Home / General / The Stadium Scam: Urban Planning Disaster Edition

The Stadium Scam: Urban Planning Disaster Edition


Great piece by an urban planner about how the ridiculous new Cobb County stadium for the “Atlanta” Braves is a completely disaster.

The Braves chose to relocate to Cobb County from downtown Atlanta’s Turner Field after only 19 years because of a $400 million public subsidy from Cobb taxpayers. The costs are almost certain to balloon thanks to some significant fiscal buffoonery on the part of Cobb officials, including a lack of a comprehensive transportation plan and forgetting to ask the Braves to pay for traffic cops. The sum is almost paltry compared to a lot of other public financing schemes—Las Vegas still takes the cake—but it was enough to run former County Commissioner Tim Lee out of office two years after the funding mechanism was approved following a series of closed door meetings that probably violated state transparency laws. (Lee did not respond to repeated requests for comment.) A Cobb County local I spoke with on the condition of anonymity as her family is involved in local politics said “there’s very little good that could be said about the stadium for the Cobb County taxpayers” and that “many of us in Cobb County are still bothered by the way the Braves deal came about.”

Unlike governments that dangle plum financing deals in order to entice teams to relocate across state lines, Cobb County’s decision to offer up nearly half a billion dollars in public money to the Braves in order to move them across county lines is a rare case of intra-regional competition. “A stadium leaving one district and going to another, it’s similar to industrial plants or major retail establishments relocating,” says Jason Henderson, a professor of geography at San Francisco State University and author of the paper “Secessionist Automobility: Racism, Anti-Urbanism, and the Politics of Automobility in Atlanta, Georgia.” “Places become competitive with each other,” he told me, “and Cobb is trying to get the stadium for the sales tax since that’s a huge source of revenue for the county. It’s a very American phenomenon to have localities competing for things like this.” Cobb’s decades-long campaign to remain apart from Atlanta proper only serves to amplify that competition; I’ve had several Atlanta locals tell me they’ll never attend another Braves game because of the way the regions were pitted against each other.

Attached to SunTrust Park like a Cinnabon-scented goiter is the Battery Atlanta, a $550M mixed-used development that looks an awful lot like a New Urbanist project, the widely criticized school of planning that is equal parts social engineering and neoliberalism. New Urbanism is city planning as Truman Show, attempting to humanize and rescale the misguided master planning concepts favored by designers like Le Corbusier. Cities like Seaside, Fla.,—where the Truman Show was partially filmed—and Disney-designed Celebration are attempts to urbanize the suburbs by integrating venerable concepts like transit-oriented design into communities cut from whole cloth. What many of these inorganic communities lack, however, is true diversity. Studies show that homes in New Urbanism communities are often expensive and the communities are more racially homogeneous than urban neighborhoods. “New Urbanism takes seriously many challenges of America’s current suburban landscape with an attention to the human scale, historical references, and architectural character,” says Ashley Bigham, a Walter B. Sanders Fellow at the University of Michigan’s architecture school and co-founder of Outpost Office. “However, many critics of New Urbanism have noted that relying on a historical understanding of urban spaces limits, if not excludes, more contemporary aspects of the city including individual expression and economic diversity.” Planting a project like the Battery in the middle of Cobb County (62 percent white at the last census, compared to 38 percent for Atlanta) only serves to amplify those issues.

With the Battery, the Braves are attempting to create a consumer ecosystem in a vacuum while allowing Cobb County to suck up enough sales tax receipts to legitimize the $400M public subsidy. They’re not the only franchise to attempt to anchor a mixed-use development with a new stadium, but what sets this apart from developments like the Ice District in Edmonton or the Arena District in Columbus is that the Battery is distinctly suburban, a Jacobsian island in the middle of a Moses-dream asphalt ocean. ESPN’s Bradford Doolittle had this to say on his first trip the stadium complex:

It’s an experiment, one where a sports franchise attempts to create a bubble. And once a fan enters it, there is no reason for him or her to spend money outside of it. And if it works, the ramifications will be noticed by baseball owners from coast to coast. If it works, it could change a lot of things. But we won’t know if it works for a long time.

