COBB COUNTY, Ga. -- Cobb County Commissioners voted on Tuesday to approve key legal documents related to the new Atlanta Braves stadium.
Emotions ran high at the meeting. Critics contended that Cobb County officials slipped paperwork related to the deal onto a county website after close of business on Friday, giving taxpayers only one business day to examine it.
Both supporters and opponents of the Braves move lined up for a chance to speak before the Board of Commissioners at Tuesday's meeting. Supporters began arriving at 1:30 p.m. to line up for the 7 p.m. meeting so they could sign up to speak.
At every Cobb County Board of Commissioners meeting, there are six people allowed to speak at each of two public comment sessions. All 12 of the available speaking slots were taken by people who support the move, since they arrived first.
Eight minutes into the meeting, four people who question the stadium deal were escorted out because they interrupted the meeting, asking the Chairman to let them speak.
Ben Williams of the Cobb County Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) -- the first person to be escorted out -- said that he's not opposed to the Braves or to the stadium coming to Cobb County. He said that the process excluded those who question whether the deal is good for taxpayers.
"Our issue is the stewardship of our elected body," Williams said. "They have fallen down on the job. It appears as though they are not acting in our best interests."
Cobb County Commission Chair Tim Lee said that asking the opponents to leave was a matter of procedure. He said there have always been limits as to number of people who can speak at meetings.
"We've had...many different meetings. We have six slots, five minutes apiece twice a month," Lee said. "People are welcome to come contact us anytime."
Commissioner Lisa Cupid said that the opponents should have been allowed to address the crowd, saying the meeting was one-sided.
Commissioners eventually approved a contract naming American Builders 2017 as the construction manager to oversee the new stadium, which is scheduled to open in 2017. According to Cobb County news release, commissioners also approved other long-form agreements including and assurance agreement, construction administration agreement, development agreement, non-relocation agreement and stadium operating agreement that dictate the 30-year partnership between the Braves and Cobb County.
Construction of the new stadium is scheduled to begin in the second half of 2014.