Posted: 1:50 pm Thursday, May 29th, 2014

Schuerholz talks Braves’ move 

By Tom Sabulis

Moderated by Tom Sabulis

The Atlanta Braves are moving to Cobb County, but not without some controversy. Today, we offer comments made May 19 by Braves President John Schuerholz at an AJC Editorial Board meeting, where the team’s executive leadership outlined their vision of the future. In our second column, a Common Cause board member gets to say what he planned to say to the Cobb County Commission earlier this week but could not because stadium supporters had taken all the public comment slots.

A home for the Braves, their fans

By John Schuerholz

(As told to the AJC editorial board)

I’ve been with the the Atlanta Braves quite a few years. I’ve been in baseball 48 years. This project is one of the most exciting ones that I’ve personally had an opportunity to be part of in my years in baseball.

When I was with the Kansas City Royals in 1973, we opened Royals Stadium, and that same year, in July, we hosted the All-Star game. We thought that was a tight timeline. We managed to get that done, and we had the All-Star game without a hitch.

Here, we are faced with something even more exciting. Not only are we building a beautiful new state-of-the-art baseball park, but a mixed-use development as well. And they will come out of the ground simultaneously. That is our plan. That is our goal. We believe that in so doing, we have responded to the best interests of our fans — people from Atlanta, suburban Atlanta (and) the five, six, seven-state region we call Braves Country, who make their way through great effort to come to Braves games.

We believe that in building this complex, it will be to their benefit as well as anything. It will be to ours as well, but principally, it will be to our fans’ benefit. We believe they will find it easier, more comfortable and less stressful to get to our ballpark — to get there earlier and entertain themselves, their families, their guests (and) their neighbors, and to have a pro-active, interested attitude about coming to a Braves baseball game.

Not only that, we are building a destination. This complex will be a destination not only for our fans in Atlanta, but in the five, six, seven-state Southeastern region. We are a regional franchise. That’s a fact. As we move but 12 miles north from our current location to our beautiful new location in Cobb County, we will continue to wear “Atlanta” across our chests, wear the “A” on our hat. We will represent the great city of Atlanta.

We made this decision after many, many years of negotiating with the city. Both sides negotiated very hard, trying to find an opportunity where we could do more things around Turner Field. We got to the point where we knew that wasn’t possible.

We also got to the point on the calendar where we knew we had to move quickly if we were going to plan, design and build a stadium — much less a stadium and a mixed-use development coming out of the ground at the same time. It came to the point where … we had no choice but to make a decision, to advise the mayor that we were going to relocate. We tried as best we could. We gave it our very best effort. In the interim, we knew that we had to find a place. We found a place, fortunately, and it’s a beautiful place.

The responses that I have heard have all been the same: We are delighted about your Cobb County project. We can’t wait for you to open. We are excited about going there. We are excited about buying season tickets. So there is a real positive response.

We’re excited about this. This is really a joyful, stimulating time for us in this organization, and we believe that it will be for the community. We certainly believe that it will be for our fans. We can’t wait for it all to happen, and for Opening Day 2017 to come upon us and to see that what we believed, what we planned, what we hoped for, actually has happened.

John Schuerholz is president of the Atlanta Braves.

What he’d have said, given the chance

By Terry Taylor

First, this is what I understand on the topic of the bond resolution that came before the Cobb County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday:

• The bond resolution is for the bond issuance this summer; there is no question that passing the resolution is a necessary step to move forward on the issuance.

• Asking for an authorization level in excess of what you will believe will be needed helps avoid an issuance problem. If an issuer asks authorization for only the exact amount based on its financial analysis, the issuance could blow up if it turned out to be $1 more than the authorization. A prudent issuer wants to avoid that.

• The really key numbers, I believe, are the net proceeds that go to the stadium project and the debt servicing obligation — and whether these remain within the expectation that (Cobb has) publicly shared. We will know that when Cobb County actually goes to bond market.

Common Cause Georgia’s issue is how the bond resolution details were made public — specifically, that they became available after the close of business Friday before a holiday weekend, the first business day after which the resolution was to be voted on.

Before coming to the Board of Commissioners meeting Tuesday, I Googled the question: “Why are press releases issued on Friday afternoon?” Posting information on a website is similar to a press release, so that’s what I went with.

