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The Braves Ballpark Bamboozling is beginning on schedule

Nov 13, 2013, 4:00 PM EDT

Citation Needed

A little more than 48 hours after the Braves announced their move to Cobb County, an editorial has appeared in the Marietta Daily Journal celebrating the move. And, boy is it a celebration:

The move by the Atlanta Braves to Cobb is a homerun for this county. The economic impact will be huge, the new stadium “will be one of the most magnificent ever built,” according to Braves president John Schuerholz … Schuerholz has strong management skills but, most importantly, he has integrity. He is not given to hyperbole … this deal should be a slam dunk for commissioners … What is so appealing to the commissioners is the economic impact which obviously will be very substantial.

Obviously. Except nowhere in this endorsement if there any consideration or assessment of that impact. The closest we get to it is when he says that there will “probably” be hotels.  Really. A companion editorial is a little less cheerleader-y in tone, but says this:

Revenue bonds could be paid off with funds generated by the stadium complex, although county taxpayers could still be responsible for making up the difference if stadium or other revenues fall short . . . A more likely scenario, though, is that the stadium will more than pay for itself and that its presence will unleash a flood of additional sales and hotel/motel tax revenues.

More likely? Based on what, peyote hallucinations? How about some acknowledgment — even the slightest acknowledgment — that every single stadium ever built has been accompanied by promises of economic development that have gone unfulfilled. That pie-in-the-sky “it’ll pay for itself” rhetoric is almost always shown to be utter baloney in the end. How about a little more critical thinking and a little less magical thinking

Not happening, because boy howdy, magical thinking is clearly the order of the day here. To wit: there are acknowledgments of traffic problems that are quickly dismissed with an assertion that they’ll surely fix those problems by then. How they’ll fix it is all vague, but we have top men on it. Top. Men. And there is an assertion that “99% of taxpayers” will not feel any sting from this thing because of some magic taxes that don’t have any economic implications at all will take care of it. Don’t worry your pretty little head.

None of those kinds of assertions ever turn out to be the case, of course. Stadiums always cost more than first claimed. The public part of the bill is always bigger than it’s initially claimed to be. The economic impact of these places is always far less, if it even exists at all. But this time it’ll be different, though! Because Jon Schuerholz has integrity. And the commissioners find it appealing. It’s a home run/slam dunk hybrid, after all.

Why do people continue to peddle this stuff? Maybe it’s because people buy it. Or don’t care. But whatever the case, the fact that it is peddled at all is an absolute disgrace. It’s cheerleading disguised as journalism.

And all of it will be forgotten when there’s a “Marietta Daily Journal” sign painted on the left field wall of the new ballpark and when the publishers and editors of the paper are ensconced in their luxury boxes, watching the Braves play ball.

(h/t to J.C. Bradbury for the heads up)

  1. wogggs - Nov 13, 2013 at 4:03 PM

    Nice Raiders of the Lost Ark reference…

  2. chc4 - Nov 13, 2013 at 4:04 PM

    Well, the city promised to build up the surrounding area to Turner Field as well yet it remains a cesspool. So the city blew it in ’96 and since by not holding up their end. Funny, no mention of that in this article.

    • 18thstreet - Nov 13, 2013 at 4:34 PM

      The free market magically is supposed to make it happen, doncha know?

  3. stoutfiles - Nov 13, 2013 at 4:13 PM

    Thought this would stop after the Marlins fiasco. Guess not.

  4. proudliberal85392 - Nov 13, 2013 at 4:13 PM

    Remind me again why a 16-year old stadium isn’t good enough? Fenway, Wrigley Field, and Dodger Stadium seem to be doing OK.

    • stoutfiles - Nov 13, 2013 at 4:15 PM

      Because the Braves can own this one, and they can get the taxpayers to foot the bill.

      • bravojawja - Nov 14, 2013 at 12:02 PM

        Except the Braves won’t own it – the county authority will. Just like Turner Field.

  5. mungman69 - Nov 13, 2013 at 4:16 PM

    Boy, 17 years and “WE NEED A NEW STADIUM”. I don’t know how many hungry people are in Georgia but they will be just as hungry after the stadium is built. What a waste of money.

    • atlantadawg - Nov 13, 2013 at 10:40 PM

      you are missing the fact that the Braves don’t own their current stadium. they signed a 20 year lease and have fulfilled that lease. the current stadium was built and paid for by mostly Olympic sponsors and NBC with very minimal monies coming from the city. the stadium is paid in full so its truly not as bad as Craig wants to make it out to be. but then again, Craig refuses to report on facts and instead wants to fan the flames.

