Much of the attention on Cobb County’s $300 million stadium subsidy deal for the Atlanta Braves has focused on the roughly $120 million a year that would be paid for by extending a hike in local property taxes. But the next biggest chunk of the public share — $5.15 million a year, or maybe $75 million worth of stadium cost total — would come from an increased business tax in the Cumberland Community Improvement District immediately surrounding the new stadium. The idea is that local businesses would get the bulk of the benefit from having the Braves playing next door, so they should be the ones footing the bill.
And what do the businesses themselves think of this logic? CBS Atlanta asked one:
Uncle Vito’s New York Pizza manager Richard Brown, whose business falls in the district, has his doubts.
“I don’t see us getting so much of a benefit that it outweighs the amount of taxes that we’re going to end up having to pay,” Brown said.
His company may not directly have to pay taxes, but the shopping center that his restaurant sits in would, which he worries could trickled down to him in the form of rent.
And he believes that Braves fans will end up getting meals inside the new stadium complex and might not patronize businesses in the area when the game’s done.
“The people are just going to the game and then they’re going home,” Brown said. “All it basically does is just cause a traffic jam for them.”
This is just one business owner, mind you, so it’s possible all his neighbors are just thrilled about taking on higher tax bills in exchange for baseball foot traffic. (Well, not foot traffic because no one will be walking to games. What do you call traffic when it’s in cars? Oh, right, “traffic.”) But Brown does have a point: The whole reason the Braves are putting in $372 million of their own money for this project, after all, is that they are hoping for increased revenues from a new stadium, and one way to get those is by sticking in more restaurants and souvenir outlets and other places for fans to spend their money without venturing beyond the stadium walls. And we’ve certainly seen local merchants complaining about crappy business outside other new ballparks.
But, hey, these guys don’t get to vote on it anyway, because the CCID can raise taxes without a vote of any kind, so who cares what they think? I mean, this guy cares, obviously, but he’s just some guy with a WordPress site, and — oh, yeah…