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Braves ballpark foes debate legal action

Opponents of a new Atlanta Braves ballpark in Cobb County say they are looking at legal action to prevent or delay public bonding on the project.

This isn’t new — basically, the same coalition has been opposing the ballpark since it was announced and had previously looked at a legal challenge to derail county officials from approving public funds for a new Braves ballpark scheduled to replace Turner Field in 2017. But it appears like opponents found a new resolution to oppose the measure based on their treatment at Tuesday’s meeting, where commissioners approved the spending.

The issue will come down to this: did Cobb County officials follow the letter of law in developing and approving $397 million toward a $622-million ballpark? The stakes are high: besides the ballpark, the project also includes plenty of private investment in the area, including a Braves-backed mixed-use development that includes retail, housing, office and a hotel. From WSB:

Now Rich Pellegrino at Citizens for Governmental Transparency says stadium opponents are thinking about taking their case to court. 

“If it takes obstruction of this process of the whole Braves deal to wake up the commissioners, then that’s what we’re going to do,” Pellegrino told WSB’s Pete Combs. 

“Delay could be extremely costly to the entire process,” warned WSB legal analyst Ron Carlson, who said a lawsuit challenging the bonds that will pay for the stadium could cause major delays, forcing the Braves to rethink where they’ll play come 2017.

Cobb County officials were incredibly stupid in not letting the ballpark opponents have their say during Tuesday’s meeting, where seven agreements moving the project forward were approved by commissioners virtually unanimously. Participatory democracy means all viewpoints should be heard, and leaving only 12 public speaking slots — which were quickly snarfed up by ballpark proponents — was an unnecessary snub. (The better route would have been reserving six slots for proponents and six slots for opponents.) But there’s not necessarily a legal argument being made here by opponents: unless we’ve missed something, Cobb County Commissioners have followed the letter of the law in this process (as at least one informed opponent believes), and at the end of the day that’s all the courts will decide.

RELATED STORIES: New Braves ballpark funding approved by Cobb County; Braves: Risk for new ballpark is all ours; New Atlanta Braves ballpark renderings posted; Four bidders emerge on new Braves ballpark construction project; Georgia State: We want Turner Field as football stadium; Developer emerges for new Braves ballpark project; Alliance protests Braves ballpark public funding; Advertising exec: Keep MLB at Turner Field once Braves depart; Populous lands Atlanta Braves ballpark design deal; Designing a new Atlanta Braves ballpark: hitting the road; Braves may ask for state aid on new ballpark; 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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