So I guess I don’t see why this would work, but then what do I know? But who would go to this stadium unless you are a Cobb County resident? Why deal with the traffic? Is this sort of consumer experience really that appealing to people? And I suppose the answer is that I simply am not the target audience for any of this. I can say that many of the games I attend are as a tourist checking out a game in a new stadium or city. I would guess that 1-2% of attendees at a normal game are tourists. None of those people are going to venture from Atlanta to Cobb County except for the people determined to visit any stadium. But if you want baseball to be even whiter than it already is, I guess this is the future.

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  • The 7th Marx Brother

    I had the misfortune earlier this summer of spending a week in a hotel literally across the highway from the new Braves stadium (had to be there for something not MLB-related). Traffic in the vicinity was always terrible–and even worse on game days, of course. On the other hand, traffic is similarly bad everywhere in the Atlanta metro area. And the old Braves stadium, while inside the city of Atlanta, wasn’t in any sort of walkable neighborhood. As I recall from a few visits, there was a budget hotel next door, but really nothing in the way of bars, restaurants or anything else that might entice someone to visit–and getting there on mass transit from downtown was an hour-plus ordeal that required train transfers and a couple of buses.

    Tax-funded giveaways for stadiums are a farce. But purely in terms of smart development (not spending or other issues), I don’t know how much worse the new Cobb County Braves venture is than the old Turner Field. IMHO, all of metro Atlanta is a living textbook of How Not To Develop An Urban Area.

    • Unree

      How Not to Develop An Urban Area part the umpteenth, more detail: The Ted was an unpleasant hike from the nearest train station, and put there on purpose. The burghers of Bergen sited their suburban train stop almost equally far from Troldhaugen, the home of Edvard Grieg, but Norwegians are willing to walk. I walked often to and from Turner Field from MARTA and was always conspicuous.

      • EliHawk

        I always made the walk too, and it wasn’t too bad. The damnedest thing though was that, unlike the Georgia Dome (Which had a MARTA station right by it), they built MARTA after they’d built Atlanta Fulton-County Stadium, and didn’t think to put a stop there. (With the Ted built just across the street from AFCS).

    • rlc

      Yeah, the Hampton? We’ve been in that one a dozen times over the last 15 years because the corporate hq is in Vinings. We were able to plan around the Braves games this last time, so it wasn’t as bad as I feared (pro-tip, hardly any cops around, so if you drive around the various traffic control cones, you can save a bunch of time before the game), but overall the Atlanta experience was abominable. It took me 4 hrs to get from the Carlos Museum, to Vinings, and back down to VA Highlands ~30miles, with google maps giving me the counter-intuitive routes. Midtown and Buckhead are impassable during the long rush “hour”. It *looks* like a great city. It appears to actually be a shithole to live/work in. I’m the free one during the day and so got to experience traffic armageddon as a tourist experience throughout the day.

      I expect that Midtown is going to have an existential crisis when the gridlock goes to 3+ hours twice a day. MARTA does not have enough coverage and buses go the same speed as other traffic (i.e. ~0) and there’s not enough physical space for dedicated bus lanes. Unless the execs in all those towers are using helicopters, they’re experiencing the peasant life too.

  • The right kind of baseball stadium is of course Fenway Park. It’s in the city but on the edge, with a suburban bedroom community in walking distance. The neighborhood of the park is totally walkable and in fact is a real neighborhood that is fully alive all the time but positively throbs when there’s a game. It’s very well served by mass transit and it’s been there for 100 years, doing just fine. Orioles Park at Camden Yards basically emulates the concept and there are other good examples of ballparks that are real assets to their city and their neighborhood. There is a right way to do this.

    • twbb

      I thought Fenway’s problem was it was filled with Boston fans.

      • Unemployed_Northeastern

        There will be blood indeed.

    • Van Buren

      You spelled Wrigley Field wrong.

      • That too.

      • Denverite

        Huh. You can smell the urine when someone even TYPES the name of that shithole.

        • Adam Short

          I used to root for teams like the 2017 Rockies so that their perennially embittered fans would have something to be happy about. But ironically the Red Sox and Cubs have more or less proved that perennially embittered fans are actually permanently embittered fans.

          I will still root for the Rockies though, just without the joyful hope that it will result in more pleasant Rockies fans.

