Braves Move to Cobb County – what’s the rush and impact?

3-20-2014: Colonial pipelines and Atlanta Gas pipelines need to be physically rerouted around the stadium development with possible interruption of I-285 traffic?

New shuttle service for the Cumberland District including the ballpark is estimated to cot $900,000 to develop and $850,000 per year to operate. The county plans to raise almost $3 million each year – so what are they going to do with the $2 million extra $?

Current estimated Cobb County investment plans on the $300 million of initial construction and another $35 million cap on maintenance expenses…not to mention your Cobb County water system bill increasing to cover extra capacity requirement of caring and operating water needs of stadium; bus line mentioned above; reduction of travelers to Cumberland Mall area during game days to avoid the area of traffic congestion; road change and enhancements to move traffic; etc,.

Update 1-10-2014: I think the quote from Mayor Kasim Reed in the January 3-9, 2014 Atlanta business chronicle (page 21A) is very telling about the Atlanta Braves impact to Cobb county: “the Braves are not a direct source of revenue for the city of Atlanta.”

I like the Braves and business growth, but let’s keep their development “out of Cobb” until we can digest more details especially why Cobb County needs to own a stadium!

And what’s the rush after the news “just leaked out” – don’t the citizens of Cobb deserve a little more time to know details of who owns what, are we going to be more successful than every other ball park in the US, and who is on the hook for it throughout its lifetime? Slow down and take a little more time to evaluate. Maybe make a decision by December 6th? Even Clark Howard says he doesn’t like to be rushed on a consumer decision to be made quickly.

As a citizen, I would first like Cobb Commissioners to see the financial numbers of every other city in the US that has a stadium. I want to compare Cobb’s Projected Numbers – not sure where or how they were compiled or if Cobb will track all revenues and expenses from this “project” or have an independent citizen review committee to analyze actual payback? with their actual numbers of construction, maintenance and demolition of the stadiums and impact on their cities. Will the stadium cost >$672 Million? Oh, here’s an interesting article on economic success (i.e., failure) of stadiums around the country.

First, who will build and own the stadium? Cobb County Taxpayers will through the Cobb-Marietta Coliseum & Exhibit Hall Authority. Like the question in the 11-22-2013 Marietta Daily Journal, what “dream team” construction team is in charge of building the stadium since Cobb doesn’t have the experience? Same ones who built Kennesaw’s soccer stadium or another stadium in the US?

Next, why not grant some tax relief incentive and not use public money (thru a Bond – i.e., debt) to foot almost 50% of the estimated construction costs of a private company’s building? So Cobb can spend $300 Million plus interest and gets $Millions per year back (about 50% of that based on reallocation of exiting revenues – huh?) Wow – What a deal for taxpayers…huh…(excluding all expenses and revenues we haven’t seen any details on yet) over 20+ years?

Third, what taxpayers are going to foot the bill for stadium (and pass that bill onto consumers)? Supposedly, all businesses surrounding stadium will pay property & some sales taxes to Cobb; corporate and vacation travelers staying in “certain” Cobb County hotels (in CID or all over Cobb?) through increased rates; those renting cars in Cobb (as opposed to those renting them at the Atlanta airport), and the Cumberland area business district retailers/businesses (or all Cobb County businesses) through increased fees.

Next, 6,000 parking spots for average of 31,500 fans/game or about 10,000+ cars that sit on Interstate waiting for those 6,000 spots – is this a move by Cobb to put mass transit to the test? And who plans to drive down on game night just to shop or eat at businesses around the stadium?

Braves plans for developing the multi-purpose stadium and vicinity – not alot of parking? walk to stadium from Cumberland Mall? Are you kidding me?

But wait…there’s more…don’t want to get lost in the details, but there are some questions, in addition to a thorough need for an analysis of impact of extra traffic at the busiest intersection in Atlanta metro area after work (and about game time):

(1) Ownership: If Cobb & visitors to Cobb at hotels foots 45% of cost, then does (Marietta City Hall & Museum Authority) Cobb own 45% of stadium, or do we turn over ownership to Braves? If we turn it over, why not let the Braves owner build it..if Cobb owns part, why? Are we guaranteed a non revocable lease of $3 Million for 20+ years to pay back some of our “investment”?

This also begs the question of who is responsible for repairs, modifications (like the $200+ Million the Braves were asking to be done on the Ted), maintenance, and eventual destruction of the facility? Will that be on the back of taxpayer or business visitors?

(2) Finance: Since the stadium would need funds now, Cobb will issue $300 Million in Bonds (at a current % rate) and pay it back over 10 years with “projected” revenue from property taxes/hotel/motel/car rental revenue in Cobb County? How valid are the projected numbers and what are they based on?

