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It would be difficult to overstate the role the Cobb Chamber, a 2,500-member business organization, played in bringing the Braves to Cobb, whether as public cheerleaders or private decision-makers.
The TV news cameras rolled. The newspaper writers hovered over their laptops. On Tuesday morning, two weeks after being escorted kicking and screaming from the Cobb County Commission chambers, the opposition to the Braves stadium finally was to have its day to address the commissioners. Three dissenters showed up.
Dissenters did not get a chance to weigh in at last night’s Cobb Commission vote on the Braves stadium
Last night’s Cobb County Commission meeting felt more like a Chamber-backed groundbreaking for the new Braves stadium than a public forum. Before the call to order, the room was packed with suits, ties, and a few nametags attached to people talking about business, glad-handing, and passing out cards—the only things missing were the souvenir hard hats and shiny shovels.
If the new Atlanta Braves stadium becomes the economic engine that boosters predict, it would be as likely as seeing Julio Teheran throw a perfect game. Economists say they know of no major league ballparks that justify their public subsidies. "Study after study after study agrees with this finding," said sports economist J.C. Bradbury of Kennesaw State University. "People don’t even study it any more, it’s so non-controversial."
Cobb County commissioners agreed Tuesday to a two-week delay before voting on new zoning rules for keeping backyard chickens. But they wouldn’t postpone a much more contentious decision on $8 million a year in new taxes to subsidize the Atlanta Braves.Opponents objected that new information on who would be taxed to help finance a new stadium for the Braves had only become available this week. Previously released maps of new tax districts, they said, were poorly reproduced and virtually unreadable.
Secrecy helped Cobb County hammer out a deal to lure the Braves from their downtown Atlanta home. That same stealth may have violated Georgia’s Open Meetings Act and, conceivably, cost taxpayers millions of dollars.