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.
“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?
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.