      • cur68 - Nov 14, 2013 at 12:27 AM

        Waitaminute…Craig is up there ASKING for facts. He wants to know how financing is going to happen, traffic is going to be routed, depts paid, what the onus on the taxpayer will actually be. Asking for journalists to find that out rather than engaging in PR like a running dog lackey of Braves Management. HOW are you faulting Craig for wanting to know these things? His issue is with the deal surrounding the new stadium, not the history of the old one, and rightly so.

        You seem to be contending that because the current stadium isn’t as awful a deal for the taxpayers, Craig is seriously sinning for not mentioning it. Well who gives a crap, anyways? The NEW one sure is shaping up to be a nightmare, not unlike the Marlins fiasco of a stadium. Not unlike a raft of others built on the public dime. We should all pat Braves Management and MLB on the back and say “Hey! You didn’t screw us over with that old stadium, you get to do it with the NEXT one!!”?? No-thankyou very much.

        You have anything meaningful to add to this or do you plan to just assume a past, rare occurrence excuses all sorts of crappy doings in the future?

    • timburns116 - Nov 14, 2013 at 8:37 AM

      Maybe the poor can eat part of Turner Field? Just remember, when tax money goes to the poor, that’s socialism. When it goes to rich a$$face like Johnny S. And his friends, that’s the free market

      • aiede - Nov 14, 2013 at 2:59 PM

        “Free market?” I do not think that term means what you think it means.

        A government entity building a public facility to provide a privately-owned but antitrust-exempt entity a place of business is pretty much the antithesis of the free market. I’d argue that it’s closer to market socialism.

        (And for what it’s worth, “socialism” has nothing to do with government payments to the poor. It defines the ownership of the means of production.)

      • timburns116 - Nov 14, 2013 at 7:36 PM

        Sarcasm ain’t your thing, eh?

  6. kruegere - Nov 13, 2013 at 4:18 PM

    All swindling of taxpayers for new stadiums should stop…but only after the Rays get a new one.

    • Liam - Nov 13, 2013 at 4:29 PM

      As long as that stadium is in Montreal, I agree.

    • happytwinsfan - Nov 13, 2013 at 4:46 PM

      most rational of you rays fan. the new stadium willl result in more revenue for the braves, hence a bigger player payroll, hence a greater liklihood of success on the field. if you’re a braves fan what’s not to like. that’s how i feel about the twin’s target field.

      and if it requires a bunch of political bamboozlement, to get the job done, so be it.

      • zzalapski - Nov 13, 2013 at 5:36 PM

        Yes, because Target Field was so instrumental in the Twins’ success this season. And last season. And the season before that.

        It’s a beautiful stadium, but I would rather they stay in the Metrodome than have my tax dollars used to buy a shiny toy for baseball owners.

      • happytwinsfan - Nov 13, 2013 at 5:39 PM

        they were good in 2010 and we got to enjoy several good years of the m & m twins

    • ptfu - Nov 13, 2013 at 5:58 PM

      The A’s need a new park too. Sewage.

      • gloccamorra - Nov 13, 2013 at 11:55 PM

        That stadium is surrounded by a moat that drains into San Francisco Bay, which is huge and deep. Just divert the sewage into it, No one will ever know.

  7. aphillieated - Nov 13, 2013 at 4:29 PM

    Just don’t put more than 25,000 seats in it, won’t need more than that.

    • chc4 - Nov 13, 2013 at 6:20 PM

      That’s about how many fans made the trip to Citizens Bank Park late in the year so….

  8. ireportyoudecide - Nov 13, 2013 at 4:41 PM

    I know you don’t like public stadiums, but I think you are being less then truthful when you say “that every single stadium ever built has been accompanied by promises of economic development that have gone unfulfilled.” Have you been to San Diego recently? Petco Park played a huge role in the development of the downtown and gaslamp area. Have you been to Denver, did you visit the downtown area before Coors field was there? And then look at a place like Seattle, have you seen what has happened to the Center area since the Sonics have left? The area has become completely abandoned and all the shops, restaurants, and even the theme park closed up. Now we can debate whether public money should go to a private company, although cities do it all the time, Seattle just agreed to give Boeing a huge tax break, but there is real evidence that these stadiums can be beneficial for the city.

    • clydeserra - Nov 13, 2013 at 6:35 PM

      the seattle center area? Lower Queen Anne? abandoned?

      look, its been over 10 years since I lived there, but a craigslist search shows sky high rents in the area. Its a desirable location, maybe shops have closed down, I don’t know, but the area around the seattle center is about a square mile, I cannot believe that it is in any way shape or form abandoned.

