Home / Robert Farley / Have Fun Paying Off that $450 Million

Have Fun Paying Off that $450 Million

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Turner Field is 17 years old:

The Atlanta Braves announced Monday they will leave Turner Field for a new 42,000-seat, $672 million stadium about 10 miles from downtown Atlanta in 2017. It’s not clear how much the proposed ballpark will cost taxpayers.

Braves executives John Schuerholz, Mike Plant and Derek Schiller said the team decided not to seek another lease at 17-year-old Turner Field and began talks with the Cobb Marietta Coliseum and Exhibit Hall Authority in July.

Looks like $450 million in public funds:

(Although Schiller initially declined to say how much the county would be paying, this story says that Cobb County will be on the hook for $450 million, with the Braves paying roughly $200 million.)

In case you’re wondering, Cobb County falls mostly in Newt Gingrich’s old district, which consists of people who hate big government except when it transfers extraordinary amounts of money to incredibly wealthy people. I wonder how they’ll manage to shift the burden from the county to the state and federal government; I don’t doubt that the effort will involve some altogether ingenious accounting, combined with a concerted effort to screw over the poor.

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  • “This stadium is still to accessible by our already minimal public transport system. Thank god this is Atlanta and we have our choice of grim exurban wastelands.”

  • Linnaeus

    Funny how the team cites inadequate mass transit. I thought mass transit was some socialist scheme because freedom.

    • David Hunt

      Public works in other people’s districts are socialism. Public works in their district is government doing its job, because they’ve earned every penny that the government spends to their benefit. It’s everyone else that are grubby moochers stealing their hard won and grudgingly paid tax dollars.
      /GOP

    • If you cite “inadequate mass transit,” you have two choices:

      1) Put up and announce you will move to a place on the (extended) subway line, in which case people might believe you[the NFL’s Jets, or Jersey/B, to borrow Gregg Easterbrook’s only positive contribution to public discourse], or

      2) move to a place with no public transportation at all, in which case people will know you’re lying [MLB’s Braves to Cobb County].

      Braves management couldn’t even be bothered to lie.

      • Potomac Drainage Basin Indigenous Persons was a positive contribution.

        • Big Al

          And I sort of liked the “cold coach = victory” thing – varsity jackets vs. K2 survival gear.

    • efgoldman

      Funny how the team cites inadequate mass transit. I thought mass transit was some socialist scheme because freedom.

      When the Braves were still in Boston, the T (then MTA) built a loop off of Commonwealth Avenue at Braves Field (now BU’s Nickerson Field) so the could move trolleys and have them waiting for the end-of-game, usually late afternoon, crowd. The tracks were still there when I was at BU (’63-’68). Plenty accessible. They left anyway.

      • efgoldman

        Meant to add: I have no idea who paid for the loop, or whether the Braves compensated the T in any way for overtime, etc. But I expect the city did it, and it cost the Braves a few box seats during the season for the right pols.

  • Anon21

    I have seen conflicting reports about whether the $450 million is government money or private financing “arranged” by the county. If the latter, I have seen nothing whatsoever about what these benevolent investors would be buying for their money, further muddling the situation.

    Basically, it looks like this might be 1) a tactic meant to strong-arm the city of Atlanta into doing… something to keep the Braves at Turner Field, whether that be investing money to revitalize the area around the stadium or somehow convincing asshole Republicans in state government to consider allowing a rail link to the park, or 2) an incomplete plan that was rushed out today because a reporter got wind of the project and secrecy couldn’t be maintained.

    • Lefty68

      The Atlanta Braves have secured property to build a world-­class Major League Baseball stadium and integrated mixed-­use development on 60 acres at the northwest intersection of I-­75 and I-­285.

      I suspect that the Braves are doing this in order to get into the real estate development business. Kasim Reed has already said that the city couldn’t pay what the Braves were demanding to stay downtown, and good for him, although it didn’t help matters to shell out gobs of cash for a new Falcons stadium.

      • They probably also want to shrink the stadium. The trend in baseball is way too small baseball stadiums so ticket prices can be jacked up.

        • Big Al

          This is clearly part of the deal. Today you can sit in the first row of the upper deck just beyond the first and third bags (good seats, actually) for $15. There won’t be any seats in the new park for that price.

