The awfulness of the Braves Cobb County stadium deal

11/16/13 in MLB   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

Blog Photo - The awfulness of the Braves Cobb County stadium dealThere is no need to bury the lede on this one. The Atlanta Braves new stadium deal is a disgrace, especially for Cobb County taxpayers. It is the worst of corporate welfare, where the public pays for a large hunk of a billionaire or corporation's new shiny toy, while the billionaire/corporation reaps all the benefit.

It was a shock to begin with when the Braves announced the move. Turner Field has been their home for less than 20 years, and they're going against the recent trend of putting ballpark near the urban center. Given the map of their season ticket holders, it's not the worst idea in the world, and there would be no issue if the Braves (owned by Liberty Media) were paying for it 100%. Are they? Of course not. That's not how it's worked for a very long time.

The funding scheme with Cobb County was announced on Thursday. According to reports, county officials were adamant about not levying any new taxes. Also, according to the Cobb County GOP in as blatant example of thinly veiled racism you can find, the agreement also couldn't allow for expanded public transportation from the city (read: black people) to the county. The result was this:
  • The Braves will contribute $280 million up front, and $92 million more over the course of the agreement
  • The county will pay $14 million up front for transportation improvements
  • The country will also kick in $276 million by issuing bonds. Those bonds will be repaid by:
  • A new rental car tax ($400,000 a year)
  • An existing hotel/motel tax ($940,000 a year)
  • A new hotel/motel tax ($2.74 million a year)
  • A new property tax in a self-taxing commercial district ($5.15 million a year)
  • Shifting already collected property tax money ($8.67 million)
Are those estimate accurate? Who knows? What happens when there are cost overruns? Nobody knows yet. Even so, the galling thing is the over $8 million of taxes every year for 30 years that will moved from other things to pay for this stadium. This from a county that furloughed teachers this year. The priorities are horrible. Even worse, because there are no new taxes in the county itself (just the self-taxing area), the County Commission can simply vote on it with no input from the voters. The taxpayers of Cobb County will pay for this ballpark without having any say in it.

Unfortunately, this is usually how these things work. A bankrupt Detroit is on the hook for 60% of the Red Wings new arena. The Minnesota Vikings new stadium deal has been a boondoggle from the start. The claims of economic benefit are almost always inflated and almost always wrong. Public financing of stadiums is the biggest problem in sports, and other than possibly brain trauma in football, nothing else is even close. The Braves deal has not been received well. Could this be the turning point that ends this madness? We can only hope.
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11/18/13   |   ML31   |   3678 respect

Well...  The Giants paid for 100% of their own ball park.  So such a thing is not extinct in today's world.  Just rare. 

But...  You can add Santa Clara to the cities paying for stadiums who can't afford one.  The City of Santa Clara is on the hook for more than $800 million.  Doubtful they will ever break even on that.  Let alone make any money off it.  Further...  The measure that passed over a year ago stated that only $250 million would be paid by the city and that would come from redevelopment money.  Since it passed, Governor Brown rescinded all redevelopment monies to cities.  Then, suddenly it was reported that Santa Clara had successfully procured $800 million in loads from various financial institutions.  Meaning that the billion dollar stadium would be covered 80% by Santa Clara and 20% by the NFL stadium fund.  How much did the 49'ers contribute?  ZERO.  Levi Stadium will be an albatross to the City for a very long time.  And BTW...  What did the 49'ers do for Santa Clara in return for $800 million for free?  Absolutely nothing.  They didn't even change their name to that of their new home.  The 49ers essentially gave the City of Santa Clara the finger.

PS...  There was nothing racist about the lack of public transportation to the new Braves stadium.  The current one doesn't have any either....