On Tuesday Cobb County commissioners approved major agreements with the Atlanta Braves and community agencies that paves the way for the team to relocate from its present downtown Atlanta location. Opponents of the taxpayer-funded park argue that their voices were silenced at the public meeting.
In November the Braves announced its decision to leave Turner field and build a new stadium in an outlying suburb. The team aims to begin play in its new home by the spring of 2017. The Braves have called Atlanta’s Turner Field, built for the 1996 Olympic games, home for just 18 years.
According to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the intended move to Cobb County was good news for many fans and Atlanta Braves executives, who were present at Tuesday’s standing room only public meeting. Significantly, Cobb County Commissioners unanimously approved the construction of the $622 million ballpark in the Cumberland Mall area. “Today was an historic day,” Derek Schiller, VP of sales and marketing for the Braves, exclaimed during a post meeting press conference. “We celebrate a great moment in our relationship with Cobb. We’re ready to build this ballpark.”
Although things went well for the new stadium enthusiasts, some critics of the deal claim that all the details and key documents of the expensive relocation has not been thoroughly vetted. Their frustration was apparent in the meeting room, but unfortunately for them they were out maneuvered by the pro-Cobb County Stadium advocates.
The Journal-Constitution reported that in the rules of the public meeting only 12 spots were granted for people to voice their opinions on the new deal, which may end up costing the county more than $300 million. Supporters for the new stadium lined up more than five hours in advance of the 7 p.m. meeting and were able to capture all 12 speaking slots. Critics of the agreement were outraged and felt that they were not given any say in the monumental decision. Tensions rose as some of the critics shuffled to the front of the hall shouting and pointing their fingers at the commissioners for “ignoring the voice of the people.”
Rich Pellegrino with the group Citizens for Governmental Transparency explained that he left work as early as possible and arrived at the meeting one hour before it commenced. He quickly discovered that he would not be able to speak since the spots on the list were all taken. “We’re working people,” Pellegrino protested. “We’re not on corporate welfare. It’s a slap in the face.”
According to AJC.com the cost of building the stadium is $622 million of which $392 million will be the public responsibility. The Braves contribution will be between $230 and $280 million.