ATLANTA -- Newly-released records show that a bitter breakup is underway between the Atlanta Braves and the government authority that runs Turner Field.
11Alive News has learned they’re at odds over parking revenue -- and whether the Braves have withheld hundreds of thousands of dollars owed to a community fund.
The documents outline months of acrimony between the Braves and the Atlanta Fulton County Recreation Authority.
The biggest dispute is over parking for special events that take place at Turner Field when the Braves aren’t playing – but when the Braves still collect parking revenue. The Atlanta Fulton County Recreation Authority says the Braves are supposed to pay 50 percent of that revenue to the SMP Community Fund, which serves the neighborhoods surrounding Turner Field.
But instead of 50 percent, the authority director says the Braves have only paid eight percent – contributing to a shortfall of about $400,000 over the last six years.
On March 16, Braves vice president Mike Plant wrote an email to AFCRA executive director Keisha Lance Bottoms describing his “frustration (with) your lack of understanding and recognition of the underlying agreements… and candidly … wasting valuable resources and time of our staff.”
Lance Bottoms responded the same day by saying “Perhaps your ‘frustration'… stems from your inability to comprehend, acknowledge and abide by their terms.”
The Braves also counter-claimed the authority owed the team unspecified revenue from parking at two special events.
Both sides declined comment Thursday. The dispute becomes public as the Braves are due to play their last six games at Turner Field – and vacate the property for a new stadium due to open in Cobb County next Spring.
On August 30, Lance Bottoms proposed a settlement: That “the Braves contribute a fixed, agreed-upon amount towards the development of (a little league) field, and / or accompanying little league programs” in the surrounding community.
Ten days later, the Braves responded by agreeing to “contribute a total of $50,000… to support a community little league field near Turner Field” plus time and effort.
The negotiations appear to be ongoing. The Braves lease expires December 31, but the Braves have already begun locating offices and inventory at Cobb County’s Sun Trust Park, due to open in April 2017.
PHOTOS: Documents related to Braves parking dispute (Click the link for full screen view)