The details are in: Cobb County residents will be paying a lot of money for the new Braves park

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Via Deadspin, we have the Memorandum of Understanding outlining the method in which the Braves new ballpark in Cobb County will be paid for. Here it is if you’d like to check it out.

As mentioned this morning, it’s 55% Braves money, 45% Cobb County. The breakdown is like so, though:

  • The Braves will pay $280 million up front, adding $92 million more in the future;
  • Cobb County will pay $14 million up front in transportation improvements and $10 million more in general funds from a special business district.
  • The county will finance the remaining $276 million by issuing revenue bonds.

Of course, payments need to be made on bonds. They’ll be paid like so:

  • $400,000 a year from a new rental car tax;
  • $940,000 a year from an existing hotel/motel tax;
  • $2,740,000 a year from a new hotel/motel fee in that special business district;
  • $5,150,000 a year from a property tax increase in the special business district;
  • $8,670,000 a year from reallocating Cobb County property taxes.

The upshot? Politicians can and will say that they’ve only raised taxes in two small places — on out of towners in hotels and people in a special business district who probably knew this sort of thing could happen — and thus it’s a nice, impact-light, conservative-happy financing plan.

Except when you reallocate existing taxes to pay for a ballpark, you are taking them away from uses to which they are already being put. How much of the over $10 million a year moved toward the ballpark is being taken away from already-strapped schools, mental health services, parks, police, fire and other public uses?

And except that, if those rental car and bed taxes don’t provide the funds these estimates think they will, it will almost certainly be taxpayers footing the bill for the shortfall.

Also: if they have the will to raise new taxes in special improvement districts and on out-of-towners for this, why would doing it for any other purpose have led to accusations of creeping socialism and business and job-killing and the like? “Because we like sports,” is the answer, I suppose, “and we’ll now get nice seats at Braves games.”

All of which would be fine if the ballpark would bring economic benefits — benefits which go to the public who is paying for 45% of it — in equal or greater measure. But as we know from history, it is rarely if ever the case that sports facilities or events bring such benefits.

But hey, if that’s what Cobb County wants, at least it’s being done through the democratic process, right? It may be a bad decision to use public funds to pay for the Braves new park, but there’s nothing that says that taxpayers can’t decide to do dumb things. Right?

Because there are no new taxes here outside of the self-taxing CID, the County Commission can approve the proposal without a countywide referendum. Cobb County residents will cover nearly half of the Braves’ ballpark without getting to vote on it.

Oh. Well then.

Biden praises Braves’ ‘unstoppable, joyful run’ to 2021 win

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
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WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden said the Atlanta Braves will be “forever known as the upset kings of October” for their improbable 2021 World Series win, as he welcomed the team to the White House for a victory celebration.

Biden called the Braves’ drive an “unstoppable, joyful run.” The team got its White House visit in with just over a week left before the 2022 regular season wraps up and the Major League Baseball playoffs begin again. The Braves trail the New York Mets by 1.5 games in the National League East but have clinched a wildcard spot for the MLB playoffs that begin Oct. 7. Chief Executive Officer Terry McGuirk said he hoped they’d be back to the White House again soon.

In August 2021, the Braves were a mess, playing barely at .500. But then they started winning. And they kept it up, taking the World Series in six games over the Houston Astros.

Biden called their performance of “history’s greatest turnarounds.”

“This team has literally been part of American history for over 150 years,” said Biden. “But none of it came easy … people counting you out. Heck, I know something about being counted out.”

Players lined up on risers behind Biden, grinning and waving to the crowd, but the player most discussed was one who hasn’t been on the team in nearly 50 years and who died last year: Hall of Famer Hank Aaron.

Hammerin’ Hank was the home run king for 33 years, dethroning Babe Ruth with a shot to left field on April 8, 1974. He was one of the most famous players for Atlanta and in baseball history, a clear-eyed chronicler of the hardships thrown his way – from the poverty and segregation of his Alabama youth to the racist threats he faced during his pursuit of one of America’s most hallowed records. He died in January at 86.

“This is team is defined by the courage of Hank Aaron,” Biden said.

McGuirk said Aaron, who held front office positions with the team and was one of Major League Baseball’s few Black executives, was watching over them.

“He’d have been there every step of the way with us if he was here,” McGuirk added.

The president often honors major league and some college sports champions with a White House ceremony, typically a nonpartisan affair in which the commander in chief pays tribute to the champs’ prowess, poses for photos and comes away with a team jersey.

Those visits were highly charged in the previous administration. Many athletes took issue with President Donald Trump’s policies and rhetoric on policing, immigration and more. Trump, for his part, didn’t take kindly to criticism from athletes or their on-field expressions of political opinions.

Under Biden, the tradition appears to be back. He’s hosted the NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks and Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the White House. On Monday he joked about first lady Jill Biden’s Philadelphia allegiances.

“Like every Philly fan, she’s convinced she knows more about everything in sports than anybody else,” he said. He added that he couldn’t be too nice to the Atlanta team because it had just beaten the Phillies the previous night in extra innings.

Press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was later questioned about the team’s name, particularly as other professional sports teams have moved away from names – like the Cleveland Indians, now the Guardians, and the Washington Redskins, now the Commanders – following years of complaints from Native American groups over the images and symbols.

She said it was important for the country to have the conversation. “And Native American and Indigenous voices – they should be at the center of this conversation,” she said.

Biden supported MLB’s decision to pull the 2021 All-Star Game from Atlanta to protest Georgia’s sweeping new voting law, which critics contend is too restrictive.