The indefatigable Dan Klepal of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution has unearthed some fresh public documents on the Braves stadium deal with Cobb County, and man, oh man, are they juicy. Klepal’s two articles so far are now behind the AJC paywall, but here are some highlights:
The Braves’ initial proposal, according to documents obtained by the AJC via open records requests, included:
- The county providing $442 million in cash to the stadium deal, pretty much exactly as the AJC initially reported, though the final number turned out to be somewhat less than that.
- The Braves demanding tax dollars to “move roads and build bridges,” something that is still being worked out, even as construction on the stadium begins.
- Team execs wanting the county to use its eminent domain powers to obtain stadium land, something that county negotiator Dan McRae underlined in the draft MOU, writing “no” next to it.
- The team initially proposing getting “all revenues from … train, circulator, bus or transit stops and vehicles” at the stadium.
- A county negotiator noting in October, shortly before the deal was finalized, that they expected they’d “get about $50 million from governor,” which so far hasn’t happened.
All this is an indication that all that negotiating in secret — a secret that carried on after the negotiations were concluded, since it took Cobb officials eight months to respond to the AJC’s open records request — at least accomplished something, in that county leaders did whittle down some of the Braves’ most lavish demands. Which is a silver lining, considering that Klepal also reported this weekend that Cobb Commission chair Tim Lee last year hired McRae as an outside stadium negotiator off the books, not even telling his fellow commission members what he was up to. This led to one of the greatest quotes in recent memory, from Emory University ethics professor Edward Queen:
“It’s either an issue of incompetence or unethical behavior,” Queen said. “Neither one reflects particularly well on the individual.”
Nobody from either the Braves or Cobb County is commenting much on these revelations, though the team did release a statement denying that it really meant to demand collecting bus fares from people riding public transit to games. Which is as expected, since the deal is more or less done, so traditional PR strategy is just to wait for the whole thing to blow over and everyone to ooh and aah over the new shiny thing. If only they could have held out on that open records request for a couple more years…