Bravely going: City’s baseball team to walk away from Atlanta in 2017
The city of Atlanta just received a swooft kick to the coin purse.
The Atlanta Braves, the team named after the city it is in, will move to Cobb County in 2017.
No one saw that coming, and yet it shouldn’t come as a shock. The Braves have been hinting they’d like to move out of Atlanta since Reagan was president.
I’d like to confess that I’m not a baseball fan. The games take forever. I don’t like being outside when it’s hot. I am, however, a faithful capitalist. I recognize the economic impact of having a professional baseball team close to home.
We really don’t need any deep philosophical, soul-searching explanations. It’s about money. Cobb County is reportedly offering some $450 million in incentives to get the Braves to move there. You don’t need an economist to figure it out.
Odds are, we’ll be having this discussion all over again once the tax money runs out and the Braves go shopping for a better deal.
A couple of things stand out to me about this story. While some of the details on the move are lacking, there is an abundance of irony.
– For more analysis on the Braves moving out of Atlanta, let’s go to the newspaper that already moved out of Atlanta. The Atlanta Journal Constitution’s scrutiny of the Braves moving to the suburbs is pure comedic gold, considering the AJC did the exact same thing in 2010. The AJC’s owner, Cox Enterprises, even got $1.4 million in tax breaks from Sandy Springs to expand their campus. (To be fair, this came way later.) Why brand yourself with Atlanta’s name if you don’t even want to do business there?
– The city’s Falcons deal looks like less of a deal for taxpayers. Yeah, I know this is all supposed to be paid for with hotel-motel money, but that’s a misleading claim. That’s like narcotics officers saying the drug dealer’s Cadillac they seized isn’t something that should concern taxpayers. If the government owns it, collects it or drives it to church on Sunday, it belongs to the taxpayers. The City of Atlanta issued $200 million in bonds to pay for the new Falcons stadium. Anyone want to guess what happens if that hotel motel tax money doesn’t match projections because the Atlanta Braves games will be in Cobb County?
– Was the move to Cobb backed by a study? As we all know, studies are iron-clad prophecies delivered to us by the Ghost of Christmas Future. Before Atlanta delved into its stadium deal, the project’s supporters produced a study touting the economic benefits of spending $1 billion in a city’s downtown. That was a stretch for policy wonks, but they did the math and concluded it made sense. We have no such study from Cobb. None. A study not blessed by the time lords becomes a reverse prophecy by default, which means that Cobb is in grave danger.
– Your transit sucks. Let’s move to Cobb County and build the stadium at the intersection of I-285 and I-75. You can’t possibly tell me with a straight face that driving on I-285 is somehow more convenient than taking a dinky shuttle from MARTA to the stadium. Hell, that shuttle is one of the few things MARTA succeeds at with any kind of consistency. Getting to, from and through Turner Field is pretty easy if you’re not driving. There won’t be any MARTA access to the new stadium, because Cobb County fears MARTA the way a televangelist fears “60 Minutes.” MARTA was the great boogey-man used to persuade about 70 percent of Cobb County residents to vote against a sales tax that would – ironically – pay for road improvements.
I don’t see how this will make it any easier for people to get to the baseball games if they don’t already live around Cobb County. I suspect it’s probably not something people in Cobb are too worried about.