Skip to main content

Atlanta mayor: Cost too high to keep Braves

By Kasim Reed
updated 2:39 PM EST, Wed November 13, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Atlanta was hoping to keep the Braves downtown as Turner Field lease nears expiration
  • Kasim Reed: But Cobb County made an offer Braves couldn't refuse
  • Reed: Turner Field needs up to $250 million in repairs; money could go to city infrastructure
  • Reed: Atlanta is backing a new Falcons stadium, but it's getting funded largely by hotel tax

Editor's note: Kasim Reed, the 59th mayor of Atlanta, was recently re-elected to a second term.

(CNN) -- As a young boy, I loved watching the Atlanta Braves. I can recall countless historic moments over the course of their 47-year history in the city. It was in Atlanta that the Braves won an unprecedented 14 division championships from 1991 to 2005. It was in Atlanta that Hall of Famer Hank Aaron hit his record-breaking home run in 1974. It was in Atlanta that the Braves won a World Series championship in 1995. There is no doubt that the Braves belong to Atlanta.

For 18 months, my administration has been involved in good-faith discussions to keep the Braves in downtown Atlanta as their lease at Turner Field nears expiration. On Monday, the Atlanta Braves organization announced its intention to relocate to Cobb County -- in a new stadium. Our partners in Cobb County will provide $450 million in public funding to build the new $672 million stadium, we're told. We are simply unwilling to match that with taxpayer dollars.

Kasim Reed
Kasim Reed

On my inauguration into office in January 2010, I made a promise to strengthen our city's finances and tackle our looming $922 million infrastructure backlog. Over the last four years, we have balanced four consecutive budgets without property tax increases, built our cash reserves to more than $125 million and improved our bond ratings across the spectrum in every fund.

Price too steep to keep Braves in city limits

Over the next four years, I am committed to making $200 million to $250 million in infrastructure investments in our neighborhoods.

Professional sports teams and stadiums drive economic development and investment in their communities, but taxpayer dollars need to be spent responsibly. My decision not to invest $150 million to $250 million for renovations to Turner Field or interfere with a transaction when the Atlanta Braves are moving 12 miles away means that Atlanta is going to be stronger financially and not choked by debt. This decision also means critical investments in our city's infrastructure -- on bridges, green spaces, roads and traffic lights.

The Atlanta Braves baseball team is leaving Turner Field to a stadium expected to be built in Cobb County.
The Atlanta Braves baseball team is leaving Turner Field to a stadium expected to be built in Cobb County.

For many years, the Falcons and the Braves have been fixtures in our city's downtown. There will be a new stadium for the Atlanta Falcons -- but there are meaningful differences between our efforts to keep the Falcons in the city and the Braves' decision to relocate to Cobb County.

The agreement to keep the Falcons involved an existing revenue stream from a hotel-motel tax paid largely by the 42 million guests who visit our city every year -- lessening the burden to taxpayers.

The hotel-motel tax, which would be extended only to fund and maintain the Falcons stadium, also generates significant direct revenue to the city's general fund. In the case of the Braves, no identifiable revenue stream exists that would allow us to pay for a commitment of $450 million or even $250 million responsibly.

The Falcons stadium is expected to cost $1 billion, and that kind of transaction is tough. But we negotiated a favorable agreement for the city with 80% private funding and 20% public funding for the new facility.

So we wish the Braves well knowing the city of Atlanta has much to be proud of.

Over the last four years, business relocations have included the Coca-Cola Co.'s decision to move 2,000 jobs back into the city, Porsche Cars North America moving its North American headquarters into the city, and Pulte Homes relocating its corporate headquarters to Atlanta from Michigan. The city of Atlanta is vibrant and thriving, and we're just getting started.

When the Braves leave the city of Atlanta in 2017, Turner Field will be demolished. Over the next three years, we will be working with our prospective partners to bring residential and business development that is worthy of our city and strengthens our downtown. The Braves will remain in the Atlanta metropolitan region, and I look forward to going to the opening day game in 2017.

Follow us @CNNOpinion on Twitter.

