MARIETTA, GA-- First the simple math: Cobb County will use tax money to pay $300 million of the construction cost of the new Braves stadium. Nobody is disputing that. But critics say taxpayers will actually be on the hook for much more -- not just $300 million, but $537 million, just for construction.
Add in maintenance and other costs, and they say the cost rises to close to $600 million."When we look at what the county pays, it's much more over the life of the bonds and the stadium than people tend to think it is," said Terry Taylor, a board member of Common Cause Georgia.
Cobb County Commission Chairman Tim Lee says they've never denied the fact that there could be additional interest costs. It's comparable to any big project, whether it's a stadium, a road project or a home mortgage. Tuesday Lee said while it may exceed $300 million, he doesn't think it'll be double that.
"It all depends on what rate we get, how revenues are, how quickly we pay it off, how quickly we're able to move on the project, whether or not we used all the money," Lee said. "There's a lot of things that factor into the total cost over the life."
Part of the issue is semantics. Cobb County is paying $300 million dollars for construction of the new stadium, but critics say it's paying the added cost of $237 million to borrow the money to pay for the construction bonds. "Anytime you're paying for a project of this magnitude you're going to have to borrow some money," said JC Bradbury, a Kennesaw State professor. "It should be assumed whenever you talk about a public financed project, those up front costs aren't everything."
While critics say the loan itself doesn't make this a bad deal, they say admitting the potential of additional costs makes it a more transparent one.