    • timburns116 - Nov 14, 2013 at 8:40 AM

      Every economic study on the impact of Stadium construction reveals no net public gain. Might as well put the tax money INTO new shops than give it to some jerk and count on businesses to just magically appear

  9. tywebb76 - Nov 13, 2013 at 4:42 PM

    It’s nice to see so many people with no attachment to this change expressing their opinions. Those who don’t live here clearly do not understand that the City of Atlanta is actually quite thrilled to have the Braves moving. While they would love to keep the Braves inside the city limits, they simply could not afford to do so. The demolition of Turner Field will allow for the development of an extremely valuable piece of property that was currently being wasted as a baseball stadium and absolutely nothing else. The return on investment from this development will easily surpass the expected revenue generated by the Braves playing at Turner Field for the next 20 years. The city owns the stadium; so they, and not the Braves would be on the hook for the nearly $200 Million in repairs required to keep the stadium operating through another lease cycle. The stadium was paid for long ago as it was simply a retrofit from the ’96 Olympics. Cobb County is 1 of 3 counties in the Metro area (Cobb, Milton, Gwinnett) that are still booming financially and they have the funds, the location and the fan backing to make the new stadium happen. The city of Atlanta could never sell this to their electorate (the retrofit or the new stadium altogether). It was hard enough to sell the small amount of funds required to develop the area around the new Falcons Stadium. The 25% that the City Development Company; not the City is footing does not even pay for the stadium (which is being fully funded by the teams ownership), but the redevelopment of roads and the initial development of commercial property surrounding the stadium. Make sure that you step out of your glass house before you throw that stone

    • clydeserra - Nov 13, 2013 at 5:43 PM

      extremely valuable? this is what I am reading from supporters of the move:

      The surrounding area of turner field is a dump. the city promised to develop it in 96 to make it not a dump. They didn’t do that so the main tenant of the area is moving. Which is great because now, NOW the city of atlanta can develop it so its not a dump.

      Am I getting that right? Why is in now that the city can redevelop the area for the benefit of the city coffers that they couldn’t do in the past 20 years, but now without the attraction of a main anchor tenant?

      • atlantadawg - Nov 13, 2013 at 10:46 PM

        actually it is extremely valuable land. the land in question sells at $1 million an acre. as Tywebb stated, those of us who are actually from this area fully understand the impact this is going to have and its a good thing for the city. They get to get rid of the upkeep for the stadium and can sell the land to a developer, which they are working on now. they have already got a plan in place to demolish the stadium and re-develop the area into a mix-use development with housing and businesses. The city didn’t develop the area around Turner field because they didn’t have the funds to do so. they took the cheap way out and just maintained. now they will be able to sell the land that they couldn’t do to begin with because of it being used for the Atlanta Braves. they actually already had a deal in place to sell off part of the front parking lot to a developer who was going to build condos/townhomes before the Braves had announced their move. If everyone would actually read on the facts of what is going on with the stadium, its actually not a bad thing that is happening.

      • clydeserra - Nov 14, 2013 at 9:06 AM

        what makes the city more likely to redevelop the surrounding area now?

        look, I think it would be great if what you say is true, I just doubt it is. Sounds like wishcasting.

    • chc4 - Nov 13, 2013 at 6:23 PM

      Dude, I lived in Grant Park for 5 years (about 1.5 miles from Turner Field) in the early 2000’s and let me tell you… that is NOT extremely valuable property. If it was someone would’ve already developed around the stadium. It’s called teh free market system. If there’s a demand and money to be made someone would’ve done it. That is the hood and only a fool would invest in it.

      • atlantadawg - Nov 13, 2013 at 10:48 PM

        last time I checked, $1 million an acre was extremely valuable land. And Grant Park that you speak of, those homes are going for 400K and up now so looks like you sold too soon.

      • bravojawja - Nov 14, 2013 at 12:10 PM

        You clearly haven’t set foot in Grant Park since the early 2000’s, either. I lived there until a couple years ago, and let me tell you it’s gorgeous. Houses go for no less than $300K. The park itself is spotless. There’s a police precinct right smack in the middle of the area and a fire station right there. The zoo is always full, the shops on Cherokee are thriving, and there’s a year-round farmers market in the park every Sunday.

        And it’s walking distance to the stadium.

        Sounds like sour grapes to me. You left too soon and missed out on a good thing.

    • cur68 - Nov 14, 2013 at 12:42 AM

      I don’t give a crap about the old stadium. What I do care about is how is traffic going to be affected in the new area, where’s all the dough coming from, where’s all the revenue going, who’s signed on to build businesses and hotels near the new stadium, and just how much is the thing going to cost the taxpayers? You know. All the stuff Craig asks in his post? As for the terms of the old lease, the disposition of the old stadium and so forth: how does it affect the current proposal? Is there anything in there that changes why we shouldn’t have some answers about the factors affecting the new stadium? I think the answer is “No. The old place is irrelevant to the the discussion EXCEPT as a comparable operating cost”. From the looks of things, The Braves arguably DO need a new place BUT WE STILL NEED THE ANSWERS TO THOSE QUESTIONS.

