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Financing Plans Unveiled For Braves Stadium, Cobb Will Not Raise Taxes

By Mike Conti

The Atlanta Braves are on the hook for a much larger portion of funding for their new Cobb County stadium than initially reported, and the county will not raise taxes to cover their share of the bill, according to documents released Thursday.

Cobb County's share of the bill for the new stadium, which will be built near the Cobb Cloverleaf in Smyrna, is $300 million. Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed and several media outlets reported Tuesday that the county's share would be $450 million, something immediately denied by Cobb officials.

County officials also say that property taxes will not be raised to pay for the stadium. They are set to vote on a Memorandum of Understanding with the Braves to finalize financing November 26.

The Braves are responsible for $372 million dollars, or 55 percent of the stadium complex's cost, according to the documents. That includes a $280 million dollar up-front investment.

The documents also paint a clearer picture of how the project will evolve over the next three years, and how bonds for the complex will be paid off over time.

The Braves will hold a thirty year lease on the stadium, plus an additional club option for five years through the 2051 season. Their current lease at Turner Field had a life-span of 20 years.

The club will also have complete control over the design of the ballpark and related mixed-use complex outside the stadium, and is on the hook for any cost over-runs. In exchange, the team has exclusive use of the stadium, aside from a few "special events" held by the county.

Cobb's share of the funding appears to include a $24 million up-front investment, which comes from a County Transportation contribution and $10 million from the Cumberland CID. The county then is set to pay $17.9 million per year over the 30 year course of the deal, which mostly comes from the Cumberland CID, the Cumberland Tax District, and "reallocation of existing revenues."

There have been several other Major League Baseball stadiums built over the last several years using a combination of public and private funds. The Washington Nationals new ballpark was financed entirely by the city of Washington with a public contribution of $693 million. The Miami Marlins new park took $507 million in public funds while the Minnesota Twins got $392 from Hennepin County for Target Field.

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