Braves say there’s no agreement on Aaron statue, but Bottoms releases emails saying otherwise

By Maria Saporta

The plot thickens.

After Keisha Lance Bottoms announced that the iconic Hank Aaron Statue would be staying in Atlanta based on a agreement she had reached with the Atlanta Braves, a spokeswoman for the baseball teams said that wasn’t true.

“We were surprised by the release from Keisha Lance Bottoms as we do not have an agreement regarding the Hank Aaron statue,” wrote Beth Marshall, a spokeswoman for the Atlanta Braves.

Hank Aaron statue

Hank Aaron statue (Photos by Maria Saporta)swoman for the Atlanta Braves, in a statement that she emailed.

“We believe the statue should be located wherever Hank Aaron would like it to go and we have stated this position to Ms. Bottoms,” Marshall continued. “The Braves organization is committed to respecting his wishes and we are hopeful that Ms. Bottoms has this same position. We are in discussions with Hank, and once he makes his intentions clear to us, we will make the appropriate arrangements. Regardless, we will honor Hank and his legacy with the Braves in a significant way at SunTrust Park. Hank is and will always be a treasure to us and our community.”

When contacted about the Braves statement, Bottoms sent over several emails she recently exchanged with Mike Plant, the executive vice president of business operations for the Braves.

Bottoms not only told the Braves she would be announcing that they had reached an agreement regarding the Hank Aaron Statue, she asked if they wanted to provide a quote for the release.

Here is a copy of that email exchange (email addresses have been deleted):

On Feb 5, 2016, at 11:58 AM, Keisha Bottoms wrote:

Hi Mike,
I have received an inquiry from a reporter on the Hank Aaron statue, and I will share that we have come to an agreement. I think this is an opportunity for us to highlight the spirit of cooperation we have as we navigate this transition. If you’re interested in providing a quote for a press release, let me know.
Best,
Keisha

From: “Plant, Mike”
Date: February 7, 2016 at 12:35:05 PM EST
To: Keisha Bottoms
Cc: “Perestuk, Eric”
Subject: Re: Hank Aaron Statue

Keisha.  We won’t be making any additional comments on this subject.  Thanks for letting me know. Mike 
Mike Plant 

Bottoms also let Plant know that Henry Aaron’s wife, Billye Aaron, was “very happy” the statue would be staying in Atlanta.

Here is that email exchange:

From: Keisha Bottoms
Date: February 3, 2016 at 3:52:26 PM EST
To: “Plant, Mike”
Cc: “Perestuk, Eric”
Subject: Re: Meeting and Next Steps

Hi Mike,
As fate would have it, I saw Mrs. Aaron at a luncheon this afternoon and was able to speak with her about the statue. I told her that we had a very good meeting this morning, and if they are in agreement, the statue will remain. She is was very happy and said that they are in full support of that agreement. 
Best,
Keisha

On Feb 3, 2016, at 11:53 AM, Plant, Mike wrote:
Thanks for this info.  I will get our team together to review and respond.  
Mike Plant

Bottoms also released a copy of the agreement between the Braves, the Metropolitan Atlanta Olympic Games Authority and the Recreation Authority that states the the property around the stadium will belong to the Authority. That would include the statue.

MAOGA agreement

A page from the MAOGA agreement showing that Bottoms used as evidence that property around the Olympic Stadium would be owned by the Recreation Authority

Note to readers: In an attempt to get their perspective first-hand, I have called and left messages for both Hank and Billye Aaron. Once there is a comment from them, I will update this story. Maria 

Maria Saporta, Editor, is a longtime Atlanta business, civic and urban affairs journalist with a deep knowledge of our city, our region and state.  Since 2008, she has written a weekly column and news stories for the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Prior to that, she spent 27 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, becoming its business columnist in 1991. Maria received her Master’s degree in urban studies from Georgia State and her Bachelor’s degree in journalism from Boston University. Maria was born in Atlanta to European parents and has two young adult children.

7 replies
  1. PSW says:

    I think the best way to make sure that those in the city of Atlanta who never did diddly for you don’t get things that should be yours is to not ever allow it to be in Atlanta to start with. I doubt the folks who donated money for that statue did it for any other reason than to have it at a Braves ballpark–not to be a City of Atlanta monument, divorced from an active stadium.

    My guess is the Aaron statue is the only sort of thing the AFCRA ever cared about vis a vis the Braves, and not because of strictly baseball, either. Something manifested in spirit before the move, in fact afterword. Which is why the Braves are going up to Cobb to start with.Report

    Reply

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