(3) Mass Transit: How many more buses/shuttle buses, bus drivers, bus maintenance and replacement costs, etc…to support transportation to/from the stadium 81 times per year? And from where do they pickup these baseball fans – Cumberland Mall which has limited parking and a private parking lot? This sounds like a back end way to force Cobb into the rail transit line or MARTA.

(4) Pedestrian Bridges: Not only the cost of the bridge themselves will be on back of all taxpayers, but if you build and maintain them, will they come? It’s quite a hike no matter if over I-285 from Cumberland Mall or across I-75 and you may still need transportation around the ball park and pavilion/shopping areas at a cost to taxpayers or users?

(5) What do we do with a stadium once the Braves decide to move again? How much will it cost taxpayers for demolition or the next deal to attract an occupant?

(6) How do other local business owners feel about higher fees and taxes to pay for stadium?

(7) Crime: Let’s ask those in Atlantic Station why they moved because of increased crime in the area after construction of multi-purpose complex? And name another stadium built within a congested area that crime fell? With more foot traffic of people with cash, more crime follows.

(8) Police & Fire & EMS services: More police & emergency personnel staffing (including more autos/ambulances/911 staffing – wow, think of any bomb threats to clear the stadium?), and police cars and now segways will be needed for traffic flow and protection of fans during games- and don’t forget extra fire an EMS service personnel. And the extra equipment for both services…and the extra insurance that may be required if something bad happens and Cobb County gets sued.

(9) Infrastructure: Local and interstate road/ramp exits expansion, maintenance, accident control, etc…caused by extra game day traffic. Also, extra strain on electric, water supply and sewers may require millions of dollars of improvement and maintenance.

(10) Are we robbing Peter to Pay Homer?: Are we pulling money from other areas or reducing budgets of other needs to build and maintain this stadium and surrounding area? How bout the parks and recreation millage rate that is to expire to pay off the parks bond in 2017? If not expiring, it effectively raises taxes higher than if it had expired.

(11) Cobb Stadium/Event Venue Experience so far:

(a) Has the Cobb Energy Center turned profit or paid for itself?
(b) How about Kennesaw State’s stadium – is it paid for already by gate receipts?

(12) Cobb Quality of life before and after – Like other MLB team ticket prices – pricing for Braves rivals will go up and be more unaffordable, extra traffic, more congestion affecting businesses immediately outside this new area, more businesses that we split our income supporting when Braves are in town…some people decide not to go to and avoid any traffic at shops on the way to or near the stadium.

(13) Legal issues and liability: Based on the recent $35 million judgment from Six Flags beating death, is Cobb County bearing the risk of any type of lawsuit for any actions occurring on site? Will Cobb County be properly insured for liability?

(14) What does Cobb intend to use the stadium the other 180 days of the year? Actually, until the MLB season is over, there are limited uses of the stadium so it reduces the days to about 180+ days.

(15) What other success story in the MLB, NBA, NFL can we mimic or follow (or avoid) to make this a win-win for everyone?

Bottom Line: It’s over – the decision was made before the citizens get a chance to vent – it’s a done deal…

Now if it doesn’t work out, the Cobb Commissioners who voted for it before they investigated the details of what’s in it and passed it are generally Republicans and won’t be here to hear the complaints!

Updated comments after original post:

Remember, the more money you have, the more vultures are there to grab at it – and vultures include local Government wanting to spend the money on other things.

– will there be enough minority owned businesses or employees or is this going to be just a “white thing”? Is Cobb ready for the challenges and lawsuits?

– how will all the lower income people get to the stadium to work in the restaurants/vending – not all in cars, so mass transit will need to increase?

– when light rail and express lanes are built along I-75 corridor, then taxpayers will be paying again for these “improvements”?

– and what will businesses immediately outside the area of the stadium think when people avoid hopping there on game nights to avoid the traffic congestion?

– this was Cobb’s plan all along to force mass transit and light rail to bring those criminals from Atlanta to Cobb’s doorstep – no wonder Loud Security was in favor – sells more security systems!

11-26-13: Who pays for electricity and how is it charged back to users/taxpayers? Does Cobb County pay for electricity such as security lights and power to facility throughout the year and how much of that is paid for by the Braves, only the marginal usage during game nights?

Two more thoughts for words of wisdom: FiberNet and Marietta Conference Center!

11-27-2013: Will Cobb County be restricted by government contracting rule by choosing contractor and accepting “lowest” bids and be prepared for lawsuits that challenge their purchasing practice for this “unique” project?

Building material costs have grown >36% in the past 2 years – what guarantee do we have other than building a stadium from the lowest bidder to hold costs down and still turn a quality product?

Will there be separate billing and cost accounts so Cobb Taxpayer know “exactly” how much this project will cost Cobb?

11-29-2013: Baltimore Oriole’s Camden Yards hasn’t resulted in the promise of revenues everyone projected and Washington National’s are asking for a $300 Million roof on new stadium. Gee, do you think the dumb Cobb County Commissioners didn’t see this coming?

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.