          Possibly a non-sequitor as I don’t know for a fact that you’re a CR fan.

          • Denverite

            Not really. I’ll casually watch when they’re playing well (like now), and we usually go to a couple of games every year because Coors Field is fun, but I’m mostly a White Sox fan. (I lived on the south side of Chicago for about a decade.)

            • Adam Short

              Ah OK, I was misidentifying the source of your Wrigley hate.

              Wrigley is nice IMO, though heretically I think Wrigleyville is obnoxious and dumb.

          • West

            Part of why Red Sox fans are permanently embittered is because of how abysmally uncomfortable the seats are in Fenway. Even when new, in an era when Americans were on average a lot thinner than today, the early fans complained bitterly about how narrow the seats are side-to-side and how cramped the knee room is to the seat in front of you. Now, with generally heftier fans, (West throws a stone from within a glass house, ahem), it is just excruciating.

            • Adam Short

              I have been to Fenway, and while it is an old park, in no way does it deserve to be blamed for the obnixiousness of Boston fans. It’s not that bad.

            • applecor

              I have lived within walking distance of Fenway Park for over 35 years, and was an avid fan for maybe 25 of those years. Cervantes is right about the neighborhood, but West is right about the ballpark. The food is a bit better than in the pre-Henry era but the seats and sight lines are horrible. I have not been able to endure more than three innings for a couple of decades. So the answer is, enjoy the neighborhood, avoid dropping a C-note for a ticket, and enjoy the game from one of the local bars.

          • Coors Field also scores well on walkability/neighborhood criteria.

            • As does The Giants’ ATT Park. Of course, one thing that makes that so is that walking up to ten blocks from parking to the stadium in San Francisco during the summer, you don’t have the heat and humidity you would at pretty much any other stadium east of Denver.

        • Hypersphrericalcow

          I had heard of “troughs” in men’s rooms, but never actually saw one before I went to Wrigley. It was so much worse than I expected.

          • efgoldman

            I had heard of “troughs” in men’s rooms

            Fenway used to have them, too. No idea if it still does.

            • Various places in France—for one example, some (and perhaps all) of the (unisex!!!) student restrooms serving the lecture rooms at Université Paul Sabatier in Toulouse—have walls: men stand at them and piss at water that constantly flows down a porcelain wall to a (shallow) trough/drain at the bottom. The path to the (I repeat, unisex!!!) cubicles with toilets (which are, at least, not the old-fashioned hole-in-the-ground variety, and do have doors with latches) passes behind these walls. I have to admit I was shocked beneath my veneer of stolid cosmopolitanism. (I haven’t been there since 2001 or so; perhaps things are different now, but why should they be?)

              Faculty/staff restrooms in the reseach/administation/library buildings are also unisex, but have no dedicated urinals.

            • EliHawk

              I used to encounter them at the Georgia Dome (built 1992), so I think their removal is a relatively recent development in stadium construction.

    • Adam Short

      Camden Yards isn’t really in a “real neighborhood” but Baltimore’s inner harbor (a tourist-trap district) is actually an ideal place for stadiums IMO. It’s not hard to get to if you’re a local but it’s not in the way on the ~300 days a year it’s not in use (~357 for the football stadium.)

      • West

        That’s all fair, sort of. But I’m a lifelong Orioles fan, old enough to remember both the old Memorial Stadium, and what Inner Harbor looked like back when the shipping industry had abandoned it (too shallow) and before the Rouse Company did their thing to make it the “Inner Harbor”.

        The general promise of the Inner Harbor was that it would do far more than just create some tourist revenue; it was also supposed to create ever-expanding concentric circles of cvic improvement and urban revitalization. And it sort of did!! consider Federal Hill and Fells Point.

        Camden Yards was pitched as a continuation of that, in the sense that it was projected to pull the revitalization zone westward from the previously quid successful Inner Harbor into a frieght rail yard that the railroads didn’t need any more for that purpose. And it did!!! Insofar as tourist zone goes. But……

        Look at an aerial view of the two stadia there: Camden Yards and whatever they’re calling the football stadium now (I’m an Os fan, not a Ravens fan). Although a portion of the fan base can come by rail, there’s still a sea of parking, and a bunch of highway access points: most fans are still driving. This forms a sea of asphalt between the thriving Inner Harbor / stadium area, and the not-thriving West Baltimore. Those ever-expanding concentric circles of revitalization? I think they will be exceedingly unlikely to ever jump past that barrier of asphalt to West Baltimore.