Here’s the first entry that popped up. It’s from Salon.com: “Investors and journalists have long complained that companies release bad news — a failed product trial, a recall, a Securities & Exchange Commission investigation — on Fridays, particularly after the market closes. The Friday release is a transparent attempt to evade fallout by burying bad news ahead of the weekend.”

I can only imagine what the author would have said about a Friday before a long holiday weekend.

This is Common Cause Georgia’s concern. The public funding portion of the stadium is a subject Cobb citizens are interested in. There are reasonable questions that some may have about what the total dollar commitment is and why numbers have at least the appearance of changing. And it’s also reasonable to believe that the details in the resolution were revealed under the cover of darkness, so to speak.

The better way to do it? Explain things up front, before they hit the paper. The figure of $397 million must have been no surprise to Cobb County Chairman Tim Lee, and I imagine that he may have known the approximate figure well before Friday. Not everyone may understand bond details, and most haven’t worked in the capital markets and know what the conventions are. But the Board of Commissioners would have done its best.

The Tuesday county commission meeting did not allow for public conversation. All the speaking slots were taken by stadium boosters who lined up several hours ahead of time. It’s the same tactic used in earlier meetings to ensure that their voice dominated. That’s nice for them, but many people don’t have the luxury of taking half a day off of work. And even if citizens had a chance to speak, the meeting format did not permit questions and answers.

Common Cause Georgia preferred that the vote be delayed two weeks to let citizens absorb the details and ask questions. To her credit, Commissioner Lisa Cupid clearly preferred that citizens have more time to examine the resolution.

Cobb County’s communications and finance staff have done a fine job answering my questions whenever I ask. They have been friendly, open and helpful, and I have nothing but praise for their professionalism. But Chairman Lee and county commissioners need to get complete and accurate information to the public in enough time to be reviewed and questioned.

Again, Common Cause Georgia doesn’t oppose the stadium or the county’s involvement. Our focus is on transparency and full details. In the future, we’d like to see the Board of Commissioners get in front of the news.

Terry Taylor, a Smyrna resident, is a board member of Common Cause Georgia.

132 comments
ColdSplash
ColdSplash

Downtown is a joke. Downtown leadership is a joke. Marta doesn't go to Cobb you say? Marta doesn't go to Turner Fied! Never has! It's a crime ridden transvestite homeless urine soaked environment and all you ITP fantasy filled robotrons are livid that Braves fans have finally broken out of your forced fed menagerie. Your mayor and corrupt inner city leadership has done nothing because the money has been forced out of fans pockets into his and your pockets to pump into this blight. So so long. This new stadium and development will be beautiful and hugely successful, and will be a shining example of what you and your leadership should have done decades ago. So leave Cobb county , the suburb metro counties (and their enormous taxes and revenues that fund and drive metro Atlanta) and the Braves alone and be happy. You'll be able to continue to wallow in your ITP fantasy you so love. Enjoy! And If you want to see a all game, welcome! C'mon out and see what clean safe famïly friendly fun in an exciting sports environment is all about.

partlycloudy
partlycloudy

I hope they enjoy the cost overruns, the traffic, and the crime.  Shootings in Cobb, murders in Cobb, and rampant burglaries in Cobb.  Wait till the gridlock on 285 shuts down the roads as people head to a game.  The Cobbites didn't want MARTA, so let them stew in the traffic.  

ChristoperWish
ChristoperWish

this team isn't worth the drive to cobb county. i'm happy we have a awesome tv package

Jazzpman
Jazzpman

I guess the Red Sox need to move if they had the Atlanta mentality ! 

Jazzpman
Jazzpman

Well the braves are an embarrassment to Atlanta, let them move to COBB !

MichaelHannigan
MichaelHannigan

No longer (---):

"But for the life of me I can't understand why you would abandon a perfectly good stadium to spend millions of dollars to build another one.."

I feel the same way about the new Falcon's stadium and the GA Dome.

As for the $8.00/hour jobs, don't fret, there are lots of them and you will still be able to get one.

