Great Moments in Public Financing of Ballparks


The financing and building of the Braves new ballpark continues to be wonderful.

It’s not necessarily unusual. It’s not like what they’re doing is impermissible. Indeed, with the little bit about the ethics of one of the county board members aside, everything that Cobb County, Georgia and the Braves are doing has been done in some form elsewhere before and is going to be approved and the park will be finished on schedule, one presumes.

But it is wonderful because the stuff that everyone involved is pulling on this deal is being reported with some degree of criticism by the big local paper, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Often you see local paper play lapdog to those behind the stadium deals because the paper is published by people favor of such deals and may, in some cases, even be a part of such deals.

Not so in Atlanta where, from what I can tell, the folks down in the city proper are not fans of the Braves moving and/or how it all went down and thus are not attempting to provide the usual polish one usually sees on the turds that are publicly-financed ballparks. They’re actually stating what is going on in pretty plain terms.

For example, often time there will be weird machinations regarding the issuing of bonds to pay for ballparks — or in any public financing scheme — with the creation of quasi-public “stadium authorities” which technically administer such things. There are good reasons for that. There are also some less-good reasons for that which involve the shielding of the process from public scrutiny and ability of the authority to skirt rules that governments would have to abide by if they were running the show themselves. You tend not to hear too much about all of this, as the local paper usually just treats the authority as a Thing Created By God that is not questioned.

In the case of the Braves new ballpark, however, the AJC ran a story yesterday that actually articulated the argument of opponents of the ballpark in a way that makes one realize how silly all of this is:

Lawyers for Cobb County government say their plan to borrow nearly $400 million for the new Atlanta Braves stadium without a public vote is legal, because the bond issuance isn’t considered “debt within the meaning of the Georgia Constitution . . .  The key to the county’s argument is that they are not issuing the bonds — that will be done by the quasi-governmental Cobb-Marietta Coliseum and Exhibit Hall Authority. They county is pledging $18 million annually to cover the debt, and will use a combination of property taxes (new and existing), new hotel room fees, a new rental car tax and the existing hotel-motel tax to raise those funds.

In other words “yes, citizens, your tax money is being used to pay off $400 million worth of money borrowed for a ballpark at the instigation of your elected officials, but since we formed this commission to handle the paperwork, you don’t have a right to, you know, vote on it.”

Which, again, is common. Form over substance is the name of the game when it comes to the public financing of, well, almost anything. I assume will ultimately be ratified by a judge and all of this will go on the way the county and the Braves want it to.

But take a moment to think about whether the logic behind your usual public financing — one which goes to a public good which serves the interests of all citizens — is the same as the logic behind that which serves the interest of a professional sports team and its very small number of actual, tangible stakeholders. And take a moment to consider whether something being permissible and something being right is the same thing.

McCutchen’s sacrifice fly lifts Pirates to 5-4 win, extends Athletics’ road losing streak to 15

Scott Galvin-USA TODAY Sports
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PITTSBURGH – Andrew McCutchen’s tiebreaking sacrifice fly in the eighth inning lifted Pittsburgh to a 5-4 victory over Oakland on Monday night, extending the Pirates’ win streak to six games and sending the Athletics to their record-tying 15th consecutive road loss.

The 15 straight defeats away from home matches the Athletics’ record since they moved from Kansas City in 1968. Oakland set that mark in 1986.

The major league-worst Athletics (12-50) have lost five games in a row overall. They are on pace to finish the season exactly 100 games under .500 at 31-131.

“It’s tough,” Athletics manager Mark Kotsay said. “Tonight’s game, we didn’t play well enough to win the game. I don’t want to say we gave the game away but there were a lot of instances where we had a chance to capitalize on opportunities and didn’t do it.”

McCutchen also singled and drew three walks to go with two RBIs. The 2013 NL MVP now has 1,998 career hits.

With the score tied at 4, Ji Hwan Bae led off the decisive eighth inning with a single off Sam Moll (0-3) and advanced to third on Austin Hedges’ one-out single. McCutchen’s sac fly plated Bae.

“I was just trying to get the job done. I understand the situation there,” McCutchen said. “We just need to get the run. I was trying to bear down against a hard thrower and trying to get that run in as much as I can, and I was able to do it and have a good at-bat.”

Angel Perdomo (1-0) retired both hitters he faced. and Colin Holdeman pitched a scoreless ninth inning for his first career save. It was an eventful inning for Holderman as the first three batters reached base, but he struck out Carlos Perez with runners on the corners to end it.

“I began my career as a starting pitcher in the minor leagues but ever since I was switched to relief, this has been the goal, to get a save in the big leagues,” Holderman said.

Pittsburgh starter Johan Oviedo gave up three runs and four hits with five strikeouts and two walks.

Oakland left-hander JP Sears did not allow a hit until Mark Mathias’ leadoff single in the fifth but was unable to make it through the inning. Sears was charged with one run in 4 2/3 innings while allowing two hits, walking five and striking out six.

Sears has not allowed more than two runs in five consecutive starts. His nine no-decisions are the most in the major leagues.

Ryan Noda and Brent Rooker had two hits each for the Athletics.

The Athletics tied the score at 4-4 in the eighth inning on pinch-hitter Aledmys Diaz’s run-scoring double. Oakland left the bases loaded, though, when Nick Allen hit an inning-ending flyout.

Consecutive bases-loaded walks keyed a three-run sixth inning that put the Pirates 4-3. McCutchen and Bryan Reynolds each worked bases on balls off Shintaro Fujinami to tie the score at 3-all and pinch-hitter Jack Suwinski followed with a sacrifice fly.

The Athletics opened the scoring in the first inning when rookie Esteury Ruiz reached on catcher’s interference, stole his MLB-leading 30th base of the season and scored on Noda’s single. Seth Brown doubled in a run in the third and came home on Perez’s sacrifice fly to push Oakland’s lead to 3-0.

Connor Joe hit an RBI double for the Pirates in the fifth.

The Pirates drew 10 walks, their most in a game in nearly two years.

“We had a bunch of opportunities that we didn’t capitalize (on), but the thing I think I was most proud of is we got down and we didn’t rush to get back,” Pittsburgh manager Derek Shelton said. “We were still patient.”


Athletics: LHP Kirby Snead (strained shoulder) is expected to pitch in the Arizona Complex League on Tuesday, which will be his first game action since spring training. … RHP Freddy Tarnok (strained shoulder) will throw a bullpen on Tuesday.


Pirates catching prospect Henry Davis was promoted to Triple-A Indianapolis from Double-A Altoona. In 41 games at Double-A this season, the 23-year-old hit .284 with 10 home runs and seven stolen bases.

“He was performing offensively at a level where we felt like he was more than ready to meet the challenges,” Pirates general manager Ben Cherington said. “He improved as an offensive player even since spring training, focusing on the things we were challenging him on. Defensively, he’s made strides too.”

Davis was the first overall selection in the 2021 amateur draft from the University of Louisville.


Athletics RHP James Kaprielian (0-6, 8.12 ERA) will make his first start in June after taking the loss in all four starts in May and face RHP Mitch Keller (7-1, 3.25). Keller has eight or more strikeouts in seven consecutive starts, the longest streak by a Pirates pitcher in the modern era (since 1901).