No More Taxpayer-Funded Stadiums

Taxpayers in Cobb County, Georgia could be on the hook for as much as $450 million in incentive money associated with a new Atlanta Braves’ baseball stadium. The Braves are bolting downtown Atlanta because the city was unwilling to pony up more than $250 million in public money toward renovations…

Taxpayers in Cobb County, Georgia could be on the hook for as much as $450 million in incentive money associated with a new Atlanta Braves’ baseball stadium.

The Braves are bolting downtown Atlanta because the city was unwilling to pony up more than $250 million in public money toward renovations at Turner Field (after blowing $200 million in taxpayer funds on a new stadium for the 4-10 Atlanta Falcons).

Cobb County didn’t even hold a referendum on the expenditure – they approved it via a 4-1 vote of County Council (the lone dissenter just so happened to be the only black Democrat on the council).  Oh, and like most “economic development” deals the negotiations were conducted in secret.

Crazy, huh?

“Business as usual: When isn’t a highly profitable professional sports team bamboozling a local government into spending millions in tax dollars on a new stadium?” Bloomberg’s Jonathan Mahler wrote.

He’s right.  The Cobb County debacle is business as usual … the latest example of uber-wealthy professional sports owners forcing taxpayers (many of whom will never be able to afford a ticket to their gleaming stadiums) to subsidize their construction.

And in this case taxpayers didn’t even get the right to vote on the issue …

This insanity has to stop.  Local governments across America are constantly bitching and moaning about their inability to perform core functions of government (catching crooks, fighting fires, maintaining roads and bridges, etc.), yet they shell out hundreds of millions of dollars for new sports stadiums?

No …

If team owners (and the businesses which stand to profit from a team’s continued presence/ relocation) want a new or upgraded stadium – they should pay for it themselves.


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CorruptionInColumbia December 18, 2013 at 2:13 pm

Totally unnecessary and NOT a function of government, period. Lexington County council has a similar sports fetish. They spent tons of money on a tennis complex some years back that the residents of the area did not want. Now they are looking to spend million$ more on sports facilities, all the while crying how they need to jack up sales taxes by another penny on the dollar. People are being nickel and dimed to death by these scurvy bastards such as Bill Banning, Johnny Jeffcoat, and Debbie Summers, who never met a tax increase or a new law or ordinance they didn’t like.

Torch December 19, 2013 at 10:27 am

Where would that be? The Tennis complex on Oak Grove is packed almost every night. Hosted a southeastern tournament and has multiple local tournaments during the year. Complex has youth programs that benefit the area. It is in use year round.

euwe max December 18, 2013 at 2:38 pm

I’d like to see the tally sheet. If it pays for itself, it’s ok.

But if they just write down “increased hotel and restaurant revenue” I’m not convinced.

Greenville comes to Cola December 18, 2013 at 3:28 pm

Then the same government should loan me $250,000,000 to kick off my business. I can provide a tally sheet. It should pay the taxpayers a return. But, then government would become a business and things get murky from there.
Any time I hear public/private partnership I think of Bob Hughes and Knox White. Columbia is about to see what that means firsthand over the next 20 years and that is why those guys love Maya T-Bone. He is open for Bid-ness.

euwe max December 18, 2013 at 3:48 pm

If the state(or city) can bring in revenue (a big if) that exceeds the cost (by a substantial amount) of attracting it, while providing a benefit to the people of that state(or city), it’s gone a long way to persuading me that it’s worth the investment.

Otherwise, it’s just another way for politicians to skim tax money off into their relative’s pockets. I don’t care if they steal, as long as they give a reasonable return on my investment. I mean, capitalism doesn’t expect saints, but sinners who are regulated to the point of benefit to the state.

I don’t like sports, but that doesn’t mean I can’t figure out from a spreadsheet of pertinent facts, examined by multiple relatively non-biased objective experts (peer review), whether it makes sense, or is just another way to do to us what GM did to Detroit.

Murky bid-ness December 18, 2013 at 4:52 pm

I hear you boss but here is where the problem comes in. When that $250 million stadium becomes obsolete and the team must move yet again who gets it? Who has to maintain it? Those questions are always answered with projections. In my experience they get caught up is questionable development deals where the gov’t officials make it look like some cat is doing everybody a favor by taking it off the government’s books. Murky murky murky.

