Atlanta Braves 1, Hapless Taxpayers Fleeced To Pay For Their Stadium, 0
A large body of academic research has reached a strong consensus about stadium spending: Public financing of sports stadiums provide nice political wins for politicians wanting pictures of ground breaking ceremonies and a media buzz. But, for the taxpayer and for economic development, they have almost no effect. That’s because the taxes poured into the new stadium are taken out of other people’s hands. The result we all see is the stadium; the things we don’t see are all of the other purchases and investments that could have been made.
Stadium proponents will quibble and argue that they can tax non-residents through motel/hotel taxes, which they think will stick the tax on other people. Such arguments miss the basics of tax incidence, and they ignore the dynamic effects of taxation: Rather than stay at the extra-expensive hotels, many residents will head for downtown Atlanta or other areas for their stays. Thus, the effect on businesses and tax revenue is more ambiguous than you think.
The bottom line for Cobb County, then, is that the Atlanta Braves coming to town means very little overall. The lawmakers selling stadiums as an engine of economic activity and job creation are engaging in sales, rather than economics, and it’s a sales job that residents shouldn’t be buying. Many other cities have taken the bait by chasing the “If you build it, they will come model,” and it almost never turns out well for residents. In one of the most egregious recent cases, Detroit has plans to build a $650 million downtown arena for the Red Wings…at a time when the city is in bankruptcy!
Jake Peavy to the Braves
Over the next few months, we’re going to hear all sorts of free agent and trade rumors as teams look to remake their rosters prior to spring training. Some rumors will make perfect sense while others will seem far-fatched. Occasionally one of these rumors will turn into an actual transaction, but most will fall by the wayside and amount to nothing.
Our newest offseason series — the appropriately titled “Throwback Rumors” series — is dedicated to reviving some of those old rumors and playing the “what if?” game. We don’t want to look back and laugh at something that sounds completely ridiculous in hindsight, we want to have some fun and imagine what could have been had the rumor come to fruition instead.
Our latest entry comes courtesy of CBSSports.com’s Scott Miller, dated Nov. 12, 2008:
Under terms of the deal discussed by the Braves and Padres, San Diego would receive shortstop Yunel Escobar, Class A outfielder Gorkys Hernandez, one of two starting pitchers — Charlie Morton or Jo-Jo Reyes — and either reliever Blaine Boyer or one of two minor-league left-handers (one of which is believed to be Jeff Locke).
In addition to Escobar and Hernandez, it is believed that the Padres, if the deal is completed, will opt for Morton, a 25-year-old right-hander who was 4-8 with a 6.15 ERA in 16 appearances — 15 starts — in 2008. They also are said to be leaning toward Boyer, a 27-year-old right-hander who was one of manager Bobby Cox‘s chief workhorses last season, finishing tied for ninth in the NL with 76 appearances.
Miller also notes talks had progressed to the point where the Padres were planning to ask Peavy to waive his no-trade clause. Let’s assume San Diego does take Morton and Boyer over Reyes and Locke, so the four-player swap is Peavy for Escobar, Hernandez, Morton and Boyer. Let’s break this sucker down.
La Stella offers Braves an in-house option at second
As the Hot Stove heats up over the next few weeks leading to the Winter Meetings in December, many of the headlines focusing on the Atlanta Braves will center on the club’s situation at second base.
Coming off a vastly underwhelming season in which he hit just .179 and was left off the National League Division Series roster, veteran Dan Uggla is owed $26 million over the final two years of his contract.
But as trade speculation swirls around Uggla and who the club might acquire as a potential replacement, an internal solution for the position is waiting in the wings for an opportunity after making noise in the prestigious Arizona Fall League. Ranked No. 14 on the Braves’ Top 20 Prospects list, Tommy La Stella is a line-drive, contact-hitting second baseman who has developed a reputation as a gamer over his three years in the Minors. He will likely receive an invitation to big league Spring Training come February.
Although the 24-year-old knows the Braves may be looking to make a change at second this offseason, La Stella shies away from the notion his Fall League performance could be seen as an audition of sorts. Instead, he insists if he plays the way he knows he can, everything else will take care of itself.
“I look at it the same way I do any time I play: as an opportunity to get better,” La Stella said. “You never really stop learning the game, and that’s why I’m here.”
New stadium should mean quicker trips for many Braves fans
Just one day remains before the Cobb County Commission vote on the proposed Braves ballpark, and questions linger about how game-goers will affect the area’s already bottlenecked roads.
But a comparison of trip times to the old and new stadium locations suggests the weeknight drive to the game for the largest share of Braves fans could be the same or even better when the new stadium opens in 2017.
Cobb County officials say it will be months before they can complete a traffic study. So they don’t know what impact the addition of thousands of vehicles — nobody can say how many vehicles typically travel to a Braves game — would have on metro Atlanta’s mobility.
But the Georgia Department of Transportation does know how long it currently takes to get to the proposed stadium site, which is sandwiched between Cobb Parkway, I-285 and I-75 just outside the Perimeter. It also collects information about how long it takes to get to Turner Field now.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution obtained exclusive information from GDOT about average trip times on several routes for the 5:30 to 6 p.m. time window on weekdays, when traffic would be the worst.