Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed will address the media Tuesday morning to discuss the Atlanta Braves impending move out of downtown Atlanta. The news conference, which will be held at City Hall at 10:30 a.m. will be the first chance for reporters to hear his take on the behind-the-scenes negotiations that led the franchise to move up I-75 to Cobb County.
The invitation came Monday afternoon, after the mayor’s initial response to the move yielded more questions than answers.
“The Atlanta Braves are one of the best baseball teams in America, and I wish them well,” Reed said in a statement. “We have been working very hard with the Braves for a long time, and at the end of the day, there was simply no way the team was going to stay in downtown Atlanta without city taxpayers spending hundreds of millions of dollars to make that happen. It is my understanding that our neighbor, Cobb County, made a strong offer of of [sic] $450M in public support to the Braves and we are simply unwilling to match that with taxpayer dollars. Given the needs facing our city and the impact of Turner Field stadium on surrounding neighborhoods, that was something I, and many others were unwilling to do. We have been planning for the possibility of this announcement and have already spoken to multiple organizations who are interested in redeveloping the entire Turner Field corridor. Over the next three years, we will be working with our prospective partners to bring residential and business development that is worthy of our city and strengthens our downtown. Those conversations will continue and I am excited about how we use the land that is now Turner Field, to be a tremendous asset for our residents, our city, and our region for years to come.”
Cobb County has not yet announced how they plan to pay the $450 million Reed suggested was offered. Reaction so far has been very negative, but public sentiment has largely blamed the Braves for the move rather than the city.
“Turner Field, which will be only 20 years old at the time of the move, is in excellent condition and a central location to the City of Atlanta. Abandoning the Ted is a willfully wrong-headed decision that will result in an eyesore for the city as well as insult and injury to all Atlanta area fans. Join me in telling Braves ownership that this move is unacceptable. Keep the Braves at Turner field and do right by Atlanta’s fans. Signing this petition will send a message to Braves leadership, and we may still be able to undo this disastrous plan which will have far reaching consequences for the Atlanta metro area.”
So far more than 1,100 people have joined her.
Reed has also suggested that the move to Cobb County is not yet a done deal. The financial package will not go before the Cobb County Commission until Nov. 26, according to Reed, and that could mean a chance that the Braves stay put. But what would Reed be willing to offer? Cobb Commission Chair Tim Lee has said he will not detail the plan for public financing until the commission meets on Nov. 26.
The City of Atlanta has already committed at least $200 million of the city’s hotel/motel tax revenue to the Atlanta Falcons over the next 30 years, a number that could balloon to nearly $900 million.
Through principal and interest payments, the hotel/motel tax could be as much as $450 million over 30 years and, according to projections cited by the AJC, another $450 million could go to the stadium during that time for operations and expenses through a “waterfall” fund.
Reporters will also be expecting Reed to unveil potential partners for the space that Turner Field currently occupied.