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County Commissioner: The Braves will pay 55% of the new ballpark’s construction costs

Nov 14, 2013, 9:07 AM EDT

Cobb County

With the caveat being that the devil is in the details, a couple of Cobb County Commissioners spoke to the Marietta Daily Journal about the financing for the new Braves ballpark. And they say the Braves are paying 55% of the cost:

“The other 45 percent will be funded without a tax increase for over 95 percent of Cobb County residents,” [county chairman Tim] Lee said. “This is a public-private partnership and the Braves are paying for 55 percent of the cost.”

Commissioner Helen Goreham, who has been reviewing the proposal, said she is a fan.

“I’m very comfortable with it,” Goreham said. “The taxpayers are going to be pleased with the arrangement that is going to be shared with the media very shortly.”

Worth noting that Goreham also said that “I believe that those who are going to benefit the most from the Braves moving to Cobb County will be the ones that will be making the largest investment in it.” Which makes one wonder: if the Braves are at 55% and the ones that benefit the most will be the largest investors, can we dispense with the notion that this will be a boon to residents?

Haha, just kidding. They’re gonna continue doing that. They’ll also continue to be cagey about how much of a public investment it is. That “without a tax increase for 95 percent of residents” comment is spin, of course, as is any situation in which you ask for numbers and someone tells you who isn’t paying.

Details are supposed to come out on November 26. Until then, view this kind of talk as primarily a sales pitch with the details that do come out being only those which benefit the folks making the sale.

  1. chill1184 - Nov 14, 2013 at 9:08 AM

    Good old corporate welfare, got to love it

  2. scoutsaysweitersisabust - Nov 14, 2013 at 9:12 AM

    Meanwhile, police, fire, and educators are on mandatory furloughs and hiring freezes. Also don’t ask for a raise. You should just be grateful you have a job. But that’s OK, because that old stadium is totally clashing with the owner’s new jet.

  3. greymares - Nov 14, 2013 at 9:17 AM

    They cant do it on ticket sales.

  4. aphillieated - Nov 14, 2013 at 9:21 AM

    They better start knocking on doors and asking for money because they wont do it with ticket sales.

  5. Liam - Nov 14, 2013 at 9:21 AM

    I need a new car, I wonder if I can get my local government to pay for 45% of it. Think of all the economic stimulus I could provide if I could drive more places to spend money!

  6. churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Nov 14, 2013 at 9:29 AM

    They’ll also continue to be cagey about how much of a public investment it is. That “without a tax increase for 95 percent of residents” comment is spin, of course, as is any situation in which you ask for numbers and someone tells you who isn’t paying.

    Notice the word play here, it’s pretty ingenious. By using a hotel tax or similar methods, they technically are telling the truth that the “residents” aren’t picking up the cost. However, it also eliminates the need to deny that the public won’t be paying for this.

    Well done Barves

  7. andyreidisfat - Nov 14, 2013 at 9:31 AM

    So I was thinking why does this guy keep writing about the braces stadium deal on a national website when I realized most of the people going to braves games are fans of the other team.

    Why is a city paying for a stadium they won’t even use.

  8. bjavie - Nov 14, 2013 at 9:43 AM

    Why do people complain about public $$ being used for stadiums? These stadiums generate millions of public dollars – tax revenue, increase to local business traffic, etc…

    Yes, it would be nice if the corporation would shell out the $$, but since they are going to provide so much revenue to the local governments, why shouldn’t they accept government $$ if it is offered?

    This is typical, the local tax payer wants the financial benefits generated by the stadium. They just want it for free.

    I live in Dallas. Ask Irving, Dallas and Dallas County how they feel about the money being generated for Arlington and Tarrant County by the Cowboys and Rangers.

    If it makes money for the public, the public should have a hand in it.

    • chill1184 - Nov 14, 2013 at 9:48 AM

      Some of us have problems with theft, call us crazy

      • bjavie - Nov 14, 2013 at 9:54 AM

        Oh, that’s such b/s. Theft???? Grow up.

