The city released hundreds of emails about the Braves move. Here’s the one you need to read

The documents reveal months of escalating tension between the team and City Hall.


Christmas came early for Atlanta journalists today when the mayor’s office responded to Open Records requests by releasing hundreds of emails between City Hall and the Atlanta Braves. It will take days — if not weeks — to analyze all the information, but a cursory read reveals the escalating tension between the team and the mayor’s office when the Braves lease talks stalled at the same time that the Falcons stadium deal seemed to breeze through.

But, here’s one email we found especially telling. It was sent back in March and encapsulates both the Braves’ frustration and the tension between Hans Utz, deputy chief operating officer, and Mike Plant, the Braves operations director. The email was forwarded by Utz with the comment “this probably requires some love from you” to his boss, Duriya Farooqui (who must be ecstatic that her departure from the mayor’s office for a job with Bain & Company was announced last week).

From: Plant, Mike
Sent: Wednesday, March 20, 2013 2:51 PM
To: Utz, Hans J.

Hans, just got the call from Brianna that the mtg has been cancelled. Again. have to be honest with you Hans, that sends a very bad message that I now have to pass on to our chairman who I briefed yesterday on the current status and upcoming discussion. I think you and I should talk very soon. if you look at it from our perspective, we met with the mayor and peter in October of 2011. 18 months later we are no further along in resolving any of the 3 major components of our discussion presented at that time. on the other hand, we have watched the state pass a major funding initiative for a new falcons stadium and that has now gone thru all the proper channels including approval by the city council in 7 short weeks. Not feeling real good about how we are being passed around. just being honest with you and I know I am going to have a real hard time convincing terry [Braves President Terry McGuirk] that the city still sees value in our team just like they did the falcons who economic impact can’t hold a candle to ours.

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  • moliere

    So the Braves took all their toys and ran away crying because the city liked the Falcons better than them? Yeah, that’s real mature!

    Seriously, accommodating the Braves would have taken hundreds of millions that the city/county simply does not have. Everyone seems to try to do their best to ignore this, BUT THE FALCONS STADIUM IS NOT COMING FROM A CITY REVENUE SOURCE. It is coming from the GWCCA hotel/motel tax WHICH IS CONTROLLED BY THE STATE AND CANNOT BE USED FOR ANYTHING ELSE. So if the city had to give hundreds of millions of its own dollars to keep the Falcons, they would have lost them too in addition to the Braves. So, the Braves just did what tons of other pro sports franchises have done and found someone else willing to empty the taxpayer treasury for them in Cobb County.

    And why does Cobb County have all this money to give the Braves? Simple: because they aren’t paying for vital regional institutions like Grady and Atlanta Medical (the only indigent care/level 1 trauma hospitals in the entire 28 county metro area), MARTA, Hartsfield etc. Yes, the Braves generate more money than the Falcons, but again it is an issue of spending $300 million (at least) to pacify the Braves versus getting a Falcons’ stadium for a fraction of the actual cost to the city. But it comes down to the city having a $1 billion infrastructure backlog AND the Beltline to deal with, and that money couldn’t be diverted to keeping the Braves happy.

    To put it another way: which will generate more revenue and jobs for Atlanta, keeping the Braves or making Hartsfield as big a powerhouse in moving freight as it is in moving passengers? Well, Procter and Gamble expanding their distribution and warehouse capacity by 600,000 square feet near the airport should be your answer.

    The city and the Braves were not able to meet each other’s needs anymore so an amicable split is in everyone’s best interests. So best of luck Marietta Braves in Cobb County. Just please tell your fans and the residents of your new home to quit bashing the city and its leaders while you are on the way out. And don’t worry about turning out the lights. That old house is going to be demolished to build something that will actually benefit the folks who live in the city, especially those in the surrounding area.

    Leadership requires tough decisions, not trying to please everyone, and the Braves, the city and Cobb County all stepped up and did what was best for themselves. That is a good thing, not a bad one.

    • Baker

      @Moliere: The hotel/motel tax could’ve been adjusted to include the Braves if anyone had had the forethought. And if you don’t think the city is going to shell out a couple hundred million for infrastructure and property acquisition, you’re not paying attention.

      The economic impact of the Braves is double the Falcons and Hawks combined. We’re coming out on the far short end of the stick.

      I think any taxes going to a professional sports team is an abomination, but the facts I listed above would indicate the mayor’s office miscalculated a smidge here.

    • Tina Trent

      One thing — Grady is most certainly supported by the taxpayers of Cobb County, and elsewhere, through multiple funding streams — including educational/research/medicaid/medicare.

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  • Doug Bulleit

    This may be the saddest chapter in Atlanta’s recent history of ultra-weak leadership. The question now is what id REALLY to become of the area around Turner Field. See