      • Tybalt

        Similarly, I would assume the Braves will just tell Cobb county that their stadium is for football too. After all, FOOTBALL!!!!

      • Bufflars

        Isn’t 60 acres awfully small for a stadium, parking lots and mixed use development land?

  • JMG

    Cobb County has consistently voted against expansion of the MARTA system into the county and for that matter, against a program to finance highway construction. Good luck making those 7:05 night game starts, Braves fans!!

    • MAJeff

      I wonder why Cobb County would vote against Moving AfricanAmericans Rapidly Through Atlanta.

      • ChrisTS

        :-) Back in the late 70’s and early 80’s Cobb Countians were very, very clear about their reasons from preventing the MARTA expansion: blacks might come out to CC!!!!

        • Marek

          My understanding is, that’s why there’s no Georgetown Metro stop in D.C., too. Despite what you see at the movies.

          • TribalistMeathead

            There is no Georgetown Metro stop because a) there was no way to build one on the current alignment (which is basically under the Potomac by the time you get to Georgetown from downtown) and b) the Metro was designed to move people into the city from the suburbs (as opposed to around the city), and Georgetown was neither a population center nor a commercial center when the Metro was built.

            • Urban Garlic

              True, and well-covered in Schrag’s “The Great Society Subway”. The real story is slightly more ironic, there was an early plan to include Georgetown, but to avoid tunneling under the river at that point, a combined highway-train bridge was proposed, but was nixed by the highway department. As the system design matured, Georgetown was never seriously contemplated again, principally because it didn’t have all that many commuters, as mentioned above.

              Pardon my slight off-topicness. Page 155 of Schrag, for those who like citations.

              • Rigby Reardon

                Sometimes the digressions are the most interesting parts of a thread.

          • Mudge

            The Metro doesn’t actually go through Georgetown. The main east west line (blue/orange) goes south of Georgetown. The red line is east of Georgetown. You can argue that a full Metro line was not built to Georgetown for that reason, it’s not simply eliminating a stop. But buses run there. It is far more accessible than Cobb County.

  • anthrofred

    “In exchange for your reduced WIC benefits, please enjoy this voucher for a complimentary hot dog”

    • Conservative POV:
      HELL NO!!!
      No complimentary hotdog!

      After paying the full amount, give them a voucher for one free condiment packet.

      • wjts

        No. After agreeing to clean stadium restrooms for four hours, patrons will be compensated with one condiment packet.

        • Breadbaker

          One used condiment packet.

    • wengler

      Reduced price hot dog. There are no free lunches in Coke Presents Cobb County Taxpayers’ Stadium.

      • Absent a uniform redesign, it’s probably impossible to actually increase the level of Coke branding.

        • Warren Terra

          That’s Pepsi talk.

    • Warren Terra

      Some term and restrictions apply:
      1) Free hotdog with possession of ticket bought at full price
      2) Limit one to a ticketholder, per year
      3) Must purchase another hotdog of equal or greater value. And a soda.
      4) No condiments.
      5) Well, maybe some ketchup.

  • Joshua

    This is crazy. The stadium was built for the Olympics and is one of the very few success stories of post-Olympics facilities.

    I get the 1990’s construction boom, the stadiums being replaced were ugly, decrepit designs from the 50’s and 60’s. But now we are talking about replacing those? What are they going to do, hire Populous to make the same stadium a few exists down the highway? Madness.

    • wengler

      It will be an end to one of the few smooth line outfield fences left too. I’m sure Cobb County field will look more like some demented hoarders backyard like Houston’s.

    • Warren Terra

      Haven’t you been paying attention? Whatever the claims made when seeking approval for a new stadium, it’s now common to start pushing for a new (publicly funded, eminent-domain-powered) stadium about ten years after the current one opened – and practically de rigeur by fifteen years. If the ground was broken for the current stadium while any of the players were alive, it’s practically grounds for the franchise to move.

      • efgoldman

        If the ground was broken for the current stadium while any of the players were alive, it’s practically grounds for the franchise to move.

        Then there’s the lyrical little bandbox of a ballpark, which I would trade for Turner field in a heartbeat. 101 years old and the most overpriced tickets (well, maybe except for box seats at the new “Yankee Stadium”) in the game.

