Cobb commissioners approve new Braves stadium deal



Cobb County Commissioners voted unanimously, 5-0, on the operating agreement that will allow the county to borrow up to $396 million to build the Atlanta Braves a new stadium scheduled to open in 2017.

Commissioners also approved several other aspects of the deal that will keep the Braves in the new stadium for 30 years, including a contract with American Builders 2017 to manage construction. 

Public comment tonight was dominated by stadium supporters, angering those who showed up at tonight’s meeting to protest aspects of the deal but were not granted a chance to speak. Only 12 people were allowed to address commissioners, and they were selected on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Ben Williams of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference was escorted out of the meeting after sparks flew when he was not one of the 12 people allowed to speak. He said he is not against the new stadium, but he has questions about the commissioners' transparency throughout the process.

Commissioner Lisa Cupid said she also has transparency concerns.

"My hope is that as we move forward that we will do our best to make sure the public has better access to materials that we vote on.

Supporter Mark Morgan said he got in line at 2 p.m. to secure a slot to speak at the 7 p.m. meeting.

"Cobb County is one of the dew counties that is Triple A rated financially. And that's over the past 20 years that we've been that strong, so the commissioners aren't going to risk that," Morgan said.

Tuesday night's vote culminates months of negotiations between county and team officials, which followed commission approval of a preliminary agreement in November.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution contributed to this report.

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