    • chacochicken - Nov 14, 2013 at 9:58 AM

      Sadly, sports complexes/stadiums generate virtually no additional income to the cities in which they reside.

      http://www.psmag.com/business-economics/america-has-a-stadium-problem-62665/

      http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1468-2257.1990.tb00513.x/abstract

      http://press.princeton.edu/titles/5106.html

      • bjavie - Nov 14, 2013 at 10:16 AM

        Your first article says that Chester County injected 97% into a soccer stadium. I would probably be of the opinion that Chester County officials are morons and this was a bad decision. You have to be smart about how much you are willing to put in, as I state below.

        Articles two and three say nothing, that I saw, about how much of an investment there was by the government.

        Cobb County is paying less than half. Probably a wiser investment than 97%.

      • chacochicken - Nov 14, 2013 at 10:38 AM

        It is not only that they don’t repay the the percentage spent but it doesn’t add new business or revenue from ticket buyers. Here are a few more examples.

        http://nextcity.org/daily/entry/urban-nation-money-wise-stadiums-and-super-bowls-dont-benefit-cities

        http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2012/09/if-you-build-it-they-might-not-come-the-risky-economics-of-sports-stadiums/260900/

    • brewcrewfan54 - Nov 14, 2013 at 10:01 AM

      Because most of the time many of the people paying the extra money get zero in return for it. When Miller Park in Milwaukee was built the county I live in was part of the 5 counties who’s taxes were increased to fund it. I guarantee my county has seen no benefit from the building of it.

    • bjavie - Nov 14, 2013 at 10:09 AM

      Let’s talk in terms of 100. Braves pay 55 and Cobb County pays 45.

      If the expected return to Cobb County is 44, then Cobb County residents need to go to the polls and vote people out of office for not spending tax payer money more wisely.

      If the expected return to Cobb County is 46, then it is worth every penny to the tax payers to help fund the stadium.

      These are long term decisions, not, “gee someone got robbed yesterday, so all $$ needs to go to the police” decisions. If there is long term benefit, officials will go for it eveytime. 45 invested in a stadium with a 20 year lease generates money for 20 years. 45 spent on police today isn’t generating the same kind of money 5 years from now, let alone 20.

      Yes, it sucks for the City of Atlanta and Fulton County that a greedy bunch of a-holes are moving out of a less than 20 year old ballpark. But it is up to the City and County to decide if it is worth the investment. If it is going to generate more money than is put in, then anyone against it needs to take a macro economics class. Quick.

      • skerney - Nov 14, 2013 at 10:38 AM

        This is actual nonsense.

    • chill1184 - Nov 14, 2013 at 10:12 AM

      Telling me to grow up shows that don’t have a counter argument. Why should people of Cobb County (or anyone for that matter) be forced to pay for an arena that will be owned by a private person? If the Braves want a new stadium so much why can’t they finance it themselves? Why wouldn’t a bank want to loan out a construction loan for a team that competes year in and year out?

      • bjavie - Nov 14, 2013 at 10:19 AM

        My counter argument is above your reply.

    • samu0034 - Nov 14, 2013 at 10:40 AM

      bjavie,

      I used to believe as you do, that the benefits of having a major sports team outweighed the harm from having that team skip town, and was staunchly in favor of public financing if it would get a new stadium built for the Vikings and/or Twins. But the fact is that the burden of paying off the public portion of publicly financing a sports stadium is far more significant than any of the (often vastly exaggerated) benefits from having the stadium and the team in the city.
      Many economic studies have backed this up. That the argument of economic benefit to the city keeps being brought up at this point is only a testament to how effective it is at convincing the public that tax-based financing is a good idea, not to the legitimacy of the argument. Further, public financing of stadiums (especially single use stadiums like baseball stadiums) really just turns teams into renters of a facility which they’re perfectly happy to leave when a better situation comes along. At which point the city is left holding the bill for a now utterly useless stadium while the team goes to play in a brand new facility which some other sucker has bought for them. I can understand some level of public financing, but giving billionaires free buildings to play their games in is ridiculous, and it doesn’t do the public any good whatsoever.

