ATLANTA — Mayor Kasim Reed met Wednesday with Atlanta Braves executives to discuss next steps following the team’s decision to leave downtown and build a new $672 million stadium in nearby Cobb County, according to Gov. Nathan Deal.
Deal told reporters that Reed had requested a brief meeting at the Capitol to discuss the transition and there was no indication that Atlanta plans to fight the move. A day earlier, Reed had said the city couldn’t compete with the generous public financing offered to the team by Cobb County officials.
“He asked me if I would get them to come and meet with him very briefly and that is what I did,” Deal said, adding he’s just happy the Braves are staying in Georgia.
When asked whether he thought the city should fight to keep the Braves, Deal said he had no opinion. “I don’t want to get into a fight between one county versus another county,” the governor said.
Carlos Campos, a spokesman for the mayor, declined to comment.
Deal did say he was “sort of taken by surprise” by the news that the Braves would be leaving Turner Field and moving about 10 miles north of downtown. The team made the announcement Monday.
In defending his decision, the mayor argued the Braves deal was much different than the city’s high-profile effort to secure a new $1.2 billion, retractable-roof stadium for the Atlanta Falcons. Reed argued the Falcons deal was tied to a dedicated revenue stream that calls for using the city’s hotel/motel tax for improvements to state-owned property used for the NFL stadium.
Reed said there was no such funding mechanism for the Braves and any money would have eliminated the city’s reserves and forced it to take on significant debt.
Key details of the new stadium deal remain unknown. Reed has said he was informed during a meeting with the team that the deal includes up to $450 million in public financing, but that has been disputed by the Braves.
Cobb County appears to have at least three possible financing options available that would not involve raising taxes on local residents, including its hotel/motel tax which brought in $10 million in revenue last year, a community improvement district that pools money from area businesses for infrastructure projects and a budget surplus. But it remains to be seen whether that will carry the full portion of the public contribution.
The proposal does include options for commercial development, including restaurants, retail, hotel and entertainment facilities that would surround the stadium and would also boost revenues. Details on the public funding are expected to be released in coming weeks.
The new stadium deal does not currently involve any state money or state property. The governor said there was a possibility the state could be called upon to assist in work to address transportation and infrastructure needs associated with the new stadium, which will be located near the busy interchange of Interstates 75 and 285. But Deal said, at this point, no plans or requests have been made.