Now that the deal is done, Tim Tucker and Jeremy Redmon break down the cost and income estimates of the Gwinnett Braves ballpark in the AJC. Here is a brief summary.
Gwinnett County leaders plan to tap a variety of sources to pay for a minor-league baseball stadium for the Atlanta Braves. But an AJC analysis shows some projected income amounts are so fluid that it’s difficult to know whether taxpayers will have to pay more than the $12 million they’ve already surrendered to the $45 million stadium.
The county borrowed $33 million this month, and it’s obligated to pay back an average of $2.59 million annually over the next 30 years, for a total of more than $77.5 million.
The county will get a portion of that money directly from the stadium. The rest will come from two related sources: a rental car tax imposed specifically for this ballpark, and county money, funneled through the Gwinnett Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Given the uncertain nature of some of these revenues, estimates show the county could end up with more than each average payment, or it could be significantly short.
Because the county is obligated to make the payments, county leaders would have to pay the shortfall out of the general budget. Though it’s likely the county can find any necessary money somewhere in an $856 million operating budget, county leaders promised Wall Street lenders that they would raise property taxes across the county if necessary.
Most of the money generated at the stadium — such as ticket sales and concessions — will go to the Braves organization, which is responsible for none of the debt.
Once again, we are reminded that county taxpayers are responsible for any shortfall in stadium revenue. There is no way the stadium revenue will cover the current debt, and I suspect that current construction estimates are too low.