    • Actually, from a public policy standpoint, cookie cutter stadiums were fine. They could be used 200 days a year.

  • Bobby Flashpants

    The entire effort is an attempt to screw over the poor. The demographics in Cobb have been shifting away from the Gingrichites noticeably, and this is an excuse to not spend any money on “those people” and give it to cronies. It also serves as an excuse to not spend any further money on anything south of I-20 in the city. I worked in the area that the team is moving to from 2005 until a few weeks ago, and traffic and transportation is going to be absolutely nightmarish unless significant upgrades are made – and not the kind that will realistically be complete by 2017.
    My guess is that this is a way for the county to scam federal money to pay for the infrastructure upgrades that voters rejected last year (as an extra sales tax).
    The Nathan Deal governorship has been a stunning display of crony capitalism. I live down in Kia country now- all the $8/hour rotating shift work that can kill you that you could ever want.

  • Tracy Lightcap

    I live not far from the site.

    What’s happening here is an attempt to get something out of the real estate now occupied by one of the biggest dogs in the whole infamous history of Atlanta real estate development, the Cobb Galleria. That place has been sucking wind since the day it opened. Even opening Cumberland Mall next store (also not a star project) didn’t help. So I’m guessing that real estate will be easy to come by and that the owners of the Galleria will put up a lot of the cash needed.

    Oth, the traffic problems will be HORRENDOUS. The backups now for the I-75/I-285 transitions are bad enough. Moving 42K extra fans and their cars into the same bottleneck will make going to Braves games the literal equivalent of the Fifth Circle of Hell.

    Except for me, of course! I could park and walk after a 5 minute drive, so I’ll go to a lot more games! Cool!

    • TribalistMeathead

      I could park and walk after a 5 minute drive

      This is going to become a double-edged sword, just FYI.

      • cackalacka

        As someone familiar with 75/285 from 15 years ago, and who has spent 12 years commuting past another southern city’s exurban sportsplex, I have to say, good luck with that park and walk and that 5 min drive.

        This ain’t no double-edged sword, this is a dagger for anyone who works for a living in Gingrichberg points east.

  • Sam240

    If destroyed, Turner Field would be only the second main Summer Olympic stadium to be demolished. The first was London’s White City Stadium, destroyed in 1984 after being used for the 1908 games. (Several other stadia have been heavily remodeled, including Turner Field itself.)

    Djurgarden moved out of their former Olympic Stadium home earlier this year. To be fair, the field was over 100 years old, and the capacity of 13,500 was half the size of their new home. Washington University is still using 1904’s Olympic Stadium, albeit with reduced capacity.

    A 20-year-old Olympic stadium should be good enough for the Atlanta baseball club.

    • Mudge

      Let’s assume then that there are other unspoken reasons.

  • D.N. Nation

    I live near Turner Field. Public transit is lousy, but it exists.

    Know where it doesn’t exist? Where they’re moving the stadium.

    Though I’m happy it’s the tea party exurbanites who are footing the bill for this boondoggle and not me. If this *finally* brings MARTA to Kobb Kounty, then perhaps it’s good for the region after all. But that’d (I’m assuming) all depend on Kobb Kounty voters approving anything having to do with mass transit, and I’ll believe that when I see it.

    • Rigby Reardon

      Though I’m happy it’s the tea party exurbanites who are footing the bill for this boondoggle and not me.

      I’d wait and see before getting too happy about this. There are always ways to shift that burden around without too many people noticing.

  • Atlanta,
    Boston, with Fenway Park, and Chicago, with Wrigley Field, are mocking you!

    And if given an a choice of going to a game at your new ballpark, or either one of those, I don’t think there’s a real baseball fan alive who’d choose to go to your brand-spanking new facility, no matter how nice it turns out.

    So, now, 21 years will be the new expected lifespan of sports facilities?
    Jayzoos!!!

    Personally, I don’t give a shit if the OWNERS were the ones paying the freight!
    Go and build one every 5 years, for all I care.

    But don’t expect the public to pay for your upgrades, or new facilities, every few decades!
    ENOUGH!!!!!