NOlongerRepublican
NOlongerRepublican

What gets me about the whole deal is the money. I really don't care where the Braves play...I don't get to enough games for it to make a difference. But for the life of me I can't understand why you would abandon a perfectly good stadium to spend millions of dollars to build another one...except that the Braves got millions of dollars from tax money so hey...why not? This will not in any way shape or form improve life for the average Joe in Cobb County. Maybe they can get to the game quicker or if they need an $8 an hour job maybe they can work at the ball park. But the people who will benefiting from this are  already millionaires and billionaires and yet using tax dollars in Cobb County that could otherwise go to education or infastructure improvements to make life better for the whole county. Instead only the richer get richer. All those shops around the stadium in the development won't be local mom and pops...they will be big corporations bleeding money from the locals as well. So no one really benefits except those who are getting the handouts from county. Billionaires paying millionaires to hit and a catch a ball for entertainment...that is all it is and the average Joe sees his taxes increased for their enjoyment.

LostGoat
LostGoat

with the cobb county commission in his pocket and those hundreds of millions on the way, john's ready to "speak!"  classic!!!

drew48
drew48

I hear a lot of complaints about the commute from gwinnett county to the new stadium location.

Luckily, you don't have a problem. You can stay within the county and go to the gwinnett braves games. If you don't like it that they are AAA, a step down from the best of the best, don't worry. GA is loaded with people who follow UGA, which is kind of like the same thing.

AvailableName
AvailableName

"We believe that in building this complex, it will be to their benefit as well as anything. It will be to ours as well, but principally, it will be to our fans’ benefit."


And then he left the conference room and laughed and laughed and laughed.


When I grow up, I want a business that gets my neighbors to invest most of the money but agree that I get most of the profits.  

Michael Allen
Michael Allen

It has been years since I attended a Braves game.  I was ripped off in the parking lot.  I told a policeman but he was very, very rude.  Since then I promised myself that I would not go back and I haven't.  I am happy the Braves are moving to Cobb County.  I will now go back to see the Braves once the new stadium is completed. Atlanta does not deserve the Braves.

skeeterN
skeeterN

Well, I know crime wasn't the reason they left Turner field; Franklin Rd has become East Lake of the 80's.

PSWallace
PSWallace

I was a move supporter, though I perfectly understood and sympathized with opponents. "Exceptions prove the rule" was my thought. But...if opponents can't even get a moment to have their say, if this is what American democracy has devolved (or returned) too, if this deal is so corrupt that not even one comment against can be allowed in public hearing lest the entire thing fall, then I cannot support move, Cobb County, or the Braves.

It would have cost only a momentary slight to ego to allow opponents to speak. Too high a price for some, it seems. Such are the times.

GwinnettDad
GwinnettDad

"The responses that I have heard have all been the same: We are delighted about your Cobb County project. We can’t wait for you to open. We are excited about going there. We are excited about buying season tickets. So there is a real positive response."


He must not read the AJC, and who could blame him?


From Gwinnett, I drive to the ballpark westbound in I-20 getting off just before the main artery, park a distance from the park, and hoof it the the stadium.  It is as easy as pie.  The exit is as well, up the main artery northbound.  


Anything around I-75/I-285 is a nightmare - every day, every rush hour, morning and evening.  Why would anyone in their right mind want to drive to Cobb County for a 7:35 PM game.


I'm sorry.  I don't care how nice the stadium is.  Unless you can walk to the stadium, or already live in the Cobb County community, or can come to the stadium from the north. this move is DGL: Disagreeable Geographic Location.

Oakland
Oakland

When the Braves move, it will be he first time since the late 1800s that the City of Atlanta hasn't had a professional baseball team. Nothing last forever. The Cobb Braves won't be Atlanta's team. 30 years from now they will tear down their new stadium and move to Nashville or New Orleans.

MotocrossSurvivor
MotocrossSurvivor

I'd say these commissioners are serving their last terms.  The whole process has been sleazy from the start.  The average Cobb resident will not benefit from this, but will pay for it anyway.

Fradycat
Fradycat

I am so excited for the Braves to get the heck out of the city so we can move forward without them.  The Georiga State south expansion will be so much better for the city and neighborhood.  Instead of 84 days of visitors that dislike everything in the city, (who litter and complain about the litter) there will be 365 days of students, new neighbors and falculty.

Pat_Pending
Pat_Pending

The issue never was about crime at Turner Field other than among a few knuckle-dragging trollers. The issue was that Turner Field remained an island, all but surrounded by interstate highways. The Braves never abandoned downtown Atlanta - this was never a downtown stadium. it is moving from the junction of two interstates to another junction of interstates. The problem was the city's inability to develop the area in any meaningful way. The Braves saw no future on Hank AAron drive.

