On Braves Move, Reed Says Atlanta Couldn't Match Cobb Offer, Stresses Regionalism
The Atlanta Braves stunned many yesterday after announcing a deal to relocate to Cobb County.
At a morning press conference, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed said Cobb offered “one of the best deals in America” - a stadium, he said, that would be 65 percent funded by public dollars. Reed said the city ultimately couldn’t match the offer.
“If we had made a different decision, every single dollar for everything else would have gone to fund and modernize the stadium. Now I’m not saying that I wasn’t willing to help, but I don’t think that’s the better deal for the city of Atlanta,” said Reed.
He added: “Four hundred and fifty million dollars in public funding is a pretty good deal. We can’t spend money that liberally in the city of Atlanta. We are fiscal conservatives here."
He congratulated Cobb officials for making such a strong offer.
“I’m as competitive as anybody else, but Cobb presented them a terrific offer and I’m not going to play this Atlanta versus Cobb game. I believe in the region so we’ve got to make a decision, either we’re going to be a region or we’re not.”
Reed dismissed the idea the city should have focused more attention and money on keeping the Braves, rather than the Atlanta Falcons. He said whereas the Falcons have an existing public funding mechanism in the hotel-motel tax, no such revenue stream exists for the Braves.
“The Falcons deal and the Braves deal are nothing alike. Nothing alike,” said Reed. “One horse is paid for by 84 percent of the visitors who come in town. The other horse was going to be paid for by us and the 430,000 people who live in Atlanta so we didn’t bet on the wrong horse.”
Reed vowed to redevelop the Turner Field area into a vibrant neighborhood for the middle class.
“I think that we're going to be able to make a pretty significant announcement about the development of a 60-acre tract at a time when East Atlanta is absolutely exploding and doing well, at a time when we need to make sure that there's a place for middle class families to live," said Reed. "I guarantee that we’re not going to leave a vacant Ted (Turner Field).”
Still, several city councilmembers including finance chair Felicia Moore are expressing frustration over being left out of the negotiating process.
“The legislative branch was not consulted. Right now, he's made the sole unilateral decision that it's not in the best interest of the city and so I’m looking forward to some answers,” said Moore.
Some councilmembers say they aren’t giving up on a possible deal to keep the Braves in the city and say a task force will be created within the next 24-48 hours to come up with an alternative plan.