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Criticism Over Special Parking Arrangements for New Atlanta Braves Stadium
In February, Cobb County commissioners "quietly passed an ordinance that outlaws property owners within a half-mile of the stadium from charging for parking during games and other special events at the stadium," according to an article by Dan Klepal.
"The ordinance closes off potential revenue for dozens of businesses that own more than 10,000 private spaces — many of which could compete with the team for parking revenue," adds Klepal.
The stadium, which will open next year with the name SunTrust Park, relies on $400 million in funding from Cobb County taxpayers, but the funding hasn't earned much transparency or broader economic development opportunities in return. In fact, writes Klepal, "[f]or thousands of fans, the restriction could mean fewer parking options on game days, making it less convenient or more expensive to go to a stadium with no direct MARTA access." What's more: "The full impact isn’t known because the Braves haven’t yet released their own parking plan."
Dave McKenna followed up on Klepal's reporting, adding an additional case study of a similar use of the lobbying power of professional sports teams to influence land use regulations: the NFL team playing in Washington, D.C. also used a public relations strategy that claims public safety necessity, rather than economic benefit, to explain the need to control parking operations.