FICTION: Cobb County has no plan for managing traffic around the new stadium.
FACT: There are currently approximately $1 billion in traffic improvement projects currently approved and scheduled in the area surrounding the stadium. These projects include a new diverging diamond interchange at I-75 and Windy Hill Road, the widening of Windy Hill Road and Cobb Parkway, and managed lanes on I-75 in Cobb County. The Braves are also working extensively with transportation and parking experts in addition to Cobb DOT staff to develop a plan to successfully accommodate their fans and minimize traffic on the 81 days per year games are played.
FICTION: It is illegal to use bond financing to pay for this new baseball stadium.
FACT: The Braves, Cobb County and the Authority have had a team of legal experts confirm that the financing approach is not only legal, it is the customary approach governments use to fund economic development initiatives. In addition, in the past 30 years none of the legal challenges to General Obligation Revenue bonds being proposed in this deal have been successful in court.
FICTION: Cobb County residents will pay more taxes to fund the stadium.
FACT: Cobb County homeowners will not see their taxes go up one penny, and no money will be diverted from public education or public safety. The bonds being financed to pay for the stadium’s construction will be paid off with revenue currently being used to pay down existing bonds that were taken out to complete countywide green space improvements. Once the green space bonds are paid off, the revenue will used to pay down the stadium bonds. Additional funds needed to pay for the new stadium will be paid by Cobb County businesses and visitors. In addition, no taxpayer dollars will go into the mixed-use development, which will generate millions of new dollars in sales and property tax revenue to the County.
FICTION: The Cobb County government has not explained how it will pay its portion of the stadium construction costs.
FACT: Cobb County has been extremely detailed on how they will find their portion of the stadium project. Bonds being taken out by Cobb County to finance the stadium’s construction will be paid off using existing County revenue and not by increasing property taxes for homeowners. The Cumberland Community Improvement District also is contributing $10 million. Additional revenue will be secured from the existing hotel/motel tax, a new rental car tax and a new tax on businesses located roughly within the boundaries of the Cumberland CID. Additionally, these figures are based on conservative estimations of today’s revenue. Items like the rental car and hotel/motel taxes will rise once the stadium is built and millions of fans come into the County for games and events.
FICTION: The new baseball stadium will create the need for millions of dollars in additional public safety spending.
FACT: Some public safety needs, such as a new fire station in the Cumberland area and additional police officers countywide, were ongoing concerns that predated the Braves’ decision to build the new stadium. Yes, a new baseball stadium requires increased police presence, much like any development on that site would. It must be pointed out, however, that stadium neighbors will also benefit from these public safety investments the other 284 days out of the year when the Braves are not playing a home game and the service will be funded with the additional tax revenue generated from the events on site. The Braves will pay for security and police inside the stadium and in the mixed-use development.
FICTION: The mixed-use portion of the project will not be developed.
FACT: The Braves have closed on the purchase of more than 60 acres for the site of the new stadium and development, secured a master planner for the project, applied to rezone the land for a mixed-use development and issued an RFP for a developer for the project. In addition, they have spoken about the mixed-use development in detail to several media outlets.
FICTION: Cobb County’s share of the cost for the new stadium is increasing.
FACT: Media reports have claimed that the County’s share of the costs have increased by $18.2 million, which will be needed to pay for bond issuance costs and upfront interest. This $18.2 million has always been included in the stadium cost numbers that were shared with the public. As a matter of fact, the fact sheet released with the stadium announcement in November clearly states that the annual contribution covers “principal and interest of the bond issuance.” When one newspaper ran the chart in the printed version of their story, they literally ripped the sheet in half, omitting the relevant section. The $368 million in bonds the County is issuing includes funds needed to cover these upfront costs and the County’s annual debt service remains the exact same.
FICTION: Cobb County has hidden information about the new stadium from the public.
FACT: Both Cobb County and the Braves have provided a wealth of information on this project at every critical juncture, providing more than is required by the state’s sunshine laws. Both have been very accommodating with the media, multiple public meetings have been held on numerous issues and a wealth of documents can be found at www.CobbCounty.org and www.HomeoftheBraves.com.