Cobb Chairman Lee: Braves Will Add $200M Over 10 Years To County Coffers
For Cobb County Commission chairman Tim Lee, his push to bring the Atlanta Braves to Cobb County has led his own political life into extra innings. But despite the numerous controversies surrounding the commission and the Braves' SunTrust Park project, Tim says the “halo effect” of the Braves will have a massive economic impact in the county—to the tune of more than $1B in just the next three years. It's something he plans to detail at our 2016 Cumberland Expansion event next month.
Tim says the Atlanta Braves and all the developers working on the project are “pumping $1.2B into our economy over the course of three years.” But looking out long term at added hotel, sales and property tax revenues, Tim says the county projects SunTrust Park will add $200M over the next decade to the county coffers. “We do know that our revenues are growing faster than we anticipated,” he says. And the Braves move certainly hasn't hampered economic development: "Even Aaron Rents moved out of Buckhead and came to the Cumberland area," Tim says.
Still, after the glamour of announcing the Braves stadium move to Cobb wore off, details of the backroom negotiations between Braves' owners Liberty Media and Cobb County, coupled with ire over what critics say is a short-sighted plan to handle what may be a traffic nightmare in an already heavily congested area on game days, has had its political cost for Tim. In May, he barely eked by with little more than 40% of the county vote. Upstart anti-establishment candidate Mike Boyce—who rose to prominence largely upon the tide of anger over the Braves deal—earned just under 50%, forcing Tim into a runoff on July 26.
Despite the fallout, Tim says he would have done nothing different in negotiating with the Braves organization, and the county simply followed the procedure of economic development other counties use when attempting to lure big wins: secrecy. Besides, a referendum to approve a deal would have taken too long for the Braves to push out the development in time for the opening game against the San Diego Padres on April 13, 2017. “The other alternative was to say no and watch the Braves go elsewhere in the metro area,” he says.
Hear more from Chairman Lee during our 2016 Cumberland Expansion event 7:30am, July 20, at the Cobb Galleria Convention Center along with Atlanta Braves president Mike Plant, Cumberland CID executive director Malaika Rivers (here) and Cobb Travel & Tourism CEO Holly Quinlan. Register here.
Editor's Note: A previous version of this story incorrectly reported the Braves' budget impact over 10 years as $200B. The correct amount is $200M. Bisnow regrets the error.