        OK, sports fans, youse get one guess as to the ethnic breakdown of West Bawlmer as compared to Federal Hill and Fells Point. Coincidence?

        • Adam Short

          Interesting. I didn’t know that about the IH. Also you are obviously a discerning person as “Orioles fan; not a Ravens fan” is plainly the correct stance for a Baltimorean.

      • rrhersh

        More to the point from the perspective of Baltimoreans, Camden Yards is on the edge of downtown. It is an easy walk from the office for those who live there, the transportation infrastructure was mostly already in place, as well as the bars and restaurants. The location is pretty much ideal.

    • Hypersphrericalcow

      PNC Park in Pittsburgh has also worked out pretty well. Within walking distance of downtown, subway station right next door, and well-designed with a spectacular backdrop of the city skyline (seriously, in how many other places can a home run land in a river?).

      • Unree

        My favorite ballpark in the country–everything you say plus fireworks–but a weirdly hyper-Caucasian crowd buys Pirates tickets. I have no idea why the whiteness factor at PNC manages to stand out even in the crowded field, so to speak. Pittsburgh is a segregated city, but what city isn’t?

      • Bill Altreuter

        Pittsburgh doesn’t have a lot going on downtown after a night game, but the ballpark experience is sublime

      • rrhersh

        The location, which i agree is excellent, is dictated by geography. The Pittsburgh Club was playing in nearly exactly the same spot in the 1880s. Back then the issue was that the location wasn’t really suitable for many purposes due to frequent flooding. If some games were flooded out this was inconvenient, but ballpark construction back then was cheap and quick, so it wasn’t that big a deal. There are accounts of games were parts of the outfield were under water. They dealt. With the miracle of modern civil engineering the flooding is less frequent, but there are still a lot of activities that you wouldn’t want to put there.

    • SatanicPanic

      San Diego did it about as well as it could be done (funding it and the team we field, not so much).

    • Lot_49

      Petco Park in San Diego, although funded by a taxpayer pre-bailout, has been a big success from an urban planning point of view, even if the Padres are a perennially terrible team. It’s a reasonably attractive structure that made use of existing industrial buildings, walkable from the Gaslamp Quarter entertainment district, and served by mass transit. There’s plenty of residential development around it too, although mostly high-priced condos and apartments.

    • Unemployed_Northeastern

      Except the price of parking around the stadium is insane and only getting worse as the Fenway neighborhood around the park continues to transform from fast food restaurants and gas stations into ~20 glass apartment buildings.

    • Eric K

      Safeco and Century Link in Seattle are both great stadiums and in the right location with easy transit access. They spent too much public money on them, but at least they got them right.

      Now of course they can’t do a basketball arena right even when someone offers to privately fund it.

      • Breadbaker

        At my last Mariners game a door on a restroom wasn’t working right and my reaction was that the Mariners needed to do some maintenance, not “we need to knock this place down”. It still feels like the “new” stadium to this denizen of the Kingdome starting in 1979. And the M’s refer to it still as “the most beautiful park in baseball.” It’s two years younger than the Ted.

      • ColBatGuano

        The debate over the basketball/hockey arena is driving me insane. The Seattle Times has decided that locating it in the same area as the other two stadiums is out. They think must go back to the Coliseum after an expensive rebuild in an area that can no longer handle the traffic games will generate. The stadium district just south of downtown has access to both I-90 and I-5 as well as both light rail and the regular rail tracks while the Seattle Center area has none of that.

        • Eric K

          It’s crazy, hopefully someday a tell-all book will come out and expose whatever the conflict of interest is that has The Times so all in on Key Arena, it can’t be just the Port of Seattle, which is a marginal issue.

    • efgoldman

      The right kind of baseball stadium is of course Fenway Park.

