MARIETTA, Ga. - Cobb County commissioners have approved a deal to build a new $672 million stadium for the Atlanta Braves.
The deal called for hundreds of millions of dollars in public funds to help pay for the stadium and entertainment complex.
“This is a significant day in the history of this franchise,” said Atlanta Braves President John Schuerholz. “We are grateful to the citizens of Cobb County and the leadership in the community who have worked tirelessly to bring this to fruition. I truly believe that this partnership will yield what will become one of the finest baseball and entertainment facilities in the country.”
During the County Commissioners meeting Monday, residents on both sides pleaded their case for and against the proposed stadium.
During the one hour public comment, Cobb Chamber of Commerce head Ben Mathis praised the deal and said it could transform the area.
“This is exactly the kind of development that should be a public private partnership because we all benefit from it,” he said.
But resident Kevin Daniels criticized the plan and how quickly it has passed from announcement to a vote.
“I’ve been really disappointed in the veil of secrecy and the rush… to approve this deal,” he said. “It’s not characteristic of the government I’ve grown accustomed to having in Cobb County, that I grew up with.”
Andrew Windham, who spoke in favor of the deal on behalf of the Cobb Young Professionals, said they “understand the epic and life-changing impact this opportunity avails not only to us and our community but future generations” as he called for its passage.
But Amy Barnes, a Cobb County activist who came to Tuesday’s meeting with a sign that read “Billionaire Care is the next Obamacare” asked commissioners to vote against the deal.
“This is nothing but a back door SPLOST,” she said, adding the development would also invite crime.
The Cobb Marietta Coliseum and Exhibit Hall Authority, the entity that will issue the bonds and control the stadium, voted to accept the agreement on Monday.
The 30-year agreement calls for a mix of reallocating existing property tax revenue and implementing new taxes on business and tourism in the area.
Commissioners have been holding town hall meetings to gather feedback on the proposal. A group called Cobb Citizens for Governmental Transparency called on the commission to postpone its vote for 60 days to give residents a chance to learn more.
Shortly after the vote, some Fulton County leaders sent out a statement saying:
"Ever since our county received the disappointing news that the Atlanta Braves plan to move out of Fulton County at the conclusion of the 2016 season, Fulton County Commissioners and Atlanta City Council members have expressed a desire to keep the team here in Atlanta.
"Tonight’s vote by commissioners in Cobb County agreeing to move ahead with efforts to bring the team there are certainly a disappointment , but political and economic leaders in Fulton County still believe the Braves could and should have a viable future in Atlanta. We understand the team’s concerns about economic development in the area surrounding Turner Field.
"We believe there are still solutions civic and business leaders could pursue in conjunction with the ball club to keep the team as a thriving part of our community. We hope to have a dialogue with the team to make that case. The Atlanta Braves are a proud symbol of a great city and we still hope to keep them in Atlanta"
Channel 2’s Rachel Stockman will have reaction on tonight’s vote on the Channel 2 Action News Nightbeat at 11 p.m.