The Atlanta Braves and Cobb County, Ga., didn't just think they could just agree to build a new publicly subsidized stadium with $300 million of taxpayer money and not rile up the local tea party chapter did they? If they did, they were foolish.
The Atlanta Tea Party Patriots, according to Bloomberg, are planning to file a lawsuit this week that aims to block construction of the new suburban stadium the Braves announced in November and plan to play in come 2017.
The Cobb County Commission previously voted 4-1 to approve funding for the stadium. The stadium would be financed for 30 years through revenue bonds and would be paid back through a number of taxes to things like hotels and rental cars, plus a redistribution of existing property taxes. Local taxpayers had no say because no new taxes were created.
The local tea party chapter, of course, is fuming. They like the deal as much as they like President Obama and Keith Olbermann burning money together at a "Happy Holidays" party.
In the coming days, the Atlanta Tea Party Patriots are expected to file a lawsuit against the Cobb County Board of Commissioners to block construction of the new stadium. The group’s leader, Debbie Dooley, says the deal represents an unconstitutional use of taxpayer money. She also doesn’t like the precedent it could set. “If Cobb County is allowed to get away with this, you can bet other counties will do everything in their power to circumvent a vote by the people for something like this," she said.
There’s another potential precedent here, too. If the Braves are entitled to subsidies, what about other private corporations? Since the deal was announced, the Weather Channel has already demanded tax breaks for its planned expansion in Cobb County. Who's next?
As you know, there are many people who don't like the new Braves stadium deal: the people who live in Atlanta proper and don't want to see their team selling out to the suburbs, the people who think Cobb County has better uses for its public funds and the people who just think the plan is full of holes.
Here's more from Bloomberg columnist Jonathan Mahler:
There’s something for everyone to hate in the Cobb County deal. Thus, Georgia’s Tea Partiers find themselves making common cause with local environmentalists and transportation activists, who warn that the planned stadium -- virtually inaccessible by public transportation -- would dramatically increase traffic and pollution in a region already choking on SUVs. Local education advocates oppose the stadium, too; they’d rather see the money go toward closing the county schools' $80 million deficit and rehiring 182 teachers who’ve been laid off. No wonder the Braves and Cobb County conducted their negotiations in secret.
The man who brokered the deal, Tim Lee, chairman of the county board of commissioners, said the stadium would be an economic boon. He conjured visions of a $400 million development adjacent to the stadium with hotels, retail, restaurants, office space and residences. Yup, it's the old “ballpark village” con. More often than not, these developments fail to materialize. If this one proves the exception, well, then Cobb County will have just what it doesn’t need: a strip mall on steroids.
You think the frugal Atlanta Tea Party Patriots would get so mad that they toss B.J. Upton, the $75 million bust, into a harbor somewhere? That might be a fair compromise, actually.
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