A Gwinnett Resident Responds

The AJC has published a letter of response to my Op-Ed in Friday’s paper: Braves stadium deal taxes fiscal realities.

Stadium naysayer needs reality check

The op-ed piece questioning the Gwinnett County administration’s fiscal stance in building a minor-league baseball stadium with public funds is one of the best examples of ivory tower academia passing for expertise (“Braves stadium deal taxes fiscal realities,”).

Those of us who have run businesses understand the value of such a venture in creating a small-business ripple effect that will generate a tax-revenue stream to the benefit of all. It wasn’t so long ago that the same kind of naysaying surrounded construction of the now hugely successful Gwinnett Center and Arena. In other words, a classroom construct doesn’t approach the real world.

AVRUM FINE, Lawrenceville

It’s hard to be a naysayer when you make your case using the other side’s most-optimistic estimates and the projected revenue still covers only half of the projected cost. And if the Arena at Gwinnett is such a success, why were two-thirds of its construction costs funded through hotel taxes? When you throw out a gigantic subsidy and the interest on the debt, it is not difficult to make something look profitable. Of course, it’s easy to get away with this when the local paper does nothing but run puff pieces that spew their own representative’s propaganda (here, here, and here).

8 Responses “A Gwinnett Resident Responds”

  1. Terry says:

    “Ivory tower academia”. I abhor this kind of anti-intellectual rhetoric that is unfortunately an American tradition.

  2. Frank says:

    One wonders if the writer happens to operate a business near the Gwinnett arena.

    Another point–Isn’t it possible Gwinnett is growing so rapidly that some (most? all?) of the businesses that are near the Gwinnett arena might have been built even without the arena? In economics jargon the question is whether the writer, in attributing great ripples of commerce to the arena, has held all else constant.

    JC–just for good measure, you might want to post links or abstracts to some of the sports econ literature which finds no spillover benefits from sporting events and arenas.

  3. I think you’re wrong here, JC. I’ve lived in Gwinnett County since I was 18 months old, and I’ve got a pretty good idea as to what their strategy has been for the past decade or so.

    Gwinnett County is trying to switch from merely a commuter county to a *destination county*. The Gwinnett Arena, the Mall of Georgia, the Hindu temple, and now the AAA Braves. They want people to *come* to Gwinnett county instead of always *leaving*.

    If someone goes to a AAA Braves game, they’re probably going to buy gasoline in Gwinnett County, or they’re probably going to go out to eat, or go shopping. The coat tails that the visitors bring in are enormous. If you need any proof about this, go take a look at the area around the Gwinnett Arena- the area went from rural to plastered with strip malls in 5 years. That stuff brings in tax revenue, plain and simple.

    Instead of all of the residents of Gwinnett county leaving to work, to play and to shop, they’re trying to get them to do it within the county line. And I think the strategy is definitely working.

  4. Jason S. says:

    For whatever it’s worth JC, as a Gwinnett resident I do applaud you for bringing all this to light. For whatever little good it will do, in the next election I plan to vote against every sitting commissioner as a result of this crazy decision. The most galling thing to me about the whole deal is that the county agreed to give the Braves revenue from the 10 non-baseball events the stadium is allowed to hold each year. I can only imagine when the negotiations started that the guys representing Liberty Media left the room and said “Can you believe that they agreed to EVERYTHING we asked for? I’ve never seen that happen before. I thought for sure we’d have to negotiate a little.”

  5. David says:

    Apparently the Snapshot thing is on to you JC. It won’t show a shot from the Gwinnett Daily Post, saying, “We’re sorry to inform you your IP address has been blocked from this site due to possible malicious behavior.”

    Don’t know if it’s just me, although when I clicked the link it went to the page.

  6. JC says:

    My grandfather was born in Lost Mountain, Georgia in Cobb County about 10 miles from Marietta. If you are not from this area, you wouldn’t even know the town. It’s on the northwest side of Atlanta, as opposed to Gwinnett County, which is on the northeast side.

    As child, I visited my family quite a bit. We would occasionally drive by the old homeplace, which was in my family before the Civil War. The farmhouse is still there right on Dallas Highway. The farm is now a subdivision just past the posh mall The Avenue at West Cobb.

    Lost Mountain’s most prominent landmark, besides the “mountain” itself—it is more of a hill—is the the Lost Mountain Store. It looked exactly like this until. The only thing missing from my memory are the old men in overalls and the hound dog who used to sit on the porch.

    Old Lost Mountain Store

    Today, it looks like this, and the store is now a bank.

    United Community Bank

    And the picture doesn’t do justice to the change in the area.

    The point is, there has been no arena or sports stadium to spur this growth in this country community. The growth has occurred because people are moving to Atlanta. Lost Mountain is just an example of one of many metro-Atlanta communities that have changed dramatically in the past few years. I don’t doubt that sports projects have positive aspects, but it is wrong to ascribe changes to these areas to development policies that spend more tax revenue than they generate.

    And one final thought. If this was such a good deal for Gwinnett, why was the deal reached in secret?

  7. Bill Russell says:

    “Having Hannah Montana come to Gwinnett … it really shows the cache of Gwinnett,”

    That, my friend, is an example of a hard hitting anlaysis on the value of the Gwinnett Center.

    Having grown up in Gwinnett also, I can say that it has had explosively growth for decades, not some sudden boom with any big public investment. The area around the Gwinnett center, especially the Discover Mills mall, is already in decline (Unless you like to shop for sneakers or go to Medieval times).

    I have been to the arena once, to see Bob Dylan. The sound was horrible (most likely Bob’s fault) and people were openly smoking pot.

  8. Don Shaw says:

    I own my own business and thsi will not give me one bit of economic impact. Who here thinks the Gwinnett County is responsible for my companies growth? If you think this way I should demand equality and force Gwinnett County to provide something to increase my companies sales.

    It is not governments duty to provide economic stimulas for private ventures.

    It is this kind of thinking why Gwinnett County is dipping into cash reserves to run the operations this year.