How fitting that Gwinnett officials and the Atlanta Braves reached their deal to bring a Triple-A team to Gwinnett County on April 1, because the Braves made the county commissioners look like fools.
The contract between the Braves and the GCVB — the agency empowered by the county to oversee the stadium project — cleared the way for Gwinnett to close Tuesday on $33 million in construction bonds. In the contract, Gwinnett County guarantees the obligations made by the GCVB.
The contract, completed near midnight Monday and obtained Tuesday under the state’s Open Records Act, runs 71 pages, including exhibits. Key provisions include:
• Rent: The Braves will pay annual rent of $250,000, plus a fee of $1 per ticket sold. The Braves guarantee Gwinnett at least $400,000 annually in ticket fees. The rent, but not the ticket fee, will be adjusted after each five-year period based on the Consumer Price Index.
• Revenue: Aside from the naming rights deal [The contract calls for the Braves to receive $350,000 from a GCVB-negotiated naming-rights deal and for Gwinnett to receive the rest.] and a 50-50 split of parking proceeds with the county, the Braves retain all revenue from games and other team events in the stadium. That includes ticket and suite sales, advertising signage and concessions.
• Maintenance: The Braves are responsible for routine maintenance, such as cleaning, mowing and replacing light bulbs. The GCVB is responsible for capital maintenance and repairs — big-ticket items that range from structural components to repainting, from seats to scoreboard.
To pay for capital maintenance and repairs, the GCVB is to keep a capital maintenance fund, which by Dec. 31, 2013, must contain a minimum of $500,000. The contract says that amount is not a limit on Gwinnett’s responsibility and that if capital needs arise before Dec. 31, 2013, GCVB also must pay for those.
• Escape clause: The agreement runs for 30 years, through the 2038 season, but the Braves have an out after 15 years if the stadium deteriorates significantly. The Braves can walk away in 2023 or later if, after engaging in nonbinding commercial mediation, the team and the GCVB are unable to agree on capital repairs that are “material to the operation of the stadium.”
To try to head off such potential trouble, the contract calls for the GCVB and the Braves to annually prepare an ongoing three-year capital maintenance plan.
The Gwinnett Daily Pompon has more.
Lee Tucker, an attorney negotiating the contract and convention and visitors bureau Chairman Richard Tucker’s son, said he was pleased with the end result.
“I think it’s a fair deal,” he said. “We negotiated very hard.”
That is fair!? The county bears most of the cost and the Braves get most of the revenue. And if this is the result of hard negotiation I’d hate to see what happens when they take it easy.
Here are some predictions.
1. This stadium will cost more than $45 million to build.
2. The total annual value of the naming rights deal will be less than $500,000.
3. Gwinnett County residents will see their taxes go up.
4. In 15 years, the Braves are going to use the out clause—non-binding commercial mediation…are you kidding me?—to seek significant improvements to the stadium.
5. Despite the obvious financial losses, the government officials will claim the project was a success, as will the Gwinnett Daily Pompon.