    • Anon21

      Fenway Park was a pretty terrible venue until the renovations of late ’90s and early ’00s. It’s not that you can’t extend the usable life of a stadium by a great deal if you’re willing to pour money into it, it’s just that that may not always be the most cost-effective way of operating. Who knows if it was in Boston, where sentiment was very much against any fundamental restructuring of Fenway.

      • You do know there was serious talk about building a “new” Fenway in the 90’s, right? They had architecture drawings and all done up. I remember seeing it on NESN at the time. And here we are almost 20 years later with Fenway still standing.

        • Anon21

          Yes, and part of the reason why it failed was that “sentiment was very much against any fundamental restructuring of Fenway.” Thus, the owners settled for renovations, which have upgraded Fenway from “dump” to “okay baseball park.”

          Fenway and Wrigley are not really good exemplars of this weird “Never replace a stadium!” mindset. Both are kinda-sorta passable venues (less so in Wrigley’s case) that are among the worst places to watch major-league baseball.

          • presumably the people who go to both venues and enjoy the games at enormous rates are just plain idiots and don’t know better.

            • Anon21

              No, they’re just going to what’s available. I have nothing against the fans, but the venues are sorely lacking in comparison to modern facilities. As I said, it’s ridiculous to use them as examples of why it’s a good idea to keep stadiums for 30+ years.

              • actually, they are precisely the argument: without historicity, there would be no reason to maintain older stadiums (well, ok, putting aside environmental concerns, in that by and large, tearing down and replacing is more energy-intensive than rehabbing in place).

                my point is that unless you want to think that tens of thousands of people are complete idiots, attending games in hateful conditions because they’ve either been brainwashed or are desperate to see baseball live, fans love going to these parks because of their connections to history: when you walk into fenway, you see the same left field that williams, yaz, and rice patrolled, and that is part of the experience.

                you see the same old-fashioned scoreboard that my 1960s vintage little league park equalled and that is part of the experience.

                the argument for a new stadium is almost always and entirely about revenue: that revenue may have a direct correlation with improved creature comforts, but they aren’t a condition precedent to enjoying a game.

                • From a public policy standpoint, what you want is multipurpose stadiums. Fenway is terrible for fans, because it is so small that tickets are exorbitant.

                • Rigby Reardon

                  Of course, the multipurpose stadium experience is not how fans want to watch baseball now. So yeah, having one single stadium for multiple teams works fine from a policy perspective, but if part of your goal is to have a stadium that people actually want to go to – because the actual experience of going to a game (i.e., what they are paying for) is better – then maybe it’s not as clear-cut as you’re arguing.

          • Richard Hershberger

            Benefits of modern stadia, if designed properly:

            Reasonably comfortable seating.
            Seats facing in the correct direction.
            Seats without pillars blocking the view.
            Cup holders! Whoever first put those in should be in the Hall of Fame!
            Adequate concession stands. I remember when it was assumed that getting up to buy snacks meant missing at least one whole inning. Why anyone though making it difficult for people to hand you their money is a dark mystery.
            Adequate bathrooms. With real urinals, not troughs.
            Passageways adequate to handle the volume of traffic.

            I could go on. Most of these changes came out of the Camden Yards revolution of the 1990s. Any place older than that you visit for the history, not for the objection game day experience.

            • everything you say is true.

              but i’ve easily been at fenway a couple hundred times: i love watching ball games at fenway. (i’ve only been at wrigley thrice, but they were all great ball game watching experiences too).

              there’s no doubt that modern stadiums are more likely than not to have great site lines, customer comforts, etc., but that’s only part of the equation, and as an actual place to watch a ball game, they’re both great.

              p.s. let me note that i’ve been at 28 major league ballparks, and i have absolutely nothing against modern stadiums.

            • efgoldman

              Benefits of modern stadia, if designed properly:

              I grew up going to Fenway (lived in Brookline, went to BU). In the 80s my folks retired and went to Orange County, CA. One time when we visited, the Sox happened to be playing the Angels, so we went. Comfy seats. Great sight lines. Tix 2/3 the price of worse seats at Fenway. Bathrooms every other ramp! A cornucopia of refreshments and souvies every part of the concourse. Hard liquor! (I would not suggest that for Fenway)….

              • i’ve seen the angels play a half dozen times, including a couple with excellent seats (right over near scott boras). under no circumstances do i regard that as a better baseball experience than fenway.

