Mar 10, 2022 - News

Report: Cobb taxpayers losing $15M annually on Braves stadium deal

Fans at Truist Park
Photo: Austin McAfee/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Cobb County’s decision to help the Braves move from downtown Atlanta is costing taxpayers nearly $15 million a year. That’s according to a report by Kennesaw State University economic professor J.C. Bradbury, a vocal critic of public financing of stadiums.

Driving the news: The report explores the economic impact of Truist Park and The Battery Atlanta opening in Cobb County. Bradbury tells Axios he thinks that $15 million could be spent on other things.

Catch up fast: In 2013, the Braves announced the team would vacate Turner Field and build a stadium off Cobb Parkway north of Interstate 285.

  • To support the team’s relocation, Cobb County committed to financing $300 million to help with construction of the stadium.
  • Bradbury’s report notes Cobb’s elected officials touted the deal as a “home run” for the county that would increase property values and drive more tax revenue.

What they’re saying: That hasn’t been the case, Bradbury tells Axios. His report shows that the increase in property values Cobb has seen since the stadium opened in 2017 is not any greater than in neighboring counties.

  • He said Cobb does see a boost in sales tax revenue during Braves' home games. About 75% of sales tax revenue generated at the property is from Truist Park, not the restaurants and shops at The Battery, Bradbury’s report contends.
  • “The broader lesson is that sports stadiums do not have a broad economic impact, so why do we keep talking about them like they do?” Bradbury asked.

The other side: Cobb County spokesperson Ross Cavitt said Bradbury is “looking at the numbers differently than we do.”

  • The county’s annual obligation to repay its debt has dropped from about $6.4 million to around $4.26 million in 2019, Cavitt said.

Cavitt also says the report doesn’t consider the effect the COVID-19 pandemic had on revenue.

  • “It’s a shame that this was done on the heels of a two-year pandemic that took the wind out of the sales, but we expect it’ll come back,” he said.

Former Cobb County Commissioner Bob Ott, who was in office at the time the deal was approved, said property values in his neighborhood, which is 2 to 3 miles from Truist Park, have increased since it opened five years ago.

  • “It has been clear from the beginning that Mr. Bradbury does not agree with the project and he continues to write articles and publish reports that give the same message,” he said.
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