- Kathryn Patterson
The Braves Want to Move Where???
Last week, I read an announcement that the Atlanta Braves are building a new stadium in Cobb County. The verbiage on the announcement strongly implied that the new stadium will bring in an abundance of tax money, improve the economic conditions in the immediate area, create several high-paying jobs, and act like a cash cow for the county. All Cobb County needs to do is contribute $300 million towards the construction costs. I am not a baseball fan. I don't have anything against the sport, I just don't find it interesting. So I felt neutral on the idea of a new Braves stadium in Cobb. But the idea of spending $300 million on a private investment? I am not neutral on that. My first thought on the situation was if a sports stadium is such a fantastic money maker, then why would private business want to share in the profit? I know some stadium have done nothing but drain money from the surrounding area. For example, Kings County in Washington is still paying on the King Dome, a structure that was demolished in 2000, but the bonds will not be paid off until 2016. On the other side of the country, New Jersey won't finish paying off the bonds on the now demolished Meadowlands Sports Complex until 2025. Turning to the Internet, I searched for data on the financial ramifications of a stadium on the local economy. I found several studies that looked at several cities over various time spans. But all the studies concluded the same thing. In a best case scenario, a stadium manages to break even over the decades, with no discernible increase on the economic growth in the surrounding community. Yet even in the best case scenario, a sports stadium consumes funds that could be used for more profitable opportunities. In the worst case scenario, the stadium slows down economic growth in the surrounding community, sucks up tax dollars, and leaves the citizens with an enormous bill that requires years to pay off. All in all, I hope the county commissioners vote either no to the stadium, or put up a public referendum. Because I don't want to leave a $226 million legacy that future generations must pay. ($226 million was the amount remaining on the Meadowlands Sport Center in 2010.)