    • jwbiii - Nov 14, 2013 at 3:33 AM

      We know that Cobb County is well off financially because cutting back on the numbers of teachers is something that all financially well off governments do

      Cobb County’s school board approved a 2013-14 budget Thursday night that will result in five furlough days for all employees, the loss of 182 teachers through attrition and a slimmer central administration staff.

  10. The Rabbit - Nov 13, 2013 at 4:44 PM

    “Why do people continue to peddle this stuff?” If you keep saying it often and long enough, some (most?) people accept it as truth….and a unfortunately, they get elected to public office.
    If you mention the word “jobs”, you can sell anything in this country, even if in the end they are part time, dead-end, and minimum wage. (Yes, there are short term construction jobs.)
    Just once I’d like the newspapers to actually do research, consult journals of urban planning, and look at the long term results of the taxpayer giveaways to millionaires before they publish an article. It’s not only stadiums. It’s mall developers, major corps, etc.
    While there have been some success stories with a long term commitment to jobs that might actually support a family, it’s not the usual outcome. The taxpayers usually get saddled with infrastructure costs to support whatever grandiose scheme some developer, team owner, etc, has in addition to tax abatements, bonds, etc. Jobs are usually (particularly in retail) as described above.
    Bottom line: In most cases, it’s a net loss to the taxpayers and some millionaire gets richer.

    • timburns116 - Nov 14, 2013 at 8:44 AM

      Those people I office know better. They also know what campaign contributions and free tickets to fun stuff looks like. They are easily bought and sold

  11. spacemaker101 - Nov 13, 2013 at 4:53 PM


    • gloccamorra - Nov 13, 2013 at 11:59 PM

      What if they change their name to the Georgia Cobbs? Do you know how to cobb? Will they let you do it in the ballpark?

  12. rbj1 - Nov 13, 2013 at 4:57 PM

    Coors Field was finished in 1995, obviously Colorado needs a new stadium. Will no one think of the the Rockies!

  13. chaseutley - Nov 13, 2013 at 6:22 PM

    This will never happen, but you know what I’d like to hear just once?…..
    “Dear taxpayers, please pay for our new stadium. In return, 100% of the net revenue for parking (or beer or hot dogs or nachos) will be donated to public schools.”
    It’ll never happen, but it worked for the lottery in the South.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Nov 13, 2013 at 9:57 PM

      Almost positive the CT state lottery was instituted on the same premise (profits to schools).

  14. seattletony - Nov 13, 2013 at 7:03 PM

    That entire description of Seattle after the Sonics left is spot on…except that part where you described Seattle after the Sonics left.

  15. new555 - Nov 13, 2013 at 7:32 PM

    Economic development has been hit and miss, but it’s not 100% miss. The development in Denver revitalized the area and look at the area in San Francisco around AT&T park. The China Basin in SF was a hole, now it’s filled with tons of bars, restaurants, condos, high-rises, etc. It can be done.

    I’m just not a fan of suburban ballparks. The stadium should be downtown. I cannot imagine the traffic in that area around rush hour on a game night. WOW. Atlanta already has some of the worst traffic in the country and that area is gridlock now. And one complaint the Braves have now is that MARTA (rapid transit) does not run directly to Turner Field now. Riders must bus over from a train station, but then they’re going to go with busses again in Cobb County? MARTA does not go into Cobb County because Cobb residents don’t want it.

    This is pretty good comedy here. As a Braves fan though. bring it on. I’m sure the development will be huge in that area for the best sports franchise in the south.

    • clydeserra - Nov 13, 2013 at 10:41 PM

      SF is a tiny city. before PAC BELL was built, that area was undesirable. as it was being built, a thing called “the internet” became wildly successful and people from the bay area investment firms poured millions of dollars into any company that ended in “dot com” a lot of those companies wanted to be in SF and fueled a development boom.

      It helped that the giants moved there, sure. it also helped that the city didn’t waste any money on building the stadium. but crediting pac bell for the revitalization of that area is ignoring the economic environment of the middle to late 90s.

    • timburns116 - Nov 14, 2013 at 8:47 AM

      And, since MARTA doesn’t go there, you can get of the “riff-raff” and poor people. Why it’s win-win for the traditional Southerner.

  16. stevequinn - Nov 14, 2013 at 10:01 AM

    Turner Field was built for the Olympics. It’s a crappy place to play baseball.

    • bravojawja - Nov 14, 2013 at 12:13 PM

      No, Olympic Stadium was built for the Olympics. It was also specifically built to be retrofitted into a baseball-only stadium. It’s a great park. Maybe you should go there in person one day.

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