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Doubts Over Development Benefits of New Atlanta Braves Stadium

The Atlanta Braves are planning a new stadium, opening in 2017, in suburban Cobb County. How much residual development investment should local stakeholders expect?
January 30, 2014, 9am PST | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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The taxpayers of Cobb County will pay $300 million to help finance a new baseball stadium for the Atlanta Braves, but the hope is that the investment will return more than regular attendance to games. “Supporters of a new Atlanta Braves stadium in Cobb County say it will be an economic home run, the centerpiece of a massive mixed-use entertainment district…”

To examine the claim that the new stadium will be an economic boom for Cobb County, Dan Klepal and David Wickert examine a related suburban case study provided by the team’s AAA affiliate, which promised similar development benefits when building a stadium in Lawrenceville, Gwinnett County, in 2009.

“Nearly five years after it opened, Coolray Field still isn’t generating enough revenue to pay for itself, as county officials said it would. Plans for development at the stadium have become ensnared in litigation and, for the most part, haven’t materialized. And attendance at Gwinnett Braves games is among the worst in the International League.”

In addition to the minor leagues being a far cry from the big leagues, there are reasons to expect better results from the Cobb County stadium: “the Braves will own the property around the stadium and will have a vested interest in developing it.”

The Braves also announced this week that they are negotiating a contract with Populous, designer of 19 of the 30 current major league stadiums, to design the new $672 million stadium.

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Published on Saturday, January 25, 2014 in Atlanta Journal-Constitution
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