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William Perry, executive director of the government watchdog group Common Cause Georgia, was a vocal critic of the mayor for not seeking more public input on the Falcons stadium deal. He said this week that the mayor appeared to be applying inconsistent logic by fighting for the Falcons but letting the Braves leave.

Braves executives said the decision to leave Turner Field was based on several factors, including $150 million needed to replace seats and pay for other upgrades as well as another $200 million to improve the fan experience. The team cited a lack of mass transit options in the area, too few parking spaces and limited freeway access.

“Our new location will give us the opportunity to develop the surrounding area of the new ballpark, transforming it into a mixed use, 365-day destination and creating an enhanced atmosphere for our fans during Braves games,” the team said in a statement.

Studies have shown stadium projects create only modest increases in overall tax revenue and job creation, Long said, although more teams are taking a role in developing lodging, entertainment and retail around the venues.

“In part, this is evidence of a trend where teams are more interested in development around the stadium as part of their evolving business model,” Long said, adding that it can also help with gaining approval. “However, these urban development benefits … are slow to materialize.”

For Cobb County, the benefits of the project are clearly worth any risk.

“This makes Cobb’s marketability so much stronger, and it helps us become more than a suburban community,” said Brooks Mathis, an executive with the Cobb Chamber of Commerce who helped negotiate the deal. “We are going to see huge benefits for many, many years to come especially having such a wonderful organization like the Braves be a part of our community.”


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