In a sign that we are truly living in a world with alternate facts, a Major League Baseball team owned by Liberty Media Company—which is in turn owned by John C. Malone, who is worth an estimated $7.7 billion—claims that it is owed an additional $14 million by taxpayers for the construction of a stadium that the public is already financing to the tune of at least $350 million. The Braves paid $280 million upfront and will add an additional $92 million over the life of the 30-year deal. The kicker? The Braves have already paid for most of the $14 million it says the county is on the hook for. They just want to be reimbursed.
The Braves are requesting reimbursement for a list of five projects; the county responded with a memo that detailed $69.5 million in public financing for transportation projects. In the memo, county transportation director Jim Wilgus noted "we feel this satisfies Cobb County's transportation improvement contribution." The Braves, however, say the $14 million outstanding should not count toward the $69.5 already paid.
The problem is that this deal is a piece of shit in every possible way. It was passed by a five-person panel without any public debate, and several elements were left unresolved at that time, to be dealt with at a later date. Included among these was, you guessed it, the disputed transportation improvements. Adding to the confusion, two separate agreements contemplate the $14 million expenditure "for roads, walkways and other pedestrian improvements at the team's new stadium."
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has more:
Cobb Commission Chairman Mike Boyce, who took over for Tim Lee in January, said he has invited the Braves to a public discussion of the issue Tuesday. The county attorney and city manager will also participate.
"I have four different versions of what that $14 million is for," Boyce said. " I need to bring everybody to the table so we can come to a consensus. We need to get this put to bed quickly because the Braves open up in less than 90 days."
Hopefully Cobb County gets this sorted out ASAP and in public, so the public can know exactly who is nickel-and-diming them: a multi-billionaire who is also literally the largest individual landowner in the United States.