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 8:37 AM EDT, Tue October 28, 2014
Errol Louis says forced to choose between narrow political advantage and the public good, the governors showed they are willing to take the easy way out over Ebola.
updated 2:03 PM EDT, Mon October 27, 2014
Eric Liu says with our family and friends and neighbors, each one of us must decide what kind of civilization we expect in the United States. It's our responsibility to set tone and standards, with our laws and norms
updated 7:45 AM EDT, Mon October 27, 2014
Sally Kohn says the UNC report highlights how some colleges exploit student athletes while offering little in return
updated 3:04 PM EDT, Sun October 26, 2014
Terrorists don't represent Islam, but Muslims must step up efforts to counter some of the bigotry within the world of Islam, says Fareed Zakaria
updated 9:02 AM EDT, Fri October 24, 2014
Scott Yates says extending Daylight Saving Time could save energy, reduce heart attacks and get you more sleep
updated 8:32 PM EDT, Sun October 26, 2014
Reza Aslan says the interplay between beliefs and actions is a lot more complicated than critics of Islam portray
updated 7:19 AM EDT, Mon October 27, 2014
Julian Zelizer says control of the Senate will be decided by a few close contests
updated 8:12 AM EDT, Fri October 24, 2014
The response of some U.S. institutions that should know better to Ebola has been anything but inspiring, writes Idris Ayodeji Bello.
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 12:30 PM EDT, Fri October 24, 2014
The Swedes will find sitting on the fence to be increasingly uncomfortable with Putin as next door neighbor, writes Gary Schmitt
updated 12:32 PM EDT, Fri October 24, 2014
The Ottawa shooting pre-empted Malala's appearances in Canada, but her message to young people needs to be spread, writes Frida Ghitis
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
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT