Lawyers the Atlanta Braves have filed a brief responding to the lawsuit charging that Cobb County’s issuance of stadium bonds is illegal because it’s not a “public purpose,” and oh, it is an awesome brief. The reason why stadiums are a public purpose, it turns out, is that everybody knows they are, duh!
The government’s “ability to issue bonds for recreational purposes is broad and well-settled,” the Braves’ brief says. “In the 20th and 21st centuries, financing and constructing sports stadiums and related facilities has repeatedly been held to be a public purpose.
“Opponents of stadium bond financing often point to private benefits in an attempt to undermine the public purpose — and ultimately the constitutionality — of the bonds that have been used. Courts have routinely rejected those arguments because the existence of private benefits is not dispositive — in fact, it is expected.”…
“Each municipality may have its own reasons — economy, tourism, public desire, or city profile — but the end result is almost universally a finding that a public purpose is served …. as long as a recreational benefit of a reasonably general character is conferred on a significant part of the public.
“Any other arguments are simply beside the point.”
I could line up a long list of economists, urban planners, and even sports fans to testify that building new sports stadiums — especially when you’re just replacing an 18-year-old one a few miles away, as the Braves are — is solely for private profit, not public benefit. But that’s beside the point, as the Braves ownership is clearly staking its defense on the fact that courts have ruled in favor of stadium bonds being a public purpose before, so clearly they must have been right, right? Not any Georgia courts, apparently — the Braves lawyers didn’t cite any Georgia case law despite this being a state supreme court case, as the attorneys for the plaintiffs quickly pointed out — but lots of other courts. Are you saying that you think you know better than other states’ supreme courts, Georgia, hmm? Now just kick these nuts in the butt and let us get on with our stadium-building, okay?