      I grew up and went to school a 15 minute walk from Fenway. I also went to Patriots games there, before even the old stadium was built in Foxboro. Prior to the John Henry ownership, when nobody cared about the Red Sox (not like they do now) the place was a neglected sewer, but I could buy walk up tickets for pretty much any game.
      I think the last time I was there was a game where Clemens’ winning streak was broken. Canseco and McGwire, still playing for the As, each hit massive home runs.
      Now I live an hour (more or less) away, I can’t afford the tickets and parking. The park is all cleaned up and renovated, but my baseball is all on TV or occasionally AAA Pawtucket.
      There are no more casual fans.

  • rfm

    1.) At least it’s Cobb County that got hosed.
    2.) Literally any of the MARTA counties would have been a better location.
    3.) People in the area generally seem fine with the new stadium as a stadium experience, including the transit situation.

    • Dr. Ronnie James, DO

      AFAIK, there are two kinds of people in Atlanta: those who ride MARTA, and those who want MARTA riders nowhere near them. This stadium is clearly built to appease the latter group.

  • Thom

    This reminds me of one of the better features of Austin: no major league teams.

  • MattF

    Why would anyone outside of Cobb County go to this stadium? How would anyone outside of Cobb County get to this stadium? Just asking.

    • a stranger in the alps

      1) To go see the Braves (lose). The Battery, the shops and restaurants around SunTrust Park, is not worth a trip from outside that part of Cobb.
      2) More planning than D-Day. When I went a few months ago (coming from Gwinnett County, NE of Atlanta along I-85), there was no parking available next to the stadium, so I had to park at some office building, which is how the Braves are handling a lot of parking. As I was leaving to walk to the bus for the stadium, an office employee showed up, mystified that his parking was repurposed, and was told to park at Lockheed (some distance away). This guy’s lack of notification isn’t the Braves’ fault, but it is a symptom of the confusion. After the noon game, it took me 90 minutes to get home.

      I really miss the Ted – it had a ballpark atmosphere and was a fun place to see a game. SunTrust Park is shoehorned into a very small area and wants to take every dime you bring; you don’t even need to purchase a ticket for that.

  • Dr. Ronnie James, DO

    It’s a shame, Turner Field had a great vibe (I went to one game a few years ago when I was in Atlanta for a training). Lots of pedestrian concourses inside the stadium, and as a result there was a vibrant tailgating type scene, with lots of folks mingling pre-game. Unlike anything I’ve seen elsewhere. And post-game, downtown Atlanta is as much of a ghost town as you’ve heard.

    • In related news, Atlanta is a pretty awful city, at least in my experience of living there for 4 months in 1999 and then visiting last year. Can’t believe how terrible the downtown scene still was in 2016.

      • rfm

        Downtown is pretty dead but plenty of other neighborhoods have thriving business districts and nightlife.

        • wjts

          In my experience, the downtowns of most cities are pretty dead in the evenings unless there’s a performing arts venue or a sports facility nearby.

          • Denverite

            I guess I’m a little biased because the two cities I’ve lived in in my adult life (Chicago and Denver) both have pretty vibrant downtowns at night.

            • wjts

              Even in Chicago I tend to think of nightlife as something that happens elsewhere.

              • Denverite

                Depends what you count as “downtown.” If you literally mean like Roosevelt to the river and the lake over to the highway, it’s less vibrant (though even then you’ve got all of the theaters, Printers Row, etc.

                But I tend to think of “downtown Chicago” as including the South/West Loops and River North, and if you include those there is a crapload to do.

                • wjts

                  I think of it more as the former plus the south part of River North that’s more office buildings/hotels than restaurants, etc., but fair enough.

              • Hypersphrericalcow

                I was in college at Northwestern in 1999, and I and a couple friends went to the Loop to see the touring production of “Rent” (man, that play has not aged well). It was like a neutron bomb had gone off. There was *no-one* on the streets. It was kind of creepy.

          • rfm

            Same for me. In most mid-sized cities The Action doesn’t seem to be downtown. Downtown, if it’s a CBD with limited residential options, is just where you work.

            I think of “downtown Atlanta” as being pretty strictly the area around Five Points. (Like I wouldn’t consider Turner Field to be downtown.) If you’re there and it seems dead, hop on MARTA and ride a few stops to Midtown.

