No minds are changed in Braves stadium meeting with Gov. Deal

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.”

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.

3 replies
  1. John Hutcheson says:

    It is discouraging that Mayor Reed apparently doesn’t understand the politics of the region. The point is that the Braves know that the state will not support reinvestment in the city unless there is a trade-off of reinvestment in the Northern suburbs. The Braves know full well that the Northern suburbs are the governor’s power base and they will have a lot better chance of getting state funds for infrastructure to support their investment. Ultimately, Cobb County residents will pay little of the costs; we as taxpayers in Georgia will pay and assume the risk. The Braves will just move further out in twenty years if the state doesn’t develop the transportation infrastructure required at that sight. Wouldn’t it have been a lot more efficient to just invest in the infrastructure (rail system) in the state capital? Just not politically acceptable to the governor’s suburban constituency.Report

  2. JayTreadwell says:

    So why is it that when the “region” was trying to pass the T-SPLOST, Cobb Co was considered part of the “region” for the purposes of collecting tax revenues, but now suddenly when a prominent business wants to move within that same “region” to Cobb Co it is no longer good for the “region”?Report

  3. John Hutcheson says:

    Hi Jay  — I like communicating with folks who actually use their name. I was not a great fan of T-SPLOST — It was an ill-conceived patch-work of political compromises that had little to do with regionalism. Far too much pork. However, what it did represent was an attempt to entice some regional support for a few regional projects that, because of the political environment, had no way of being addressed otherwise. Being much older (and more impatient) than most of our political representatives, I’d rather address things less politically and call things what they are. I’ve lived in the City of Atlanta since 1946 (with a few years away in school and in the Army). Cobb county was just one of those farming communities that many of my neighbors fled to in the 1960 and 70s. In all my years living in Atlanta, I have never had a need to go anywhere in Cobb County — other than to drive to TN on a federally-funded highway (which my taxes helped pay for.) On the other hand, from the Tech logo, I suspect that you have had occasion to come to Atlanta quite a bit (or are you not a fan of the ‘Owls’?). (Maria, I hope that’s not too personal.) My property taxes are quite substantial and, contrary to what some seem to think, I am quite impressed with the efficiency of public services in the City (at least in the neighborhood that I live in). I would hope we could continue to keep the police on patrol, the streets clean and the potholes filled, even for all the cars in the parking lots along Cheshire Bridge and Piedmont where the majority appear to have Cobb and Gwinnett plates. Enjoy, but don’t keep asking for us to pay. I don’t mind so much, but the people who walk to the Ted to work to serve you are really getting tired of being screwed.
    John HutchesonReport


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