The Marietta Daily Journal – Local officials react to Braves decision

11
Nov

The Marietta Daily Journal – Local officials react to Braves decision

CUMBERLAND — Cobb’s elected leaders gushed with praise for Monday’s announcement that the Atlanta Braves plan to move into a new baseball stadium that will be built in the Galleria area by 2017.

The decision to abandon Turner Field near downtown Atlanta in favor of a new $672 million site in the northwest quadrant of Interstates 75 and 285 was made in quiet conversations between Braves representatives and Cobb Chairman Tim Lee, officials said.

Commissioner Bob Ott, who represents the area, said he only found out about the negotiations “about a week ago” but feels it’s a good deal for the county and its taxpayers.

“I think it’s going to move the Cumberland area in the direction that they’ve been trying to go for a long time,” Ott said. “Looking at the numbers I think it’s an overall positive for Cobb County and a big economic boost.”

The new ball park falls within the boundaries of the Cumberland Community Improvement District, a self-taxing area that uses its revenue for infrastructure improvements.

Ott said 99 percent of county taxpayers should not expect to see any tax increase tied to the stadium project.

“The businesses around there are going to be footing the bill,” he said.

Big boost for hotels

Ott said he would sacrifice his principles as a fiscal conservative even for a glitzy relocation like the Atlanta Braves.

“I didn’t go off on some wild goose chase here. I’m comfortable with the numbers and I think myself and the other commissioners have tried real hard to be good fiscal stewards of the money and not going off in some wild direction here,” he said. “And I think people should reserve their judgment until after the numbers are released.”

Ott said the project would generate about 400,000 new hotel stays per year.

“That’s going to be an impact in itself,” he said.

Neither the commissioners nor the Braves executives would say Monday where the financing for the project would come from.

At this point, they are focusing on the economic impact.

What Ott said puts the project over the top for him is that it’s more than just a stadium.

“The Braves want to build something that’s 24/7, 365-days-a-year where there’s stuff to do,” Ott said.

Ott hearing about traffic concerns

With 60 acres of wooded land being converted into an intensely developed entertainment district, the impact on the county’s tax rolls would be huge, said Ott.

“A lot of people didn’t realize there was that much land out there,” Ott said. “Sixty acres is a massive mixed-use development, and that’s what it’s supposed to be in Cumberland.”

Ott said he was already hearing from his constituents on Monday. He said his email inbox was flooded and his cellphone was lighting up.

“I think the biggest concern people have is traffic,” he said. “But there are $580 million of transportation projects coming on line in that area in the next 10 years, where you have the diamond interchange and you have the reversible lanes. So there’s some good plans out there to address those concerns.

“I just think it’s going to lift everybody up out in that area. I think overall it will be a positive. It’s just sudden, new, and huge.”

Birrell, Goreham on board

The Braves hope to have the stadium completed by opening day in 2017.

It will provide a “massive boost” to Cobb’s travel and tourism industry, said Commissioner JoAnn Birrell, who represents northeast Cobb.

Northwest Cobb Commissioner Helen Goreham agrees.

“I believe we’re going to see an uptick in tourism dollars from the standpoint of hotel nights to shopping in our stores to visiting venues such as the Southern Museum of History up in Kennesaw,” Goreham said.

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