            • PohranicniStraze

              How are you defining smaller? Memphis (~1M pop) has a very bustling downtown, or at least it did when I lived there last decade. New Orleans of course, but it is a special category. Here in the DFW Metroplex, Fort Worth has a very busy downtown, but from what I hear (don’t get there much myself) downtown Dallas turns into a ghost town at night.

              • rfm

                Smaller to me is less than 200-300,000 or thereabouts. There are a lot of variables at play though.

            • a stranger in the alps

              Midtown (close to downtown) and Buckhead (10 miles away, feels like 30) have more life than the exact downtown of Atlanta. Downtown ATL is trying with mixed results around the big hotels with restaurants, bars, and nightclubs.

      • Scizzy

        Atlanta is great. They just hold AHA in the most boring part of the city.

    • Hypersphrericalcow

      I’ve only been to Turner Field once, but I enjoyed it. Atlanta seems to be one of the few cities for which the modern Olympics was not a financial/logistical disaster.

      • EliHawk

        Nah. They made a profit, and the only things the government were on the hook for were security and infrastructure (which was nice because it made a city and suburbs full of NIMBYs actually spend on infrastructure). There were some white elephants, but mostly the big ticket stuff was immediately reusable or just (like the Dome, home of basketball and Gymnastics) adapted stuff already being built. The fiber optics laid to be the world’s media capital for 2 weeks made Atlanta a minor tech hub in time for the internet boom, the village dorms pushed GA Tech and especially GA State up a class in quality and resources, and the Ted ended up being a perfectly great baseball stadium–and one built entirely on the dime of NBC, Coca-Cola, Budweiser, and other corporate Olympic sponsors, not the taxpayer. It’s one reason I hate the Braves more so much: The Olympics gave Atlanta a great deal, and the Braves and Cobb County decided to get a shitty one instead.

  • N__B

    Semi-OT (It’s in the long block quote in the OP, so I figure that’s fair game): you know why New Urbanism towns are expensive? Because they’re green-field development. Instead of taking an old town that actually had a downtown, infrastructure, and a plan that was decades (in some parts of the country) or hundreds of years (in other parts) old and fixing what was wrong with it, the visionaries want their precious untouched by the icky remnants of the past. If they took half the money they plowed into a new town and worked on improving an old one, they’d get better results but less credit for being daring geniuses.

    • Life in Queens

      It’s not the designers who decide where development happens, it’s developers and local politicians. I’d guess that the pending development at Turner Field (which the writer lauds ) will be close to identical to the development he deplores as New Urbanism in Cobb County. The only specific difference he cites is that the Turner development is contiguous with the older city. Designers have plenty of faults, but they’re routinely criticized for problems created by political decisions about land use.

      • N__B

        Since I didn’t blame the designers, I don’t understand how this is a response to what I said.

        • You blamed the visionaries. Aren’t they the designers?

          • Lot_49

            I’d say the “designers” were the architects, engineers and urban planners who lay out the project in the area the politicians set aside.

            • So the politicians are visionaries?

              • Lot_49

                Yeah, just not necessarily in a good way. Just saying that for every dumb urban planning decision, there was probably a planner saying, “But Councilman, this stadium will ruin a viable low-income neighborhood.”

          • N__B

            I blamed the people spending money, That’s never the designers.

    • West

      Exactly. It should be called Retro Suburbanism, because that’s the closest term to what it is. They very consciously harken back to the streetcar suburbs of the 1920s. Except, in most cases, they don’t have the streetcars, so they’re not even quite making it to Retro Suburbanism, of the sort they aspire to.

    • David Allan Poe

      The desire to be perceived as a genius is probably responsible for more ugliness, stupidity, waste, and all-around lame shit than anything else in human psychology, at least in the modern world, except straight-up greed.

  • Denverite

    if you want baseball to be even whiter than it already is

    But see Comiskey Park in Chicago.

  • Incontinentia Buttocks

    Just wanted to add at least one cheer for Le Corbusier. His grand planning visions have rightly fallen into disrepute. But the guy was nonetheless a fascinating architect and thinker. I visited his Cité radieuse in Marseille this summer. And though there are plenty of bad ideas in that building (which is one of the reasons that it never really functioned as planned), other things about it are brilliant, especially in the design of the individual apartments.