      • bjavie - Nov 14, 2013 at 11:38 AM

        It is clear I have done a lousy job arguing my point.

        I am not 100% in favor of public financing, per se. What I am in favor of is public financing by smart governments that do it smartly. The studies I have read always seem to read that it was a bad decision by the government in question and the investment didn’t pay off.

        TEAM generates income. If it didn’t, then CITY wouldn’t want it in the first place.
        The TEAM income is taxable, creating tax revenue for the CITY.
        The TEAM asks the CITY to pay for 50% of the stadium, or it will go elsewhere.
        If, after PROPER economic study, the CITY can show that a 50% investment will pay-off in a # of years, and thereby be an income stream afterwards, then why wouldn’t the CITY want that?
        Now, if the CITY agrees to OVER-invest in the project to a point where it will not pay-off until an impractical time down the road, then we have now gone from “greedy TEAM” to “dumb CITY.” Too many politicians simply want their name on bringing a team to town. Vote that jackass out of office.

        There is without a doubt a point at which public investment in a sports team pays off. There must be. If the TEAM generates 20 in tax revenues and the CITY investment is only 10, then why not? That is what I am implying about Cobb County and the Braves. Unfortunatley, in the failing examples I get linked to (and I haven’t gone super in depth) it appears the city investment is just way too high in comparison to the revenue generated. Dumb, dumb move; and proper economic study should at the very least hint at this. If the team insists on more $$ than makes it proftiable for the city, then YES, the city should tell them to take a hike. Unfortunately, they usually do not, which is just bad government.

        So, you all can think I am crazy for being ok with partial public funding all you want, but there is NO QUESTION, that there is a SOME POINT at which it is a very wise investment, there has to be; unfortunately too many governments are willing to go well beyond that point, just to bring a team to town. Thus, they receive no financial benefit. Don’t blame the greedy owners who we have NO say over, blame bad government officials, who we DO have say over.

        If your local government was willing to give you $$ for you to open a pizza shop down the street, and you wanted to open a pizza shop, you’d take the money too. Even if it were not profitable for the city.

        The links to studies are great, but there are no doubt governents out there who have done this properly and their cities and counties are benefiting. They can’t all be losing money. I would say it is the greedy governmets who are losing money, not the smart ones.

        I concede it is not a no-brainer type good idea, and I should not have implied it was. But no doubt it can be.

        Smart governments take advantage of greedy owners.
        Smart owners take advantage of greedy governments.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Nov 14, 2013 at 12:21 PM

        I am not 100% in favor of public financing, per se. What I am in favor of is public financing by smart governments that do it smartly. The studies I have read always seem to read that it was a bad decision by the government in question and the investment didn’t pay off.

        Can you name three examples where the city/town/county prospered by having a team? Or even one example? Most of the local revenue that’s generated from a team is in the bars/shops that surround the stadium, which aren’t exactly giant forms of revenue for the towns.

    • asimonetti88 - Nov 14, 2013 at 11:17 AM

      “why shouldn’t they accept government $$ if it is offered?”

      I’m not necessarily one who faults them for accepting money that is offered because I probably would do the same. I more fault the government for not telling them to shove it where the sun don’t shine when they request these funds.

      • bjavie - Nov 14, 2013 at 11:42 AM

        If the government can’t make $$ off of it, then I agree100%! But if they can, why not? I think that was supposed to be my ultimate point.

      • asimonetti88 - Nov 14, 2013 at 11:43 AM

        The government isn’t a company. And they lose money on this more often than they make it.

