Groups Plan to Challenge Bond Issuance for Braves Stadium

Jun 26, 2014

Groups and individuals that are part of a government watchdog coalition are planning a court challenge to try and stop the validation of bonds for a new Atlanta Braves Stadium planned for Cobb County. The announcement comes ahead of a court hearing that’s scheduled for July 7. That hearing will determine whether up to $397 million dollars in bonds will be issued to help finance the stadium project.

Members of Citizens for Governmental Transparency say they’ll figure out their legal strategy next week. Rich Pellegrino says individuals and groups within the coalition could submit friend of the court briefs or take other legal action, because they believe the project could negatively affect taxpayers.

Citizens for Governmental Transparency
Credit Michelle Wirth/WABE News

“There are clauses written into this whole bond approval process, or the bond itself,that if the revenues from this project, what we call a boondoggle of a project, do not materialize the taxpayers are on the hook.”

Meanwhile, Braves officials have said they anticipate court challenges and are confident the organization and the county will prevail. This was Braves President John Schuerholz speaking last month at an Atlanta Press Club luncheon.

“Those things happen in big projects, whether they’re lawsuits or unplanned, unforeseen circumstances, you have to just deal with that, and we’re prepared to that.”

In the meantime, Citizens for Governmental Transparency is asking the county commission to create an independent oversight committee. The coalition says the committee would be comprised of county residents who would review and make recommendations on the allocation of public resources for the project. Lance Lamberton is a member of the coalition and president of the Cobb Taxpayers Association

“I currently serve on the SPLOST oversight committee, which oversees hundreds of millions of dollars that are spent on behalf of citizens and taxpayers. This is also a project of that scope. Therefore we also need to have citizen oversight.”

The group is also calling for an overhaul of the county’s ethics board. The move comes after the board dismissed two ethics complaints related to the stadium deal. Cobb County government officials declined to comment.