By Maria Saporta
As soon as he found out about the Atlanta Braves’ plans to build a new stadium in Cobb County on Nov. 7, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed asked for a meeting with Gov. Nathan Deal.
The meeting between Reed, Deal and Mike Plant, executive vice president of business operations for the Atlanta Braves, occurred Wednesday morning — 48 hours after the baseball team made an official announcement.
It was going to build a $672 million stadium on a 60-acre tract in Cobb County near I-75 and I-285, and it would be part of a mixed-use development that would help bring the stadium area alive through-out the year and not just on game days.
If the mayor had hoped the meeting with the governor would change any one’s minds, he likely ended up being disappointed. The meeting in the governor’s office lasted 10 minutes — long enough for Plant to describe the baseball team’s plans for the new stadium and for Deal to say he would be staying out of it.
When asked how the meeting went with the governor on Wednesday morning, Plant responded in an email: “Went fine. Very cordial.”
In a follow-up email, Plant was asked if any minds were changed. He responded: “Still on track.”
The meeting with the governor came a day after a press conference that Reed held in his office to explain his position on why he was not fighting to keep the Braves in Turner Field.
Proclaiming a spirit of regionalism, Reed promised Tuesday morning not to meddle in Cobb County’s plans to finance and build a new stadium for the Atlanta Braves near I-75 and I-285.
But later in the press conference at City Hall, the mayor questioned whether Cobb County residents would support up to $450 million in public funding for the $672 million stadium deal. During the press conference, the $450 million figure was challenged.
“At the end of the day, the Braves were presented a very favorable deal by Cobb County,” said Reed, adding that the proposed facility would only be about 12 miles away from the current location. “Either we are going to be a region or we are not.”
That said, Reed admitted that “there are days like this that are really hard.”
The mayor did leave the door open about the possibility that the Cobb deal could fall through and that the Braves could negotiate a new lease at Turner Field.
“They have got a public process to go through,” Reed said. “I’m not going to meddle. Let it play out. The bottom line is I still want the Braves in Atlanta.”