Will Fulton County Get Involved in Braves Negotiations?

Commissioner Robb Pitts (D2 At Large) hopes so. He sent out a press release today indicating he will introduce legislation at Wednesday’s Fulton Board of Commissioners meeting urging ongoing negotiation between the Braves, the county, the city of Atlanta, the Atlanta-Fulton Recreation Authority and the business community.

In the press release, Pitts said,

There are several accounts suggesting that the move to Cobb County may not be a done deal. If that is the case, we need to do all we can to keep the team and the associated revenue in Fulton County. As I’ve said before, this is a business decision. We’re in this together, but because Turner Field is owned by the Atlanta-Fulton Recreation Authority, the Authority should be the primary contact in this process, along with Fulton County and the City of Atlanta.

Fulton County has a longstanding relationship with the Braves and with Turner Field through the Recreation Authority and other interests. We need a seat at the table and must be included in the process, whatever the outcome.

If Pitts is successful in getting the legislation passed, Fulton will join the Atlanta City Council, which passed a resolution on Monday in support of keeping the Braves in the city by a vote of 11-2.

28 comments

  1. Harry says:

    Dealing with the useless Atlanta-Fulton Recreation Authority is one of the main reasons – if not the main reason – the Braves are leaving, so Pitts is “off base” right there. The Braves made it very clear in initial negotiations that they wished to deal directly with the mayor’s office and remove the Rec Authority offices from the stadium. If Atlanta/Fulton is serious they need to dismantle that little bureaucracy, but won’t happen. Catch the Braves in Cobb County.

  2. Baker says:

    Apparently my “Reply” button is not working but Harry nails it. I’m disgusted by the whole thing and anyone that has read anything I’ve written about this knows that I am vehemently against the move. That said, for Pitts to think that having the Fulton Rec Authority involved will help things is blindness at the extreme. Much has been written about how poorly that board served the Braves and the millions of dollars that have been funneled through it have basically disappeared. While I think the Braves should’ve been more outspoken about their frustrations with local leaders, I can understand a reticence to do so, but I think that is BS.

    If Kasim Reed really thought he could lure the Braves back I think he would put his foot down and say the Rec Authority is out of the discussion. Unfortunately, barring a miracle in Cobb County next week, I think the move is done and Kasim will do nothing, allowing a corrupt wreck that is the Rec Authority to continue its shenanigans in whatever way they can now that they’ve lost their biggest client.

    I remain heartbroken and furious at all parties.

    If you want to rip your hair out about this and start counting up the millions that vanished, read this from Atlanta Magazine:

    http://www.atlantamagazine.com/features/2013/06/21/turner-field-development

    • atl_man says:

      All right, go ahead and count up the millions. I didn’t see a whole lot: a few million here and there that was given to a few groups and authorities over decades. $3 million here for FanPlex, $7 million from parking revenues (at a $446,000 a year rate by the way), $2.5 million there … we are talking about maybe $15-20 million that was doled out over a very long period of time. You can have a legitimate gripe about the $50 million that the Summerhill Neighborhood Development Corporation received from various sources, but SNDC is not Invest Atlanta or anything else having to do with the city or county government, and even that was not anywhere near what was really needed.

      And talking about how the Fulton Rec Authority “poorly served the Braves” is hilarious. As if the Fulton Rec Authority had half a billion dollars that they decided to spend on Rolexes and Rolls Royces for themselves instead. They didn’t have anywhere near the resources needed to redevelop that area. And even if they did, SHOULD THEY HAVE? It is funny how so many “limited government conservatives” are bashing the city for failing to pour hundreds of millions into economic development projects for one tiny part of the city that would not have benefited anyone else just to keep the Braves.

      Look, stop blindly accepting the Braves’ line. The reality is that the Braves’ current ownership is not from Atlanta but is corporate owned. They have no stake downtown or anywhere else but their own profit margins. For them, chasing their ticket-buyers (and fleecing a Cobb County government desperately seeking “relevance”) is a no-brainer. Blaming their business decision on Atlanta’s politicians and residents in order to blunt criticism is just “southern strategy” politics ready-made to appeal to a bunch of (mostly right-leaning) people who are already predisposed to believe that stuff about the city and its leaders anyway.