    • thebigcaptain2011 - Nov 14, 2013 at 1:32 PM

      I live in Tarrant county and I don’t see the benefit you speak of other than higher property taxes, bad traffic on game days, and the once-a-year (and as in 2007 twice) visit by my New York Giants. Then, as my property taxes go up year after year while the school my children goes to budget drops (to the point where every teacher is budgeted for one ream of paper per semester, just for starters), I get to enjoy paying $30 to park, $8 to have a beer and maybe pay $12 for nachos at Jerry Jones’ monument to himself. Don’t give me any crap about how the Cowboys paid for that building themselves, that’s a lie Jerry swindled the city of Arlington and Tarrant county with. Yes, the move may have hurt The City of Irving exposure and maybe monetarily, but the residents are thrilled about the inevitable tax drop and traffic improvement. Maybe if I was a Cowboys/Rangers fan I wouldn’t be as salty about this, but I doubt it. It’s probably because we have priortized sports over our children. We show that every year when we vote down tax increases for education, but pay for half of that billion dollar tomb for the Crypt Keeper.

  9. unclemosesgreen - Nov 14, 2013 at 9:44 AM

    But Craig – corporations are people too. So all of that money is going to the people. Power to the People!

  10. mybrunoblog - Nov 14, 2013 at 9:49 AM

    Politicians now call raising taxes “an investment”. So they’ll play the class warfare tax game and only raise taxes on higher income earners. That’s lovely. Think about this folks. It’s a huge crap sandwich for Cobb County and you are all being forced to take a big bite.

    • noodles73 - Nov 14, 2013 at 9:58 AM

      Reminds me of things Boss Hogg used to say in Hazzard County

    • 18thstreet - Nov 14, 2013 at 10:26 AM

      Just to be clear: when politicians use the word “investment,” it’s usually about spending money, not raising it. It’s not a crazy idea. You can spend money on, say, your child’s college education and get a good return on that investment. You can spend money on renovating your kitchen before selling your house and get a return on that investment You can also spend money on stocks and bonds and get a good return on that investment, too.

      Raising the money — through your salary or (in the case of the public) taxes) is NOT an investment.

      • mybrunoblog - Nov 14, 2013 at 7:50 PM

        Why should anyone get “soaked” ??? This is a bad joke. The people of Cobb County are suckers. Funny too how this story breaks AFTER Election Day.

    • bravojawja - Nov 14, 2013 at 11:00 AM

      You clearly know nothing of Cobb County.

      Never in a million years will they “raise taxes on higher income earners.” Cobb is Tea Party territory – one of the biggest Tea Party groups was founded there. Newt Gingrich and Johnny Isakson are from there.

      It won’t be the rich who get soaked.

      • chc4 - Nov 14, 2013 at 11:45 AM

        Interesting statement yet you ignore that Johnny Isakson is not a Tea Party guy.

      • bravojawja - Nov 14, 2013 at 12:16 PM

        Two separate sentences. One for the Tea Party. One for the career politicians.

        Johnny, however, got really, really rich selling real estate in Cobb County back in the glory days of the metro’s construction boom. He also toes the Republican Party line, which is getting harder and harder to distinguish from the TP’s line.

  11. innout10 - Nov 14, 2013 at 10:09 AM

    Craig likes to cheer for city or state politics related to any team rather than the actual players on the field…that’s what happens when you never played the game at any age.

  12. knowlegeforyou - Nov 14, 2013 at 10:25 AM

    Glad to see one comment or knows even a slight bit on how economics works. I’m totally over Craig, a braves fan that doesn’t live in the city, bitching for a week about taxpayers money. The dude lobbies for the rays to get a new stadium but when the braves do something for the same reason it’s just not ok.

    • atxjustin - Nov 14, 2013 at 10:56 AM

      Craig may believe the Rays need a new stadium but I can guarantee you’ll never hear him advocate for it to be publicly financed.

  13. scyankee64 - Nov 14, 2013 at 10:45 AM

    I don’t support public funding of stadiums and I’m not a Braves fan (although I do go down every time the Yankees are there), but I’ve been to Cobb County about 10 times for my son’s travel baseball tournaments and those folks love baseball. I think a large percentage of the taxpayers will be in favor of this.

  14. bravojawja - Nov 14, 2013 at 10:57 AM

    The number is “officially” $302 million. For now.

    They’re still claiming taxes won’t go up, but I wonder what other uses the county could have for that $302 million. Perhaps police, firefighters, and teachers? That money is coming from somewhere, and if it’s being used on a stadium it isn’t being used on other things the county needs.