Join us at Facebook/CNNOpinion.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Kasim Reed.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 5:01 PM EDT, Wed October 22, 2014
Paul Callan says the grand jury is the right process to use to decide if charges should be brought against the police officer
updated 12:19 PM EDT, Thu October 23, 2014
Theresa Brown says the Ebola crisis brought nurses into the national conversation on health care. They need to stay there.
updated 6:35 PM EDT, Tue October 21, 2014
Patrick Hornbeck says don't buy the hype: The arguments the Vatican used in its interim report would have virtually guaranteed that same-sex couples remained second class citizens
updated 9:48 PM EDT, Sat October 25, 2014
Paul Begala says Iowa's U.S. Senate candidate, Joni Ernst, told NRA she has right to use gun to defend herself--even from the government. But shooting at officials is not what the Founders had in mind
updated 6:08 PM EDT, Thu October 23, 2014
John Sutter: Why are we so surprised the head of a major international corporation learned another language?
updated 5:54 PM EDT, Thu October 23, 2014
Jason Johnson says Ferguson isn't a downtrodden community rising up against the white oppressor, but it is looking for justice
updated 12:21 PM EDT, Fri October 24, 2014
Sally Kohn says a video of little girls dressed as princesses using the F-word very loudly to condemn sexism is provocative. But is it exploitative?
updated 4:06 PM EDT, Tue October 21, 2014
Timothy Stanley says Lewinsky is shamelessly playing the victim in her affair with Bill Clinton, humiliating Hillary Clinton again and aiding her critics
updated 10:14 AM EDT, Thu October 23, 2014
Imagine being rescued from modern slavery, only to be charged with a crime, writes John Sutter
updated 12:00 PM EDT, Tue October 21, 2014
Tidal flooding used to be a relatively rare occurrence along the East Coast. Not anymore, write Melanie Fitzpatrick and Erika Spanger-Siegfried.
updated 7:35 AM EDT, Tue October 21, 2014
Carol Costello says activists, writers, politicians have begun discussing their abortions. But will that new approach make a difference on an old battleground?
updated 9:12 AM EDT, Tue October 21, 2014
Sigrid Fry-Revere says the National Organ Transplant Act has caused more Americans to die waiting for an organ than died in both World Wars, Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq
updated 2:51 PM EDT, Tue October 21, 2014
Crystal Wright says racist remarks like those made by black Republican actress Stacey Dash do nothing to get blacks to join the GOP
updated 6:07 PM EDT, Tue October 21, 2014
Mel Robbins says by telling her story, Monica Lewinsky offers a lesson in confronting humiliating mistakes while keeping her head held high
updated 9:29 AM EDT, Mon October 20, 2014
Cornell Belcher says the story of the "tea party wave" in 2010 was bogus; it was an election determined by ebbing Democratic turnout
updated 4:12 PM EDT, Mon October 20, 2014
Les Abend says pilots want protocols, preparation and checklists for all contingencies; at the moment, controlling a deadly disease is out of their comfort zone
updated 11:36 PM EDT, Sun October 19, 2014
David Weinberger says an online controversy that snowballed from a misogynist attack by gamers into a culture war is a preview of the way news is handled in a world of hashtag-fueled scandal
updated 8:23 AM EDT, Mon October 20, 2014
Julian Zelizer says Paul Krugman makes some good points in his defense of President Obama but is premature in calling him one of the most successful presidents.
updated 10:21 PM EDT, Sun October 19, 2014
Conservatives can't bash and slash government and then suddenly act surprised if government isn't there when we need it, writes Sally Kohn
updated 8:05 AM EDT, Wed October 22, 2014
ISIS is looking to take over a good chunk of the Middle East -- if not the entire Muslim world, write Peter Bergen and Emily Schneider.
updated 9:00 AM EDT, Mon October 20, 2014
The world's response to Ebola is its own sort of tragedy, writes John Sutter
updated 4:33 PM EDT, Fri October 17, 2014
Hidden away in Russian orphanages are thousands of children with disabilities who aren't orphans, whose harmful treatment has long been hidden from public view, writes Andrea Mazzarino