  • West

    I took a course in economic development once, it was an overview of about 26 different models for regional eco-development. Focus was the US, but with some occasional references to other countries, not a lot. We did a tentative ranking of best to worst strategies. That ranking was tough in some cases, of course, but from the readings and discussions, it was unanimous what came in dead last: using public monies to fund a stadium. The order of which types of stadia were least bad to worst: dual hockey/b-ball in a downtown, baseball stadiums close to mass transit, baseball in the suburbs, football (anywhere).

    There was one economist we read who asserted confidently that the public money spent on a stadium would provide a better boost to the local economy if you threw it all out the windows of a fleet of helicopters, in cash, in low denominations. It’s been too long, so i cannot provide a reference.

    • Adam Short

      That’s Allen Sanderson of the University of Chicago. He also wrote the best short paper on why it may actually make sense for big cities to have publicly-financed stadiums (to be clear, he actually doesn’t think it’s a good idea, but he was putting forward his best effort at making a robust case as to how it COULD be a good idea.)


  • Unemployed_Northeastern

    $400 million is nearly three times the city and state tax break package Boston used to land the global headquarters of General Electric. Incidentally all of our pro sports facilities were built with 100% private funds. So much for the old “Taxachusetts” sobriquet.

    • dstatton

      A friend of mine who moved from Boston to Atlanta tells me that taxes are higher in Georgia.

      • Unemployed_Northeastern

        There’s a million and one ways to rank states by their tax burden, but last I saw, for a household with the median income, the combined state/property/sales/excise tax burden in Massachusetts was like 27th among the 50 states. Right around the median, in other words.

  • Fiona DeLaMere

    At least they’re grifting the right people.

    Joe Dendy, chairman of the Cobb County Republican Party-

    “It is absolutely necessary the (transportation) solution is all about
    moving cars in and around Cobb and surrounding counties from our north
    and east where most Braves fans travel from, and not moving people into
    Cobb by rail from Atlanta.”

    • EliHawk

      Yeah, the old local suburban definition of MARTA was “Moving Africans Rapidly Through Atlanta.” Everyone shits on the DC Metro, but both it and MARTA were built at the same time. Compare how much of DC it serves vs how much of Atlanta MARTA serves because it was kept out of the suburban counties, and you see the impact of white flight on crippling public transportation.

  • sanjait

    19 years wow. I’m trying to comprehend the mindset that considers a stadium to be a 20 year asset. Like, “this stadium is so late 90s, we better get a new one.”

    If I were negotiating on behalf of a muni that insisted on pushing for a stadium subsidy, at the very least I’d insist on a clause that pays the city bigly if the team leaves anytime before the bonds are paid off.

    • LosGatosCA

      Shirley, you jest!

      The peoples are stoopid. Except for those who are corrupt and stoopid. And the 1% who depend on the corrupt and the stoopid.

      But today is a good day. At least the Nazi KKK is only carrying torches and not guns. Venezuela hasn’t been bombed yet, and Trump hasn’t nuked Korea in Faux roid rage.

      It’s only 41 months and 8 days until … something else. And about 30 years for another possible chance to establish a sane Supreme Court majority.

      Needless to say I remain very optimistic for truth, justice, and the American way!

  • TheBrett

    This is why any stadium subsidy bill should require a public referendum. Leave it to city officials and they almost always seem to get themselves and their communities into trouble with it.

    That said, Battery Atlanta sounds like a good idea, and this part of that excerpt is stupid:

    looks an awful lot like a New Urbanist project, the widely criticized school of planning that is equal parts social engineering and neoliberalism.

    Oh no, the dread neoliberals are trying to design walkable neighborhoods that save on energy and make better use of public transit! It’s just the author trying to throw a criticism at Battery Atlanta, and using “Neoliberalism” as a meaning-stripped bogeyman.

    Someone thankfully called him out over this in the comments there, and his response was basically, “Look, it is good, but they don’t make them quite good enough in the ‘not needing a car’ element, and they often end up pricing out people and not being particularly diverse.” The former is a fair criticism of implementation but not really the program itself, and the latter isn’t limited to New Urbanism – it’s a problem everywhere in the US where you have a combination of housing stock that grows slower than the demand for it from higher-income – and thus disproportionately white – buyers.

  • Why socialism doesn’t work

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