      That’s why the Braves negotiated in secret. They didn’t want the city to have time to come up with a counter-offer. Now of course, a counter-offer would still not have worked, but the city could have easily come up with a pitch that undermined the Braves’ rationale for moving, and the Braves didn’t want the city to do that. Instead, they want the storyline to be that they are refugees from crime, urban decay, economic blight and incompetent and corrupt politicians just like everyone else who left the city for the suburbs because they knew that would be a storyline that would sell to every GOPer in metro Atlanta (and nationwide for that matter). For example, the Braves didn’t like the current site? There were a number of areas that the city would have been more than happy to give to the Braves, starting with the Doraville GM plant site (which a lot of folks felt would have been an ideal site for the Falcons new stadium by the way). But the Braves don’t want you to know that. They just want you to focus on how they are getting away from an urban area as fast as they can because they know that will be swallowed hook, line and sinker without any question by their ticket buyers who did the same thing and are thrilled to have the Braves’ validate their decision.

      But just because that’s their story doesn’t mean that you have to buy it. Because, you know, everything a corporation says isn’t always true. Look, Snickers may be packed with peanuts (and other stuff) but it doesn’t REALLY satisfy. State Farm is a good neighbor … until you actually need them to pay out on a policy that is. Choosing one alcoholic beverage over another won’t make you “the most interesting man in the world.” So despite what Liberty Media is selling you in their slick ad campaigns, the truth is that even if Ronald Reagan was the mayor of Atlanta, Margaret Thatcher the head of the Fulton County Commission and Ariel Sharon the leader of the Atlanta-Fulton Rec Department, the Braves were still going to chase more money in the suburbs just like practically every other pro sports franchise has done. The “New York” Jets and the “New York” Giants play in the Meadowlands, NEW JERSEY and we are supposed to simply believe that the Braves were going to stay in Atlanta had Kasim Reed been more proactive. Sure … and I have some exclusive beachfront property in Tifton to sell you real cheap …

      • Jon Richards says:

        Well, first of all, the Doraville site was considered by the Braves, but passed over, probably because it was too close to the farm team Gwinnett Braves. And, it wasn’t the city’s to give, since it’s in Doraville.

        Second, from what I understand, the Braves didn’t want the Rec Authority to redevelop the area around the stadium. They wanted permission to do it themselves, possibly bringing in other partners. That idea was rejected.

        • MattMD says:

          Doraville wants nothing to do with any stadium. Anybody that throws that out there is just trolling with stink-bait.

        • atl_man says:

          @Jon Richards:

          “They wanted permission to do it themselves, possibly bringing in other partners. That idea was rejected.”

          Sure. Like the city wouldn’t have changed their mind when it was clear that the Braves were going to move. They would have. That was why the Braves negotiated in secret. They didn’t want the city to have a chance to meet their demands, especially easy to meet ones where the Braves would have put up all the money.

          Look, if you choose to believe that Liberty Media WANTED to spend half a billion dollars to redevelop the Turner Field area THEMSELVES over fleecing the Cobb County taxpayers for more valuable real estate and a better location, then that is your prerogative. Just know that it doesn’t make you any different from the folks who believed Enron, Arthur Anderson, Lehman Brothers, Goldman Sachs etc. back in the day. Or the folks on the gulf coast who believed BP when they told them that they were going to take every available safety and quality measure on their off-shore drilling and not cut corners. How’d that work out for them?

