The Cobb County Board of Commissioners voted 5-0 last night to approve the development, construction, and operating agreements for a new $622 million Atlanta Braves stadium, after a meeting that was less a debate than a coronation. Not only was the vote unanimous (for most of the plan elements; commissioner Lisa Cupid cast a token vote against the stadium bonds themselves), but every speaker during the public comment period spoke in favor of the plan — not all that surprising when you consider that only 12 people were allowed to sign up to speak, and plan supporters showed up at 2 pm on a workday to fill the speakers’ list.
Meanwhile, four stadium opponents were removed by police before the meeting started for “disrupting” it, “when it became clear early on they would not be allowed to speak and they approached the front of the room to ask the commission to create more speaking slots.” (Here’s a lovely photo of Ben Williams of the Southern Christian Leadership conference being disruptive by standing around with his hands folded.)
What nobody seems to be reporting — and maybe the Cobb Commission isn’t revealing — is whether the county now plans to go ahead with selling stadium bonds before coming to agreement on the all-important transportation plan, which apparently doesn’t even exist yet in draft form, and which could end up putting the county on the hook for an additional $160 million in highway and transit improvements. Admittedly, with the commission already so gung-ho about sinking $276 million into a baseball stadium it will get no direct revenues from, it’s unlikely that having to build a bunch of roads too would stop them; still, it’d be nice to actually figure out the whole financing plan before starting construction, especially given how the alternative has worked out before.