The Cobb County Commission officially welcomed the Atlanta Braves to the suburbs on Tuesday night as they approved a new stadium for the team. The five member commission voted 4-1 to enter into a 30-year memorandum of understanding with the Braves.
“The Atlanta Braves is a world class organization,” said Commission Chairman Tim Lee, who thanked the Braves for bringing the stadium to Cobb, calling the move a “wonderful economic opportunity” and a “boost in the arm to Cobb County.”
“We welcome you to Cobb County,” Lee added.
The MOU is a legally-binding document that calls for the city to roll in a new $672 million Braves stadium that will be paid for, at least in part, by public dollars. Cobb County taxpayers would be on the hook to pay $300 million, but have said the money will come from a mix of reallocating existing property tax revenue and implementing new taxes on business and tourism in the area.
Commissioners noted the jobs and economic impact that the new stadium will bring. They said Cobb would not make the mistakes that other cities have with stadium projects.
“I’m looking for the next great thing for Cobb County and I truly believe this is what I’ve been looking for for six years,” said Commissioner Helen Goreham.
Commissioner Lisa Cupid, who had expressed concerns about the stadium, was the sole dissenting vote.
“I cannot with good conscience vote for the MOU but I do support the Braves being in Cobb County,” Cupid said. “This could have been a win-win for so many more people. I just have a very difficult time reasoning through the rush.”
“If you’d wanted a 5-0 vote you could’ve gotten it,” Cupid said, adding that she wouldn’t be bullied.
Speaking at a press conference after the vote, Braves President John Schuerholz said, “This is a most significant and historic day for our franchise… We are thrilled with how this turned out.”
The Braves first announced the stadium deal on Nov. 11 through the creation of a website, HomeoftheBraves.com. Since then, mounting public pressure from conservative activists, politicians and the Atlanta City Council have cast some doubt on the move. But Tuesday’s decision looks to cement the new stadium, which will be located near I-75 and I-285.
“This gold standard franchise is joining with this gold standard county,” said Schuerholz.
Mike Plant, the Braves’ executive vice president of business operations, left no doubt about the Braves plans following the vote, saying, “It is a legally-binding document. We are coming to Cobb County.”