          Look, I am not anti-corporation. Quite the contrary, I have worked for several (including one of the most despised one in Wal-Mart) and own stock in quite a few. I am just telling you … corporations will sell you a bill of goods in a heartbeat. That is actually, you know, what they do and stuff. But it is amazing how everyone will manufacture outrage over healthcare.gov being broken but doesn’t say squat when Sony ships millions of Playstations in order to meet a launch deadline knowing full well that a good percentage of them won’t even turn on because of a problem in their manufacturing process. (Samsung and Apple did the same thing with their smart devices by the way. Because of a rush to get their products on the market, they sold products knowing that a ton of them were flawed because they planned to swap them out for models that actually worked later. Microsoft? Same deal. They release buggy, flawed products all the time – not beta versions but commercially released products – and then tell their customers to “wait for the service pack that we will release in two months.” Oh yeah, but the we are not going to delay the license expiration date. The clock is still ticking on that even though your software doesn’t work and what you paid for is worthless.) For crying out loud people, why are we so willing to just accept what these people say?

      • Harry says:

        The Braves represent about 2% ($225 million) of the revenues of Liberty Media ($11 billion). This relocation is just pure business. If Cobb County balks or doesn’t come across with a sufficiently rich package, then no doubt they’d look elsewhere in the southeast. They pull fans from the entire region. Charlotte and Nashville are probably in the mix as backup alternatives.

      • Dave Bearse says:

        The idea has merit. However Jon Richards and MattMD properly noted the GM site wasn’t the city’s to offer, and it would be adamantly opposed by Doraville.

        The GM site adjacent to the Perimeter is barely ITP. The Cobb site is only about 2,000 feet OTP. The GM site is not more urban than the Cobb site beyond it’s MARTA access.

        • TheEiger says:

          The reason they probably didn’t want the GM site is because it isn’t free and the location in Cobb was cheaper. As has already been mentioned Doraville doesn’t own the GM plant. GM does. The Braves probably didn’t want to deal with GM. They want way too much for the property. Don’t you think there would already be something being built there if the GM was willing to sell it for a good price?

  3. Noway says:

    Remind me again why it was the Braves’ job to “redevelop” any damn thing. I thought they were a sports team. Those who actually worked for the team in various ways were the ones who EARNED a paycheck.

    • atl_man says:

      @Noway:

      “Those who actually worked for the team in various ways were the ones who EARNED a paycheck.”

      There you go again, calling Atlanta people lazy welfare bums looking for a handout. Anyway, no one claimed that the Braves were obligated to redevelop the Turner Field area. Instead, the Braves LIED and claimed that the lack of redevelopment there was their reason for moving to Cobb County. Of course, you won’t admit that they are lying because in your ideological world, corporations are always more honest and trustworthy than urban dwellers and politicians. Right, Mr. Southern Strategy code word?

      For goodness sakes, I actually prefer the people on American Renaissance, Stormfront, Vanguard, Vdare.org etc. because they are brave enough to actually say what they are thinking instead of hiding behind politically accepted euphemisms.

      • Baker says:

        Dude…you’ve been spending way too much time on those other sites because we’re just not thinking that…or at least I’m not…but I feel pretty comfortable saying the others are not as well.

        I did not think Liberty Media was going to pump any money into the area, but the Braves had been strung along by the city for years, decades, saying there were going to and there never was any change. It’s as simple as that. I still think it’s messed up that the Braves are moving and it’s caused me to seriously question my continued fanaticism for them, but you can’t deny the city/ county bureaucracy that contributed to how we got here.

        • John Konop says:

          Baker,

          My instincts tell me the math does not work no matter who gets the project ie why would Cobb finance the deal with 30 year bonds on a stadium with a life cycle of 20 years if the math made sense? What would make sense is add a tax on ticket prices to pay for the stadium. If that projected revenue covers the project in less than 20 years you have a winner. And tax payers will not be left holding the bag on bonds going out farther than the stadium life cycle.

          • Baker says:

            You mean actually tax the user? That would be far too simple and fair. It would also make plain the amount of subsidy said users had previously and in other places gotten from other non-user taxpayers.

            If only we could’ve done it that way for the Falcons.

            • John Konop says:

              BTW it simple math…………

              2.4mm tickets sold at about 5 bucks each on average yields 12mm a year……over 20 years 240mm less interest they would pay on bonds…

              Obviously they would need between 5 to 10 bucks a ticket on average for a tax revenue based on projected attendance verse what Cobb agrees to put in with bond interest and cost.

