never came to pass and left the taxpayer holding the bag. (Also, isn't it curious that this firm is tied to the firm which got the architectural contract....more back-room corruption.)

This whole thing stinks of the corrupt "Cobb Way" (just as corrupt as Dekalb however we hide it better).

September 03, 2014
I'm disappointed that the MDJ didn't do more research on this article. Many of the small businesses in the area will not benefit from the Braves Stadium. How are engineering firms, attorneys, and architects to benefit? They will only experience a traffic nightmare. How nice that someone thinks 34 days a year of traffic nightmares not a big deal. That is almost 7 weeks! As for the hotels, I know they do quite a bit of business as it is with various conventions and meet ings. Where do you propose to build more? Have you tried eating at one of the restaurants during the weekend? They are packed now.
Beancounter Eric
September 03, 2014
Gringo Bandito;

"Target-Rich Environment" - Think car break-ins, pick-pockets, purse-snatchers - I believe it reasonable to expect an increase in incidents of theft. Throw in some fans who've had too much to drink, and how much sheet-metal will be bent in the neighborhood. And this is not even considering the effects of the "entertainment district" - What crime effects will this create, and at what cost in additional public safety spending?

Excited Citizen
September 03, 2014
I am excited about the Braves moving to Cobb! I think it will really help the Cumberland Mall area. Growing up here Cumberland/Galleria was the place to go. I am hoping with the move that will be the case again!
September 03, 2014
I'm sure the empty stadium will be a lovely eyesore when the next gullible municipality that comes along with a better set of incentives for the Braves.
Chief Nok-a-Homa
September 03, 2014
Reasons to Reject Publicly Financed Stadiums

For Professional Sports Teams

1. Public Money for Private Gain. Providing public subsidies for private stadiums in corporate

welfare plain and simple. Public subsidies for stadiums go directly into the pockets of team

owners and players by increasing profits, player salaries and raising the re-sale value of the

team. According to one study, a new stadium increases team profits by an average of $11

million annually, payroll salaries by $14 million and increases team book value by $90 million.[1]

The billionaire team owners and the players profit, but the taxpayer doesn't see a dime.

2. Negligible Economic Benefits. Contrary to the claims of stadium boosters, the wide body of

economic research shows that new stadiums have little (and even negative) impact on the local

economy. Stadiums don't create new wealth; they simply redistribute existing entertainment

dollars from one form of entertainment to another. People spend more on sporting events but

spend less on movies, restaurants and other local entertainment.

3. Costs Outweigh the Benefits. A study by the Kansas City Federal Reserve Bank[2] found that

a typical baseball or football stadium costs taxpayers $188 million while generating only $40

million in long-term benefits from jobs and tax revenues. The costs of a stadium outweigh the

benefits by more than 4 to 1!

4. Destroys jobs and drives down wages. Recent studies suggest that stadiums actually

destroy more jobs than they create and reduce local income overall.[3] Because sports teams

require relatively few employees to operate, and most of they jobs are low-wage temporary

positions, they cause overall employment and income in a city to decrease when they drive out

other local businesses (which provide more jobs at better pay).

5. Stadiums can be built with private money. In their analysis of professional sports stadiums

built between 1989 and 2001, University of Dayton economics professors Marc Poitras and Larry

Hadley conclude that public subsidies to build stadiums are unnecessary -- new stadiums could

recover all of their construction costs if they were built with private money.[4] The Atlanta

Braves' Turner Field was built in 1997 with 100% private funding; San Francisco Giants' SBC

Park was built in 2001 with over 96% private funding.

6. Doesn't Improve Team Performance. A study of the impact of new stadiums on team

performance concludes that there is no strong statistical evidence to support the claim that

teams perform better after a new stadium is built. In fact, in football, basketball and hockey

team winning percentages actually decrease on average after a new stadium is built. Only in

baseball do team records improve -- by an increase of 8 wins (per season) on average.[5]

7. Doesn't improve team attendance. Research also shows that new stadiums have little impact

on long-term attendance. A study of the impact of new stadiums on attendance shows that

attendance increases by over 10,000 per the game the first season (the "honeymoon" period)

buy quickly dissipates to less than 2,500 per game in the fifth season. Case in point is the

Milwaukee Brewers $400 million Miller Park where attendance fell 40% last year from the

stadium's opening season in 2001.

8. Diverts resources from funding priorities. The costs of a stadium are even higher when you

factor in the opportunity costs. Money spent on a stadium is money that could have been spent

on schools, roads, and public safety -- service which benefit all Minnesotans
Beancounter Eric
September 03, 2014
Re. #8 - how about leaving tax money in the hands of the taxpayers?

Beancounter Eric
September 03, 2014
Throw in higher crime in the stadium area necessitating increased spending on law enforcement for which we get to pick up the tab.

As far as I am concerned, the Cumberland area will become a "no-go zone" as this project continues - I have no use for pro sports, nor for the "fun-seekers" who will frequent the area.

And to the businesses seeking "stadium-view" offices - don't want to be taken seriously, eh?

Gringo Bandito
September 03, 2014
There is high crime at the Georgia Dome and Turner Field because they were both built in the ghetto. There is no reason to believe that there will be increased crime due to the construction of a stadium.
September 03, 2014
Private profit, public risk.

To the vast majority of people in Cobb County this deal is going to cause nothing but traffic headaches and higher taxes.
Move On
September 03, 2014
I suggest you move back up north where you came from, one less vehicle on our roads. I may also suggest you doing some research on taxes.....Coob has the lowest of ANY metro county.
Beancounter Eric
September 03, 2014
And before you suggest I move north - I'm a native Atlantan...Cobb County resident for 20 years, Douglas County for 25 years before that.

Cobb may have the lowest taxes in the metro area -but should the county be spending taxpayer money in support of a private enterprise.

Ben Twomey
September 03, 2014
@Move on. The days of Cobb County's low taxes are rapidly grinding to halt, being spurred on by Lee's fiasco, in cahoots with property owners and Mayor Reid.

Why do you assume the man is form the North just bvecause he shows some good sense and sound logic, while you, on the other hand, are making noises like a high school cheerleader?
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