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Braves may ask for state aid on new ballpark

New Atlanta Braves ballpark

Though Cobb County’s contribution to a new Atlanta Braves ballpark is capped, more public money in the form of state grants may be part of the final financial equation.

The exact extent of any state aid is not yet known and will depend on exactly what form the final ballpark and development design takes. Basically, the Braves and Cobb County say the project may qualify for state tax incentives based on investments, tourism, job creation and more. This project could end up qualifying for up to $50 million in state tax incentives — money that would go to the Braves, not Cobb County. From Atlanta Magazine:

“Once we get into a final design over the next six to nine months, when we really start pulling together all of the details of the construction, that’s when I think we’ll start seeing that,” Braves executive vice president Mike Plant said in an interview last week. The Braves had been looking at many of those same state incentives to help with renovations if they had chosen to remain at their current home in downtown Atlanta.

“We’ve had conversations with the Georgia Chamber of Commerce,” Plant said. “We were having discussions with them well over a year ago about what we could do potentially here at Turner Field. Those things [incentives] exist here as well.”

Those job-creation and energy efficiency incentives, which can offset half or more of a company’s state income tax liability, are available to any qualifying project.

One potential political issue could arise if the team seeks a tourism grant, which must be approved by Gov. Nathan Deal.

The Braves will pay at least $372 million toward the cost of a new suburban ballpark and mixed-use development, while Cobb County will have its cost capped at $300 million.

Speaking of the Braves: email correspondence between the team and the city of Atlanta was released today by the mayor’s office. Local journalists are all over themselves going through it. One big takeaway: it was pretty clear the city was slow in negotiating any upgrades to Turner Field, even when it was acting quickly to approve a billion-plus finding plan for a new Atlanta Falcons stadium — a development that clearly raised irritated some Braves officials. And when the Braves announced a new Cobb County ballpark, the city was caught without a response. Here’s a nugget unearthed by Atlanta Magazine:

From: Plant, Mike
Sent: Wednesday, March 20, 2013 2:51 PM
To: Utz, Hans J.
Hans, just got the call from Brianna that the mtg has been cancelled. Again. have to be honest with you Hans, that sends a very bad message that I now have to pass on to our chairman who I briefed yesterday on the current status and upcoming discussion. I think you and I should talk very soon. if you look at it from our perspective, we met with the mayor and peter in October of 2011. 18 months later we are no further along in resolving any of the 3 major components of our discussion presented at that time. on the other hand, we have watched the state pass a major funding initiative for a new falcons stadium and that has now gone thru all the proper channels including approval by the city council in 7 short weeks. Not feeling real good about how we are being passed around. just being honest with you and I know I am going to have a real hard time convincing terry [Braves President Terry McGuirk] that the city still sees value in our team just like they did the falcons who economic impact can’t hold a candle to ours.

Hans Utz is Atlanta’s deputy chief operating officer; he’s currently on leave because of some of the things he said in email discussions about the Braves ballpark situation. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has more.

RELATED STORIES: Ted Turner: Preserve Turner Field as green space; New Braves ballpark hits resistance from school district, Tea Party; Could new Braves ballpark be derailed by lawsuit?; New Braves ballpark hits $1B with additional of entertainment district; Gone too soon, or good riddance? Thoughts in Turner Field’s future demolition; Braves to pay $372M toward new ballpark, Cobb County $300M; Turner Field to be torn down in 2017; Braves to leave Turner Field, will build new Cobb County ballpark


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