                • Of course it is! Your position is like pretending a stagecoach is better than an airplane.

                • Rigby Reardon

                  And it would be an even better experience if you were watching it in an 80,000-seat concrete doughnut designed to accommodate a football team, I suppose.

                • dilan, not really. if you want to try a valid comparison, you might say that it’s like a walkman vs. an ipod or something.

                  although i personally would compare it to the difference between a 100-year-old home with character and a toll brothers all mod cons mcmansion.

              • Nathan of Perth

                I can identify so much with this; the process of trying to sort out a replacement for the local major stadium has been going on for well over a decade.

                Subiaco Oval has a lot of history, but when you actually go to someplace like the Melbourne Cricket Ground you quickly realise that vast differences between a modern stadium and one that’s been in the same effective configuration since the 1960s. Cheaper better seats, more seats, comfort, amenities everywhere … Fat Yak and Little Creatures versus generic Hahn SuperDry beer….

            • Both LA ballparks are fine, and they were built in the 1960’s.

              • Richard Hershberger

                Dodger Stadium was remarkably foresighted in its design. My recollection (I haven’t been there in decades) is that while the seating is fine (though no cup holders, unless they have been retrofitted) but the bathroom/concession stand situation was substandard.

          • efgoldman

            Yes, and part of the reason why it failed was that sentiment was very much against any fundamental restructuring of Fenway.

            Another, bigger reason: anyplace they tried to put it would have met fierce neighborhood resistance. Remember when the South Boston waterfront past the Fargo building was a virtual wasteland? The Pats tried to get a multipurpose stadium [retch!] about where the old navy Yard is. There werre plans on the front page of the Globe and everything. Billy Bulger and Jack Hart croaked it, croaked it damned good.

            • Would have been great to get the Pats and Sox into a big multipurpose stadium. Think how much cheaper Sox tickets would be.

              • Rigby Reardon

                And how much blander the experience would be.

          • Big Al

            Wrigley is actually a great place to watch baseball, as the sightlines and seating angles are excellent, and the park scale is correct. Perhaps not as great a place to actually get to and from your seat, hit the loo, buy a beer, etc. On the other hand, it is actually terrible to actually watch the game from the vast majority of seats in Fenway.

    • wengler

      I don’t know if I’d throw Wrigley Field in there for the simple fact that Wrigley Field is a dump. The Ricketts could feasibly improve it, but their full efforts have been poured into adding more seats, adding more advertising and a videoboard that can also be used for advertising, and blocking off the view from the rooftop seats. They are good ultra-rightwingers after all.

      • TribalistMeathead

        It’s hard for me to get indignant about blocking off the view from the rooftop seats with the houses underneath being used the way they are.

        • wengler

          The rooftop owners’ association made a long-term deal with the Cubs and the city before the Ricketts took over. They aren’t pretending to be ordinary neighborhood houses.

          • TribalistMeathead

            They aren’t pretending to be ordinary neighborhood houses.

            Right, which is why I don’t really give a shit if the view is blocked by new scoreboards.

            • wengler

              Those rooftops are part of why baseball at Wrigley is supposed to be a unique experience. Diminishing the nostalgic character of the stadium will just make more people realize what a dump it is.

              • Sam240

                Wrigley’s being a “dump” isn’t that surprising when you realize that the Cubs obtained a used stadium.

  • Statement from Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, as reported at http://clatl.com/freshloaf/archives/2013/11/11/reed-no-way-braves-would-have-stayed-without-costing-taxpayers-hundreds-of-millions-of-dollars

    The Atlanta Braves are one of the best baseball teams in America, and I wish them well. 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 $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.

    Good for them, even though they did just agree to shovel out public money for a new Hawks stadium.

    • D.N. Nation

      Falcons.

      So, basically, Kasim Reed chose 8 Falcons home games a year over 81 Braves home games.

      It’s worth noting that Reed was just re-elected mayor of Atlanta. There were no mayoral debates.

      • pseudonymous in nc

        I generally agree with this sentiment, but it will have other uses than Falcons games. The new stadium’s also intended to make Atlanta a prime candidate for a MLS franchise, and the the city’s funding component is from bonds paid off by a motel/hotel tax.

        It’s going to be a monument to Arthur Blank’s ego, that’s for sure.

