The Atlanta Braves are the worst team in baseball. But when it comes to swindling taxpayers out of their hard-earned cash to pay for new ballparks, they are among the league leaders, or so says a recent report.
Last week, a Bloomberg story published an explosive story called “The Braves Play Taxpayers Better Than They Play Baseball. The story accuses the Braves have over the last 15 years “extracted nearly half a billion in public funds for four new homes, each bigger and more expensive than the last,” says Bloomberg.
The story says “better than they play baseball” because the Braves are arguably the worst team in baseball over the past two years with no end in sight to the misery on the baseball diamond.
The biggest asset in the Braves portfolio of ballparks is the $722 “crown jewel” SunTrust Park backed by $392 million in taxpayers funds.
In the Bloomberg story, it says before the new stadium in Cobb County, the Braves built three minor league parks. The team worked its way up the ladder from Single A to Triple A – and in every case the Braves showered attention on local officials unaccustomed to dealing with a big-league franchise and, in the end, left most of the cost on the public ledger, Bloomberg says.
When cities build ballparks the same thing keeps happening — teams keep most of the money spent by fans, and the share that cities rarely can keep their head above water, much less turn a profit to benefit the community, Bloomberg reports.
The subtitle of the story reads, “Small towns across the South are paying the bills for Atlanta’s farm system.”
Meanwhile, the Braves are rotting like a decomposing corpse at the bottom of the baseball stratum with a 7-20 record, the worst in the Major Leagues.
In the story, Bloomberg quotes Joel Maxcy, a sports economist at Drexel University, who said, “If there’s one thing the Braves know how to do, it’s how to get money out of taxpayers.”
Mike Plant refutes the report. The Braves president of development, told Bloomberg the “so-called sports economists” have gotten it all backwards.
Plant said the Braves attract development and employ a lot of people.
To read the report in full, click here.