Cobb County commissioners approve plan for Braves stadium
Commissioners of a suburban Atlanta county on Tuesday approved a deal to build a new $672 million stadium for the Atlanta Braves that would move the Major League Baseball team out of downtown Atlanta.
The Cobb County Commission voted 4-1 to enter into a memorandum of understanding with the baseball team following more than an hour of public comment both for and against the deal, which will require millions of dollars in public funds. Under the plan, the new stadium would open in 2017. The project is set to take the team out of downtown Atlanta for the first time since it moved to the city from Milwaukee in 1966.
Commissioners have been holding town hall meetings to gather feedback on the proposal and held an extended public comment period of about an hour at their meeting Tuesday night. They voted in favor of the deal despite calls by a diverse coalition of citizen groups for more time.
Former Atlanta Braves Pitchers Greg Maddux And Tom Glavine Named On 2014 Hall Of Fame Ballot
It has been more than 5 years since either Glavine or Maddux took the mound in the Major Leagues (hence their arrival on the ballot), but it seems like much longer than that for any Braves fan. They are, without question, two of the best pitchers of their era, and there is a serious contingent of people (myself included) who believe that Maddux should be in the running for “Greatest Pitcher of All-Time” consideration.
Both men won over 300 games in their career (355 for Maddux, 305 for Glavine), but much more importantly, their peripheral statistics were unbelievably impressive. Maddux is 6th all-time in pitcher WAR at 104.6 (according to Baseball-Reference) and Glavine isn’t far behind in 28th place at 74.0 WAR. Maddux had an infamous run in Atlanta that included 4 straight Cy Young awards (3 with the Braves) and back-to-back seasons with ERA’s of 1.56 and 1.63, which would basically make anyone in this era look like a superhero.
Tea Party Strikes Out Against the Atlanta Braves
The Tea Party in Georgia went up against the Republican establishment and Major League Baseball. They lost, for now, but grassroots leaders are looking for revenge.
When the Atlanta Braves became the latest Major League Baseball franchise to demand a new stadium to play in, they ran into a huge tide of opposition to their move from downtown Atlanta to the suburbs north of the city.
But instead of protests from fans in their current home downtown, the team has gotten an earful from furious Tea Party activists in Cobb County, the Republican-dominated portion of the metro area that was once the heart of Newt Gingrich’s congressional district and will now be home to the 60-acre site the team has chosen for its new stadium.
The Tea Party anger is focused on the county’s usually small-government, anti-tax Republican board of commissioners, which enticed the baseball team with a commitment of $300 million in public funds to go toward a new $672 million stadium for the ball club. But while the county commission called the stadium deal a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” the local Tea Party activists called foul, accusing the commission of rushing to a vote without enough public review and opening up the latest front in the war between Tea Party groups and the Republican establishment that pushed for the deal.
“I’ve had several members of the Chamber of Commerce tell me that the Tea Party needs to stick to federal issues and leave local issues like this alone,” said Debbie Dooley, the head of the Atlanta Tea Party. “Well, that’s not going to happen.”
Atlanta deal shows how expensive new baseball stadiums can be
A baseball team wants a new stadium — still within its metro area but closer to its fan base.
The Tampa Bay Rays, St. Petersburg and Hillsborough County officials have gnawed over that prospect for years.
Now, suburban Cobb County, Ga. — population 700,000 — may pull it off. The County Commission votes today on building a new ballpark for the Atlanta Braves just outside the beltway.
Like all stadium deals, the project springs from a distinct set of financial and political realities that may translate poorly to other markets. But the deal does underscore two basic trends relevant to Tampa Bay:
• Stadiums are expensive, even without retractable roofs. Counting land, infrastructure and stadium, the Cobb project comes in at $670 million and is due to open for the 2017 season.
• The public purse often seals the deal, even with a franchise as rich as the Braves. Cobb County’s share is $300 million.
Total costs in Atlanta — including a real estate development on the site — could top $1 billion, a “staggering figure,” said Hillsborough County Commissioner Ken Hagan.
“But each project is unique,” he said. “I don’t think that model is a reflection of what may potentially happen here.”
Still, if a majority of commissioners there agree, Cobb will become a stadium pathfinder today — just as Miami and Minneapolis have since the Rays began their quest. If St. Petersburg ever lets the team and Tampa officials start talking, the Braves deal will help define the conversation.