Braves exec: Good thing this stadium deal was secret, or somebody might have objected

More tidbits about the Atlanta Braves stadium deal are floating to the surface today, what with Cobb County set to vote on it today and all, and they ain’t pretty:

  • Atlanta Braves president John Schuerholz apparently told a TV news reporter last week that it’s a good thing the deal was negotiated in secret, because “if it had gotten out, more people would have started taking the position of, ‘We don’t want that to happen.'” It’s the kind of thing you expect team officials to think — yes, it’s hard for opposition to form when nobody knows about the deal until two weeks before it’s voted on, thanks to county commissioners standing in the hallway to avoid a quorum — but not to say out loud, leading Deadspin to describe it as “so painfully lacking in self-awareness that it’s hard to imagine him saying it without adjusting his monocle.”
  • I can’t read it because it’s behind a paywall, but the Atlanta Journal Constitution has a story up with the headline, “Braves documents reveal no guarantees on private development,” which is pretty self-explanatory: The Braves are making no promises that they’ll actually build the surrounding retail/housing/whatever complex that has been held out as one of the main benefits of the stadium deal. Which is no surprise, since promising to build ancillary development but not committing to actually do it in this century is par for the stadium course, but it’s still not a good sign.
  • If you were surprised that the vote is today, you’re not the only one: As Creative Loafing reports, “Details about the vote, which will be followed by the issuance of the bonds later this year, were released after 6 p.m. on Friday.”

The Cobb County Commission meeting starts tonight at 7 pm, and streaming video should be available here. Let’s all meet up in comments and make quips! I get to be Crow T. Robot!


18 comments on “Braves exec: Good thing this stadium deal was secret, or somebody might have objected

  1. This is pretty much what happened in Orlando with the Magic, except neither the owner or the mayor was honest (or foolish?) enough to actually admit it.

  2. Wasn’t the football stadium vote in Atlanta left completely off the city council agenda? Certainly people were in the know (at least on the pro-stadium side as the Falcons had pro-stadium people in Falcons gear in attendance), but if you were just a regular schmoe interested in local politics and reading the minutes, you wouldn’t have known $300M in hotel tax was going to replace totally useful dome.

    Atlanta is pretty much Logan’s Run for stadia. Except that they don’t even make it to 30.

  3. Aw, man, I hate coming in to a movie in the middle. What’d I miss?

  4. All of the public testimony, apparently, since they’re already on to voting on things…

  5. Here at the meeting. All the speakers I heard were in favor. Many quoted a $132 million return $86 million over 10 years. But this is 30 years’ worth of debt. And where are the revenue numbers coming from?

  6. Only $86m in cost? Sounds like they’re only counting the new business tax, not the property-tax extension, because that’s, um, magic money that doesn’t count?

    And I have no clue where they came up with $132m in return, either. That’s not one of the numbers I can recall hearing bandied about.

  7. Aha, found it:

    It’s the projected property-tax revenues on the new development that the Braves may or may not build. (The stadium itself wouldn’t pay property taxes, though this 11alive article doesn’t seem to know that.) It’s also unclear whether the Braves development, if it ends up happening, would replace development that would otherwise occur in Cobb County — in other words, will people already looking to open business think, “Hey, let’s go to that place the Braves are building” — but apparenty these are the kind of questions the Cobb commission isn’t interesting in asking.

  8. Oops, that’s something for the Falcons. This one is the baseball stadium with 3 decks that may or may not be facing into the sun.

  9. Sigh. Buying politicians and fleecing the taxpayers is hard work. You have to keep pretending you believe in democracy while living the reality of plutocracy. It’s enough to drive a guy into his den and make him break out the Cuban cigars and 100 year old scotch!

  10. A few thoughts from last night’s meeting…
    Several speakers mentioned the fact that they left work early in order to “follow the rules” and get their names on the list for the public comment section of the meeting. They insinuated that this was evidence that they care enough to have their voices heard, while apparently others do not. There were 12 speaker slots available. People started lining up before 2 PM. Sorry, but some of us don’t have the flexibility in our jobs to leave in the middle of the day (particularly when this vote was announced after 6PM on a Friday before a holiday weekend, and took place one business day later). As a mom of young children, I was only able to attend the meeting because my husband’s business trip was cancelled at the last minute due to airline issues. I felt the speakers who harped on this issue – one of whom is an attorney in private practice, the others small business owners – came across as rather arrogant. When you’re the employee and not the employer – or you’re taking care of young children or an elderly parent – you can’t up and leave at lunchtime. Add to that the fact that only 12 slots were available, and I don’t think people should be so smug about having the chance to speak. Someone could have left work early and still not gotten their name on the list.

    One speaker mentioned media coverage of the lack of a written obligation to build the mixed-use development. This was apparently something the county had attempted to include in the development agreement, but the Braves fought it and won. This particular speaker brushed off the concern over this, saying that this wasn’t something that could ever be guaranteed, and besides, it’s the Braves’ actions (buying property, conducting feasibility studies, etc.) that matter. Well, in that case, let’s send all the lawyers home for a much-needed rest. Who needs anything in writing? I found these comments to be very naive, especially considering that much of the county’s economic justification for this project rests with the success of the proposed mixed-use development.

    I found the numbers questionable. Most speakers mentioned a $132-million return on an $86-million investment over the first ten years. They also mentioned $63.7 million for Cobb County schools in the first ten years. Not sure what – if any – overlap there is in these figures.

    The overall tone of the meeting was one of a pep rally. I find that disturbing when so much public money is on the line. It’s clear there is no respect for opposing voices, and while there was some seemingly good news in the development agreements approved last night (e.g., a non-relocation agreement), I’m still skeptical of the economic benefit and the overall boost for the county. Chairman Tim Lee used the “lift all boats” line, and frankly I have my doubts. He also urged folks to get their information from the county website and the “local Cobb newspaper” – implying that we should ignore the AJC and other sources. Hmmm…

  11. To be fair, the Marietta paper was the first one to post hard financial figures. I think they’ve done a good job on the stadium issue.

  12. Beth, thank you for your report. The speakers’ arrogance is so unfair- they are there to make money, in attourney’s fees or for their businesses or property values. You attend as a public service; you have just a portion of your taxes at stake, and maybe a favorite bit of public land. If we let every lobby take a peice of our public assets then our governments will be too stretched. Stay stong!