CNSYD December 18, 2013 at 2:43 pm

Including at public colleges and universities?

easterndumbfuckastan December 18, 2013 at 3:09 pm

I would like to see the balance sheet on these deals and the local governments that finance them. I can see where this could very well provide a benefit to the local community beyond just the sports team and it’s fans. Increased hotel, restaurant and bar revenue should improve the local economy and put additional monies in the the public coffers without requiring increased property taxes, etc. There are other intangible benefits such as being able to draw more concerts, etc. (which Columbia can no longer do because the U of SC is so stingy with Williams-Brice and the Colonial Center). It also provides an oportunity for a community to present itself in a positive light for the rest of the world, which should lead to increased tourism and economic development. The midlands lose out on several large companies each year due to “lack of cultural activities” .
With all that being said, I still have mixed feeling about this, because most of these “public-private partnerships” are horribly mismanaged, never meet expectations and aren’t used in the best interest of their communities.

Cooter December 18, 2013 at 3:35 pm

They should have never cracked down on the Cockfights. Talk about culture…

Foghorn Leghorn December 18, 2013 at 4:53 pm

I say I say son ,,,,no self-respecting Sakarlinian down votes a good cockfight.. Come now boy.

Esquire means landowner December 18, 2013 at 3:33 pm

We have reached a point where county council can dictate to a property owner / developer what color his roof must be. They are telling us how many parking spaces we must provide and where they must be and how many trees of what height and diameter must be planted. However, there is always a clause where they allow themselves discretion to allow leeway and variances at will. Couple that with the enormous property taxes and it becomes very clear very soon that we do not live in a free country.

fred January 8, 2014 at 11:48 am

This is exactly what is happening in Aiken County and North Augusta. Additional there is another elephant the room , that being the expansion of Hitchcock Parkway. More bonds and more debt. Fred Cavanaugh, mayor of Aiken along with his pal Ronnie Young Aiken County “Number one guy”. Just keep spending-spending and spending, while not listening to the taxpayers. It’s all about ego and power. In the real world these clowns are a couple jokers and light-weights.

EJB December 18, 2013 at 4:04 pm

Not only did Atlanta blow a boatload of money on the old Braves stadium they then set about ruining the whole thing with all their stupid development ideas for the surrounding area. This link is to a story by Neal Boortz about that. Even if you dislike Mr. Boortz read the facts about the local government interference.


I have seen similar things happen in other places, most notable; Fort Myers, Florida. They spent a bunch of money ($25M+) building a new spring training facility for a major league baseball team (can’t remember the team) near downtown (there is another facility built by the county for a different team on the outskirts of Ft. Myers). The stadium is abandoned, crime went through the roof around that area and that area is run down, worse than before the stadium was built. There is NO justification for governments building ANY kind of sports facility and the studies that are produced showing how the local economy gets “a shot in the arm” are complete daydreaming BS.

Manray December 18, 2013 at 5:00 pm

So the Braves will move to Cobb County? The $670 million project will include approx $400 million in public money — not counting the infrastructure impact to an area without public transportation and with an already over-burdened road system. Some interesting facts: Cobb County is a hotbed of the Republican Party — the home and former congressional district of Newt Gingrich. Four of the five county commissioners are Republicans. These representatives of the party of “fiscal responsibility” rolled over pretty easily for the deal – and had it in place within three weeks of it becoming public and without a referendum.

Funny about Republicans, they detest government spending on food stamps, environmental protection, regulatory initiatives, medical research, health insurance or the unemployed — but they certainly love corporate welfare schemes.

Why do people hold politicians in such contempt? It’s simple – hypocrisy.

ray banduchi December 18, 2013 at 6:54 pm

same is true for the poor citizenry of north augusta, whose spend happy mayor & city council are forcing a ball field & convention complex (?) there. a convention in north augusta?

Thomas December 18, 2013 at 9:46 pm

Stadiums and parking garages are easy big bucks, if you have the right connections. See Bull Street stadium and parking garages.

opengovernmentup December 19, 2013 at 11:22 am

When Aiken County realizes the county council has sold them down the river, I hope they vote off the board everyone that voted for the mistake in North Augusta.

Heidi Castellano January 7, 2014 at 11:49 pm

You can keep dreaming on that one. It’s as old as time.


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