        • efgoldman

          What are they gonna’ do with that hideous dome?

          • Big Al

            Demolish it. Hard to believe, but true.

            The new Falcons stadium will have a retractable roof and fill the same multipurpose role that the Georgia Dome does today (but more expensively).

            In the annals of public support, the City paying $200M of a $1.2B deal that allows improved proximity to transit and the opportunity for superior urban design to the current Dome is not a disaster. Suboptimal perhaps, but it could have been much worse.

    • TribalistMeathead

      Falcons stadium. Pretty sure Philips Arena is only ~15 years old.

      • Doh. Yep, I knew that.

      • Lefty68

        Clearly Philips is over the hill.

      • Big Al

        The Georgia Dome (Falcons stadium) is only 18 years old, and had extensive renovations less than 10 years ago. The replacement has nothing to do with depreciation or asset management.

  • Jeffrey Beaumont

    If any public funds are involved, there needs to be some sort of rule that says you have to use the stadium for at very least 25 years, maybe 30+.

    • howard

      this is the point i was looking to make, and i had to go pretty far down just to be sure no one else was making it: they spent whatever they spent to get the braves as a tenant and only required a 17-year lease? good golly miss molly, what in the world?

      • Anon21

        They spent whatever it took to convert Turner Field from an Olympic stadium into a baseball field. I’m sure that wasn’t nothing, but it was nowhere near the scale of a new stadium project.

        • howard

          i don’t have time to track it down: the quick references i just looked at suggest “multimillion” plus an additional significant renovation in 2005.

          the lease was 20 years, which still isn’t long enough, and yes, anon21, i realize that the investment isn’t the same as a brand new stadium, but given that it’s whole purpose was to benefit the atlanta braves ownership, a longer lease should have been required.

    • Lefty68

      I’d say 100. Thirty years is not that long in the life of a stadium.

      • Anon21

        Okay, well, that’s contrary to actual experience of sports facility use, but sure, you can say whatever you want while being merrily ignored.

        • what’s your point, anon21? if teams don’t want to sign lengthy leases for stadiums built for them, then let them finance their own damn stadiums. the only thing stopping them is a sense of entitlement.

          • Anon21

            That and the fact that they get what they want (public funding) practically every time.

            I don’t disagree that teams should pay for their own stadiums. But again, it’s stupid to say stadium lifespans should be measured in centuries.

            • efgoldman

              I point out (as I always do in these threads) that Gillette was built entirely with private funds (the state paid for some road improvements, not a hell of a lot in the scheme of things), the Krafts paid the loans off early, and the whole complex, with a shopping center, is an incredible cash cow for them, on top of their football and TV revenues.

            • i think you miss the point, anon21: the notion that they should have to sign a century-long lease (which is more extreme than i would push, but i’m willing to argue it) is to say “given the opportunity cost of public funding, the least you can do is guarantee you will be there to maximize our purported return in terms of higher business activity around the ballpark.”

              people don’t want to sign up? fine, no public money for you!

              if, in fact, stadiums are worthless after 30 years, as old and tired as a dated theme park ride, then there is absolutely no argument at all for public funding: that’s a complete waste of public monies, to only get a 30-year lifespan.

    • Tybalt

      The primary, often only, purpose to these buildings is to make money for their occupants. The condition for using public money should be that all profits go to the public.

  • ChrisS

    There were a few veiled jabs at Turner Field in one of the articles I read about how Turner needed new amenities for fans to improve the game experience. And I read that as needing more concession stores and higher end restaurants with a boatload of new luxury boxes like that place in the Bronx (which is designed to separate the fan from money as efficiently as possible and not designed for watching a ball game).

    • Anonymous

      The one in Queens isn’t much if any better.

    • Lefty68

      From the Braves’ press release:

      The facility needs $150 million in infrastructure work (replacing the seats, repairing and upgrading lighting, etc.), none of which would significantly enhance the fan experience. If the Braves were to pay for additional projects focused on improving the fan experience, the additional costs could exceed $200 million.

      I’m not sure I see how replacing the seats would not “enhance the fan experience,” but I suspect you’re right about it meaning more profit-making concessions. (You’ll also notice that $350M is a little less than the $672M they’re saying the new boondoggle stadium will cost.) As I recall, the supposed dearth of boxes in the Omni and Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium was the reason they tore those places down in favor of Philips Arena and the Georgia Dome barely 20 years ago. No matter how many skyboxes there are, it’s never enough.