  15. chip56 - Nov 14, 2013 at 10:59 AM

    If you’re going to continue whining about this, please read the following article from the Atlanta Journal Constitution: http://www.ajc.com/weblogs/political-insider/2013/nov/11/kasim-reed-braves-i-wish-them-well/

    The key here is that since this move is seeking the approval of the county commission and not the county voters the only way to finance the park is by raising an additional tax as opposed to levying a new one. Since no politician in his right mind is going to raise taxes on his voters in an election year, the tax most likely to be raised is on hotel/motel stays. So who is going to be paying more money for the stadium? Not the people of Cobb County, but people who come into town to watch the games (or visit Atlanta in general) and the teams that stay in these hotels in the first place.

    As Atlanta is one of two major hubs for air transportation in the United States (Chicago being the other) this will in no way limit the number of people who come into Atlanta on a regular basis so no revenue will be lost by local businesses.

    Now, having said all of that – can we please…for the love of God…move on???

    • bravojawja - Nov 14, 2013 at 11:05 AM

      Hardly anybody stays in Cobb County as either a tourist or conventioneer – it’s on the opposite side of town from the airport. There’s no way to pay for this stadium with a hotel/motel tax – especially since they can’t raise it any higher than the 8% it is already at.

      • chip56 - Nov 14, 2013 at 11:09 AM

        Which is probably part of the reason Cobb County wants a baseball stadium. To get people to stay there. I’m not sure the status of public transportation in the area, but if you build the stadium then odds are in favor of people wanting to stay closer to the ballpark than having to negotiate back to the city center.

      • bravojawja - Nov 14, 2013 at 11:25 AM

        There is no public transportation there – that’s part of the chutzpah of the Braves’ bitching about it around the Ted. You can use MARTA to get to Turner Field from downtown and its gazillion hotels (or just stay at the newly renovated Holiday Inn Express just up Hank Aaron Drive).

        Any hotels built for the stadium had better be right next door; otherwise, there’s no way to get from one to the other. That goes for visiting teams, too. It’s a long, bumper-to-bumper drive from downtown to the Galleria.

  16. ddmcd1974 - Nov 14, 2013 at 11:09 AM

    So if these stadiums bring in zero benefit why does anyone care if the Braves leave ATL? You can’t have it both ways. You are wrong and your argument is dumb when you say it’s bad the Braves leave but the Braves do nothing for the city they are in.

    • stex52 - Nov 14, 2013 at 12:22 PM

      No one said zero benefit. They said they don’t pay for themselves. That’s a big difference. When you consider the starting price of 300 MM$ is a joke and it will cost a lot more, that’s a lot of cost to make up.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Nov 14, 2013 at 12:47 PM

      So if these stadiums bring in zero benefit why does anyone care if the Braves leave ATL?

      Because by leaving ATL they are forcing someone else to pay for a new stadium. That means that public funds (gathered however you want) are going to be used to subsidize a new stadium. That is what most of us have a problem with. If the Braves want to fully fund a new stadium, I doubt many of us would care.

  17. moogro - Nov 14, 2013 at 12:16 PM

    I’m new to this stuff. Why are the Braves not paying 100% for their stadium?

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Nov 14, 2013 at 12:45 PM

      Because why pay for something when you can get someone else to pay for it and still reap all the rewards?

  18. wcdunkenfield - Nov 20, 2013 at 7:30 PM

    “The other 45 percent will be funded without a tax increase for over 95 percent of Cobb County residents,” [county chairman Tim] Lee said.
    ——-
    Translation: a set of existing taxes that were set to expire, because they were implemented for specific public projects that are now completed and paid for, are going to be extended.

    Lee is not going to allow any discussion on this issue, and is pushing for a commission vote. The local Tea Party folks are asking for a delay in that vote, but Lee has told them no.

    This is getting shoved down the throats of Cobb County residents, and the results — particularly traffic problems — are going to be terrible for the county.

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