BRADENTON, Fla. - The Georgia Supreme Court holds oral arguments Feb. 3 in three appeals opposing the public financing planned for the Atlanta Braves' new stadium in Cobb County.
County officials plan to issue $397 million in bonds to partially finance the 41,500-seat Major League Baseball venue, but a number of residents object to that plan.
The residents appealed last July's validation of the bonds by Cobb County Judge Robert Leonard to the Supreme Court, and filed a motion Jan. 23 asking the judges to schedule additional time for oral argument. A main argument of their appeal is that a referendum should have been held to authorize the bonds.
On Jan. 15, Schiff Hardin LLP filed a friend-of-the court brief on behalf of the state, Cobb County, and the Cobb-Marietta Coliseum and Exhibit Hall Authority, which will issue the debt. Schiff Hardin is outside counsel for the Braves.
In response to the appeals, Cobb County attorneys have argued that the issuance is proper because the bonds will not qualify as debt as defined in the state Constitution, which would require a public vote. The reason is that a conduit - the Coliseum and Exhibit Hall Authority - will issue the debt through an interlocal agreement with Cobb County, according to published reports.
Site work on the ballpark, announced in late 2013, is underway. The Braves have a deal with Atlanta-based SunTrust Bank for naming rights.
County officials have said the 30-year bonds likely will be issued as taxable securities because of the variety of payment sources, which includes $92 million in revenue from team rent, naming rights, parking, and marquee advertising, in addition to a cash payment of $280 million.
Cobb County also expects to secure the bonds from an existing hotel/motel tax, property taxes, a rental car tax, and other fees.
The Braves plan to move from Turner Field in downtown Atlanta to the suburban site at the northwest corner of Interstate 75 and I-285.
Adjacent to the ballpark, the Braves have purchased property to privately finance a multi-use development of retail, restaurants, residential, hotel and office space to increase the team's year-round profitability.