      • FMguru

        That’s still baffling – $150M worth of lightbulbs and molded plastic seats?

        • Lefty68

          I don’t trust a single number in that press release.

          • Bill Murray

            I don’t know, I’ve read enough Beetle Bailey to know that Zero is probably not smart enough to lie

      • Big Al

        And skybox revenue and concession splits are the main reason why the Georgia Dome is being torn down now to make way for the new retractable roof stadium next door.

  • Sockie the Sock Puppet

    I wonder how they’ll manage to shift the burden from the county to the state and federal government; I don’t doubt that the effort will involve some altogether ingenious accounting, combined with a concerted effort to screw over the poor.

    It’s probably the local-government variation of the blow-out scam: Issue tons and tons of public debt, with the debt service arranged so that it’s low starting out but increasingly burdonsome as time goes on. Once the debt service is high enough, declare a municipal bankruptcy and have the state-appointed overseer “regretably” cut whatever funding exists for social services, schools, etc. while at the same time have the state pick up the bill for making the existing bondholders whole.

    The end result is that the local grandees get their major league playpen, the poors get screwed, a different level of government pays the bondholders, and bondholders enjoy a risk-premium elevated interest rate without actually having to face any risk.

    • FMguru

      I become more and more convinced that issues surrounding time-shifting and accountability are the number one threat to any kind of sensible democratic governance. Two other examples: politicians who promise big back-end benefits (retirement, medical, seniority, etc.) to government workers to keep current expenditures down and who are long gone when the bills come due, or the perfectly legal bribery where a Senator carries water for the Widget industry for 18 years, and then retires and gets a pre-arranged seven-figure job as head of WidgetPAC.

      • Sockie the Sock Puppet

        The back-end benefit problem isn’t limited to government. Weren’t a lot of mid-20th century union contracts loaded with pension and retirement health benefits — received in exchange for wage concessions — that became worthless when the company had financial troubles (in some cases self-inflicted) decades later?

        It’s the basic flaw in the whole employer-based social insurance model.

    • Lefty68

      Pretty sure Georgia municipalities can’t file Chapter 9 bankruptcy.

      • pseudonymous in nc

        They can be “too bad, so sad” on any kind of social service spending for the next decade.

  • JL

    I spent roughly the first half of my childhood (which included the ’94 GOP Congressional takeover) in GA-6. It is a very conservative place. If I’m talking about my childhood and I say “metro Atlanta” people always say “Oh well that’s not really conservative like the rest of Georgia, right? Because it’s near Atlanta?” so I’ve taken to just describing it as Gingrich’s old district, which causes people to form a more accurate impression.

    • My condolences. I grew up in GA-4 but my parents just got redistricted in 6, which they’re not happy about.

  • J R in WV

    I attended a wedding in Decatur, and one of my friends (Best Man) was asked “How do you all keep “them” [blacks] out of your church back home?”

    I was more than flabbergasted! But that’s Atlanta suburbia for you!

    • Lefty68

      Decatur is an interesting place. It’s close enough in that it’s not usually thought of as “suburbia.” It’s very socially progressive with a big lesbian population, but it has high taxes and is not very racially integrated. Local legend has it that about a century or so ago, the city fathers intentionally ran all the synagogues out of town, which is why it has a low Jewish population to this day. As white as it is, I’d still be surprised to hear someone there say something like that.

      This applies to the City of Decatur. Unincorporated DeKalb County to the south has a much larger minority population but has “Decatur” mailing addresses.

  • e.a.f.

    if professional sports teams want stadiums, they ought to be paying for them, themselves. no corporate welfare. If the federal government is cutting food stamps, there ought not to be any public money for things like stadiums. if they don’t want to sign for another lease, and they want a new stadium, they can build it themselves. If the county or state has that much spare change around, they ought to consider giving the cops, firefighters a raise and build an extra community hospital, school and community centre.

  • Nutella

    Newt’s district is one of the top in the entire country for federal dollars spent there exceeding federal taxes paid. They’re some of the biggest leeches and parasites in the country.

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