            • John Konop says:

              BTW simple math…………

              2.4mm tickets sold at about 5 bucks each on average yields 12mm a year……over 20 years 240mm less interest they would pay on bonds…

              Obviously they would need between 5 to 10 bucks a ticket on average for a tax revenue based on projected attendance verse what Cobb agrees to put in with bond interest and cost.

        • atl_man says:

          I don’t think that it is messed up that the Braves are moving at all. They are chasing their ticket buyers. That will mean more money for Liberty Media, a more competitive team, higher attendance, more development for Cobb County etc. Who knows, some of that may even spill over into Atlanta and Fulton.

          And I do deny that the city/county bureaucracy contributed to anything. The Braves have been threatening to move to the suburbs FOR DECADES, since while they were still playing in the old Atlanta-Fulton County stadium. The Braves were practically GIVEN their current stadium on EXCELLENT terms to keep them in the city. What more could the city have done?

          The city did not have the resources to develop that area. They still don’t. They have other projects to meet the needs of and provide services to people and companies who actually want to live in the city … a huge infrastructure backlog, the Beltline, you name it. And no, they weren’t going to get a penny of help from the state. (Which by the way has already told Cobb that they won’t give them any money for this either.)

          Put it this way: it is going to take $300 million from Cobb to get the Braves on an empty patch of land. To make the Turner Field area hospitable for suburbanites, they would have had to spend hundreds of millions to relocate who knows how many existing homes and businesses before they actually built anything. And why? All to keep the Braves, who likely would have still left in 20 years anyway.

          I do not begrudge the Braves from leaving. I wish them well. Just don’t pretend as if the city and the county had the hundreds of millions of dollars necessary to keep them, or that they should have spent it on that purpose even if they had it.

      • Noway says:

        I said exactly what I meant, Atl. Tell me why the Braves were obligated to “develop” anything?
        Who’s job is it to make neighborhoods vital and thriving? Perhaps the people in those neighborhoods themselves?

      • Noway says:

        “You didn’t build that!”
        “We just need to spread the wealth around!”

        Both phrases uttered by Obama and Atl_man…

        • atl_man says:

          It is easier to argue with what you want me to be saying as opposed to what I actually said, right?

          What you want me to have said:

          “It is the responsibility of the billion dollar company Liberty Media to be a good corporate citizen and redevelop that area for the benefit of its residents and the city, even though doing so would provide no benefit at all to Liberty Media or its stockholders.”

          What I actually said REPEATEDLY (which means that you are a LIAR just like Liberty Media by the way):

          “This is a good move for the Braves even though it will hurt the city.”
          “I like the idea of redeveloping the Turner Field area for middle class housing as it will bring more residents and taxpayers into the city.”
          “The Braves are going where their fans are and where they can make more money, it is a good business decision and more power to them.”
          “If the city wanted to keep the Braves they should have attended more games.”
          “The city’s inhabitants are mostly either basketball/football fans or hipsters who aren’t into professional sports at all but biking/hiking.”

          And so on. I have never attacked the Braves/Liberty Media for leaving. Quite the contrary. I have only gone after A) the people who blame their leaving on the city/county when pro sports teams have been leaving for the suburbs – and in some cases outer suburbs and even other states – FOR DECADES and B) people who spent almost a year bashing/trashing/rooting for its failure the Falcons stadium deal while cheering this deal even though the Falcons stadium is A) a much more valuable property that will generate a lot more revenue and B) is coming with a much better deal to the taxpayer ($200 million out of $1.2 billion instead of $300 million out of $672 million). The ONLY REASON why the SAME PEOPLE who support this move but OPPOSE THE FALCONS STADIUM is because they don’t want to see new infrastructure downtown and in the city proper because they can’t stand who the residents of the city vote for. But people like that won’t come out and admit it, so they hide behind their little code words and phrases. You have Neal Boortz claiming that the Braves are moving because the area around Turner Field is unsafe when there has not been a single crime against a Braves fan attending a game EVER! When city crime rates are at their lowest in 40 years! That is why I said that I actually prefer to Stormfront people (so long as they are nonviolent of course) to people like that (and you).

