An alliance of 12 groups is protesting Cobb County spending on a new Atlanta Braves ballpark, arguing commissioners have not been open about where taxpayer money is committed to the project.
The Atlanta Braves plan a new 2017 Cobb County ballpark and will be financing most of the project on their own. Cobb County has committed to $300 million on the project, mostly for infrastructure spending. The deal certainly came together quickly: while there were rumblings the Braves were considering a move from Turner Field when the team’s lease ended in 2016, it was a surprise when the team announced its game plan, with enough Cobb County commissioners on board to make it happen.
The ballpark deal certainly was presented as a fait accompli: a majority of commissioners were committed to the project before it was presented to the full board. That’s raised concerns among some Cobb County taxpayers, who criticized this approach and want to see exactly where taxpayer money is going. From USA Today:
“We don’t feel that it’s a done deal,” said Richard Pellegrino, a member of the Citizens for Governmental Transparency, a strange-bedfellows coalition of 12 groups ranging from the Tea Party to the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. “I think the Braves coming here is a done deal. What’s not a done deal is the $300 million investment.
“There are a lot of hurdles still,” he said. “There are legal hurdles, ethical hurdles. What we want is transparency, accountability and fiduciary responsibility from our elected officials.”
He and others in the coalition say that the five-member Cobb County Commission approved the Braves’ move and public investment in the new stadium without adequate public comment and objective feasibility studies. They insist that not all members of their coalition oppose the Braves’ move, slated for 2017, but say they all want the process made more transparent — and slowed down.
It’s hard to say whether these groups have the political muscle to alter the process: There were fewer than 50 citizens (as well as several politicians) at a town hall meeting last night devoted to the topic.
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