Braves going back on promises as they seek more tax-payer dollars from Cobb citizens?
Webster’s dictionary defines the word ‘renege’ as a verb meaning to go back on a promise, undertaking, or contract. Corporate welfare is a phrase used to describe a government’s bestowal of money grants, tax breaks, or other special favorable treatment for corporations.
These words and more are on the minds of Cobb citizens after recent news reports that the Atlanta Braves and Truist park are asking for more public help.
Many say the Braves and Truist are reneging on a decade-old promise to Cobb citizens not to come back to the public trough for more money. Most people in Cobb recall the ruckus supporting the Braves caused in Cobb. Some say the financial support offered divided the county and ultimately cost a former County Chairman his job. Many citizens were angry about elected officials placing the county on the hook to pay out millions.
Cobb taxpayers remember the promise ten years ago from team management for the Atlanta Braves. After being given $300 million in public subsidies from Cobb, they said they would not come back to the County for any more money, but here they were last week asking for more.
Representatives for the Braves and Truist Financial made a presentation to the Development Authority of Cobb County last week seeking a 10-year property tax break to help finance the cost of a $200 million, a 250,000-square-foot office tower overlooking Truist Park. The plans are to build their new office tower as soon as possible – but to do so, they want Cobb taxpayer dollars to help finance it. What a difference ten years makes.
With outstretched hands and no shame, the Braves stadium development requested additional support from the Development Authority of Cobb County in the form of a new round of incentives. During the meeting, board member Karen Hallacy called out both the Braves and Truist on this request saying, “One of the things that I recall, when the Battery and the park were built, was the promise that the Braves … would not come back and ask for additional abatements beyond what was already being provided to the ballpark.” She went on to ask the all-important question, “How does that fit into this coming in and the Braves basically asking for tax abatements on the property?” She was joined by other board members who suggested that this new request appeared to renege on promises made when Cobb County agreed to contribute $300 million to the stadium’s construction in 2013.
Officials from the Braves were defended by the chairman of the redevelopment authority who jointly disputed the suggestion that a promise had been broken. Said Mike Plant, president of the Braves’ development arm, “We’re not asking for (tax breaks), “Truist is.” To add insult to the request, Plant revealed that the Braves will own the office tower “that they are not requesting a tax break on” while Truist will lease space in it. Yes, the Braves own the land (which they are not requesting a tax abatement, but would gladly accept it if approved). The property is located on Battery Avenue and the Braves would lease the building to Truist for 15 years, the company said.
There are no new jobs to point to with this new office building. It has been determined that they will have nearly 1,000 workers, but this will be the current Buckhead workforce, which would transition into this new office space.
There are some in the community that we spoke with who pointed out the hypocrisies of those who protest “welfare programs” which have been created to provide ordinary Americans with a safety net and health care, yet these same people will gladly support corporations getting tax abatements and other corporate welfare from our government.
These gifts to corporations usually result in tax payers paying more taxes for these tax breaks, subsidies, loopholes, and yes, broken promises.
The AJC went into its archives and found the reference to the 2015 promise and a quote from Plant that said in a presentation, “We do not ask, nor do we intend to ask, for any incentives for the mixed use part.” the AJC reported.
DACC Chair Clark Hungerford, defended the Braves and Truist. Clearly supportive of this additional corporate welfare, he added insult on top of the broken promise by saying another reason the team didn’t break its promise is because the office tower would technically be outside the 2 million-square foot mixed-use development known as The Battery. “The commitment, if I’m not mistaken, was for The Battery,” Hungerford said. “And this piece of property that we’re talking about, even though it’s close, it’s not the same piece of property.”
Members of the community said that these guys should go back and do their own research before they open their mouths and insert their feet, pointing to the April 6 news release from the Braves announcing the plans for the project which differ from Hungerford’s position. The release headline said “Truist and the Braves Development Company announce new national headquarters for Truist Securities inside The Battery Atlanta.”
The board voted 5-2 to continue discussions with the two companies regarding the project. It calls for $140 million in construction work and $60 million in office furnishings and equipment. For those wondering who supported this vote, here are the seven members of the board, their district, and their terms. Members Hallacy and JC Bradbury voted against the resolutions.
|Member Name||District / Role||Term|
|J.C. Bradbury||District One||03/13/2023|
|Donna C. Rowe||District Two||03/13/2023|
|Smith Peck||District Three||03/13/2023|
|Jamala McFadden||District Four||03/13/2025|
|Karen Hallacy||Board of Commissioners||03/13/2022|
|Clark Hungerford||Board of Commissioners||03/13/2025|
DACC plans to complete a fiscal impact study to determine the costs and estimated benefits of a property tax break to the Braves…I mean Truist.