  4. atl_man says:

    @Jon and MattMD:

    OK, so I was wrong about the specific Doraville site. But my point is still good: there were plenty of other sites that the city could have offered, and the Braves negotiated in secret because they didn’t want an offer from the city that would undermine their rationale for moving. Anything that the Braves are telling you right now is just spin to justify their move, and people are willing to buy it because it fits the preconceived notions that everyone has about “urban” areas and “urban” politicians anyway.

    No, the city wasn’t obligated to give the Braves whatever they wanted to keep them. (Plus, do you really believe that Liberty Media was going to pump half a billion dollars into the area around the stadium when they were able to get Cobb County to do it for them practically for free? Let me add beachfront property in the Mojave to that Tifton deal I was talking about earlier.) No, the city was never going to be able to outbid Cobb County, which has tons of money to throw at a sports team because they let Atlanta take on the burden of paying for the region’s vital infrastructure (i.e. Grady, Hartsfield, public transportation) for them, a fact that Reed pointed out when he said “welcome to the infrastructure burden” to Cobb.

    Even if the city had been able to outbid Cobb, the Braves would have gone there anyway in order to sell more tickets, and they were going to come up with some excuse where it was all the city’s fault to justify it. Do you actually expect a corporation to say “we are abandoning 47 years of tradition to make more money?” Or to admit “we need to maximize our revenue from ticket sales because we messed up by signing a bad TV deal, so now we need another revenue stream in order to generate enough money to sign the players that we need to be competitive like we were able to in the 1990s when Ted Turner had one of the highest payrolls and spent more money on their farm system in major league baseball”? Of course not. With corporations, it is ALWAYS going to be SOMEONE ELSE’S fault.

    The only reason why people are so likely to believe it instead of calling it what it is – a cash grab that will leave Cobb County taxpayers on the hook for 30 years and will provide far more financial benefit to Liberty Media than it will the Cumberland area because Liberty Media will own or control everything of value – is because the demographics of Atlanta/Fulton and its leadership makes people predisposed to believe that it is true. Case in point: the Braves were negotiating in secret with Cobb and Earl Ehrhart while PRETENDING to be pitching to Atlanta a maglev train to Turner Field. Why? A diversion tactic to hide their real intentions. That is duplicity, outright deception and lying, and people are blaming the city of Atlanta? http://www.wsbtv.com/news/news/local/maglev-train-ceo-still-hopes-mass-transit-system-b/nbxD8/
    Instead of giving the city of Atlanta an opportunity to compete with Cobb they were sending them on wild goose chases. But instead of admitting how slimy and dishonest corporate America was acting on this deal you just line up to heap trash on city government?

    And they didn’t just pull this snow job on Atlanta. A quote from the Maglev CEO: “We had spent significant amount of time with the Braves and the city, and we can’t say enough good things to say about the Braves or the city, and how well they had embraced this concept,” Morris said. But then the Braves announced they were moving to Cobb County. “It was a little bit sad, because we had invested so much time and effort in it,” Morris said. So they wasted the time and money of this company, who could have used it to develop other business contacts and work on other projects while knowing the whole time that they were negotiating to move with Cobb and never had any intentions of signing this deal. But is anyone going to talk about how sleazy Liberty Media was by doing stuff like this? Nope.

    But hey, blame the city of Atlanta and Fulton County. It is all their fault for rejecting Reagan-Bush neoconservatism. Had they only started electing conservative Republican mayors instead Maynard Jackson, Andrew Young, Bill Campbell (who admittedly was a louse), Shirley Franklin … or had they elected Mary Norwood (the woman who has nothing to show for her political career except getting elected) instead of Kasim Reed, the Braves would be happy and still downtown. That’s exactly what Liberty Media wants you to believe but it ain’t true. Even if you aren’t going to call Liberty Media out on their dishonesty and their tactics, please stop going along with their PR game by claiming that it is all the city’s fault.

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