Baghead
Baghead

John, please fire your underling Frank Wren.  The man is terrible at his job.  With him, you won't be filling many seats in Cobb.  

midwaycva41
midwaycva41

I work in a building across the Interstate from the new stadium site.  Traffic during rush hour on I-285 and I-75 is already difficult.  Fans from DeKalb, Rockdale & Newton on the east and Gwinnett on the northeast will not be going against traffic to Turner Field or using MARTA parking lots and the train/shuttle bus combo.  Instead they will be fighting I-285 westbound or through downtown and up I-75 northbound.  Another 20,000 cars for the Cobb interchange.  No one has seen the required traffic study yet.  Goodness gracious!

Pat_Pending
Pat_Pending

In what way did Mr Sabulis "moderate" the "discussion." What we have are two written statements. Schuerholtz, an accomplished businessman, did not address any issues but rather gushed about how everyone he talks with, loves the idea and can't wait for 2017. Well, no kidding. The Braves have shut out all public discussion.

I say this as an Atlanta resident for nearly 40 years. I fully accept the premise that the City was unable to meet the Braves needs and the move to Còbb makes eminent sense for the Braves. What is not right is the smug refusal of the Braves to even discuss whether it makes sense for the residents and taxpayers of Cobb.

Agile
Agile

I love watching the Braves... from the comfort of my home. 

I have a temp controlled environment, fridge, oven, no driving/parking hassles, save $100.00, and that's if I went to the game myself, a bathroom 10 feet away, a nice big chair. Not worth it to me.  A huge hassle

The DRAW ATTRACTION is overrated....My 2 cents.

cc423
cc423

To suggest that this will remain "Atlanta's" team is totally disingenuous. Supporters did not print up "Cobb Braves" tee shirts for no reason and this County continues to deride the City and treat it like a cesspool as it has for years. This is no longer the Atlanta Braves and those in Cobb County will make sure of that.

Archangel
Archangel

I wonder how many Major league sports presidents take the time to speak to their constituents like this?

ComaToes
ComaToes

@PSWallace  Good post, very observant and perceptive, unlike many others, who are only selfish for obvious reasons.

Archangel
Archangel

@GwinnettDad Your last paragraph explains why they move, you just proved the braves point. The fans that attend the game will "walk to the stadium", "live in the Cobb County community", and "come to the stadium from up north".

JeReSi
JeReSi

@Oakland Maybe when the Braves told the city they needed improvements, the city should have believed them.  The same thing happened in Richmond with the AAA team.  Mayor Douglas Wilder kept playing the Braves, clearly planning to never do anything.  One day the Braves said 'fine' and moved to Gwinnett.  This is exactly the same thing that happened here.  

JeReSi
JeReSi

@MotocrossSurvivor Why do some people feel it's their lot in life to complain about everything?  And these people always seem to think they know more than everybody else.

MichaelHannigan
MichaelHannigan

@midwaycva41 

In all honesty, it's hard to present a compelling argument against what you have just said.  I can vouch for the traffic, directions and time limitations in a "previous life" before I retired.

JeReSi
JeReSi

@midwaycva41 Weeknight games draw less than 20,000 fans.  Unless some of them bring an extra car, I don't think there will be 20,000 additional cars.  And many of the people going to weeknight games would have already been in that traffic.  I think some of you are overreacting to the traffic issue.  And I work in the Cumberland are too, so I know first had what the traffic is like here.

GwinnettDad
GwinnettDad

@midwaycva41 Well done.  If you see my post, I'm from Gwinnett.  The worst commute in Atlanta has been for years to make it from Lawrenceville to Marietta (I know, my ex-wife had to do it for a while; God is harsh sometimes in his punishment).  Now, I'm supposed to volunteer for that?  Uh, no thank you!

Archangel
Archangel

@Pat_Pending Perhaps because Cobb taxpayers aren't the only that are relevant here. It is good for Cobb because they will benefit from increased revenue from an increase of consumers coming into the area. Plus, the Cobb braves fan game attendance will increase.

MichaelHannigan
MichaelHannigan

@cc423 

It will help solidify your argument if you will list the cities that have abandoned their older stadia and moved to the suburbs and have also changed their names to reflect the new environment and location.

GwinnettDad
GwinnettDad

@cc423 The New York Giants and New York Jets play their games in another State.  All this move does is to move one county north.  Cobb is every bit as much Atlanta as Fulton.  Document your assertion of how Cobb treats Fulton not with emotion, but with facts.  Quotes.  Names.  None of us will hold our breath.

GwinnettDad
GwinnettDad

@Archangel Honestly, don't try to suck up to Schuerholz.  Every baseball team first has to manage its PR.  There is nothing unique or admirable or out of the ordinary here.  This is big money, and that's what talks.  The rest is all hooey.

cc423
cc423

@Archangel Actually, he made these comments at the AJC Editorial Board meeting.

ComaToes
ComaToes

@Archangel @GwinnettDad That's strange.  I've always heard that Braves fans come from all over GA and the Southeast.  So they are going to average 20K-25K fans per game, mostly from Cobb CO.?  Dream on!  

BTW, just saw an article last week in the AJC that said the average home game attendance so far this year is down about 3,000 from the same time last year.  Wonder what the reason for that is?  Inferior product?  Silent boycott?  PO'd fans in general?

That amounts to about 246K per year based on 82 home games, and at about $25 per ticket average(just a guess) would be $6,150,000 for the year.  They have to make that up someplace.

GwinnettDad
GwinnettDad

@Archangel @GwinnettDad Evidently.  The Braves aren't stupid.  The assertion, however, by Schuerholz that all the responses to the move have been the same - positive -  is pure bunk.  I like the Braves, but I'm extremely disappointed with Schuerholz for telling one hell of a whopper lie.  Watching them on TV and listening on the radio is my future - I will not travel to Cobb unless somebody pays me to do it.

Archangel
Archangel

@cc423 @Archangel And they printed it without his consent and knowledge right? He had no idea that it would come to us and we would be commenting.

MichaelHannigan
MichaelHannigan

@YogiBare @Archangel @GwinnettDad 

I seem to recall a map that was published in the DJC about the location of Brave's season ticket holders and locations of the average fan's home base.  It did show that the overwhelming majority of fan's (season ticket) did live on the north side, i.e., above the northern perimeter and skewed into Cobb County; that would indicate a continuance of the fan base and, of course, interest in the Braves after the move. 

My only negative is be careful of what Cobb County and the Braves tell you about settling the bond issue and future payments thereof. Gwinnett Countians will be paying for the lost attendance revenue "guaranteed" by a previous air-headed Gwinnett County Commissioner.

JeReSi
JeReSi

@MotocrossSurvivor @JeReSi Because that's not what happened.  Yours is just a knee-jerk reaction. Do you really think you're going to see higher taxes because of the Braves stadium?  I think you mainly just want to complain about something, because people like you always come out of the woodwork when something like this happens.

JeReSi
JeReSi

@YogiBare @cc423 @Archangel This is the government investing tax money in something that will offer a great return to the community.  The Cobb Co. Comm. are heroes for doing the right thing here, despite the criticism they knew they would get.  I'm sorry you're too shortsighted to see that.

ComaToes
ComaToes

@cc423 @Archangel cc,   you're wasting your time here. This is the type poster that thinks everything should be handed to sports fans, just like government entitlements. even if EVERYBODY ends up paying for it.  Doesn't matter to them that it's a private money-making enterprise that could easily be done without them even blinking an eye. People with their heads in the sand just are not in touch with reality. Lots of that going on today.

cc423
cc423

@Archangel @cc423 I am just saying that John Schuerholz is on record saying that if the Braves and Cobb County had made this move public when the actual negotiations were occurring, the public would have not approved this deal. That is very telling and is as far from transparent as you get. 

And yes, "fanbase" is a better term. Have a good evening!

Archangel
Archangel

@cc423 @Archangel It's in the paper where there are fans. If its not the forum then why are you commenting here? 

You're right about my use of constituents. Hows about fanbase?

cc423
cc423

@Archangel @cc423 My point is, that he did not address fans and this was not the forum within which to do that. He also said that if the plans to move had been publicized earlier, that the voters in Cobb would have turned out in droves against it.  You still think that is "speaking to his constituents"? Also, you are using the word constituents wrong.