updated 1:22 PM EDT, Sat October 18, 2014
When you hear "trick or treat" this year, think "nudge," writes John Bare
updated 12:42 AM EDT, Sat October 18, 2014
The more than 200 kidnapped Nigerian schoolgirls have become pawns in a larger drama, writes Richard Joseph.
updated 9:45 AM EDT, Fri October 17, 2014
Peggy Drexler said Amal Alamuddin was accused of buying into the patriarchy when she changed her name to Clooney. But that was her choice.
updated 4:43 PM EDT, Thu October 16, 2014
Ford Vox says the CDC's Thomas Frieden is a good man with a stellar resume who has shown he lacks the unique talents and vision needed to confront the Ebola crisis
updated 4:58 AM EDT, Sat October 18, 2014
How can such a numerically small force as ISIS take control of vast swathes of Syria and Iraq?
updated 9:42 AM EDT, Fri October 17, 2014
How big a threat do foreign fighters in Syria and Iraq pose to the West? It's a question that has been much on the mind of policymakers and commentators.
updated 8:21 AM EDT, Fri October 17, 2014
More than a quarter-million American women served honorably in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Now they are home, we have an obligation to help them transition back to civilian life.
updated 4:27 PM EDT, Thu October 16, 2014
Paul Begala says Rick Scott's deeply weird refusal to begin a debate because rival Charlie Crist had a fan under his podium spells disaster for the Florida governor--delighting Crist
updated 12:07 AM EDT, Thu October 16, 2014
The longer we wait to engage on Ebola, the more limited our options will become, says Marco Rubio.
updated 7:53 AM EDT, Wed October 15, 2014
Democratic candidates who run from President Obama in red states where he is unpopular are making a big mistake, says Donna Brazile
updated 12:29 AM EDT, Thu October 16, 2014
At some 7 billion people, the world can sometimes seem like a crowded place. But if the latest estimates are to be believed, then in less than a century it is going to feel even more so -- about 50% more crowded, says Evan Fraser
updated 12:53 PM EDT, Mon October 20, 2014
Paul Callan says the Ebola situation is pointing up the need for better leadership
updated 6:45 PM EDT, Wed October 15, 2014
Nurses are the unsung heroes of the Ebola outbreak. Yet, there are troubling signs we're failing them, says John Sutter
updated 1:00 PM EDT, Wed October 15, 2014
Dean Obeidallah says it's a mistake to give up a business name you've invested energy in, just because of a new terrorist group
updated 7:01 PM EDT, Wed October 15, 2014
Fear of Ebola is contagious, writes Mel Robbins; but it's time to put the disease in perspective
updated 1:44 PM EDT, Tue October 14, 2014
Oliver Kershaw says that if Big Tobacco is given monopoly of e-cigarette products, public health will suffer.
updated 9:35 AM EDT, Sat October 18, 2014
Stop thinking your job will make you happy.
updated 10:08 PM EDT, Tue October 14, 2014
Ruben Navarrette says it's time to deal with another scandal involving the Secret Service — one that leads directly into the White House.
updated 7:25 AM EDT, Tue October 14, 2014
Americans who choose to fight for militant groups or support them are young and likely to be active in jihadist social media, says Peter Bergen
updated 9:03 AM EDT, Mon October 13, 2014
Stephanie Coontz says 11 years ago only one state allowed same sex marriage. Soon, some 60% of Americans will live where gays can marry. How did attitudes change so quickly?
updated 4:04 PM EDT, Tue October 14, 2014
Legalizing assisted suicide seems acceptable when focusing on individuals. But such laws would put many at risk of immense harm, writes Marilyn Golden.
updated 9:07 AM EDT, Mon October 13, 2014
Julian Zelizer says the issues are huge, but both parties are wrestling with problems that alienate voters
updated 6:50 PM EDT, Mon October 13, 2014
Mel Robbins says the town's school chief was right to cancel the season, but that's just the beginning of what needs to be done
updated 11:43 AM EDT, Sat October 11, 2014
He didn't discover that the world was round, David Perry writes. So what did he do?
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT