Board Hears Annual Truist Park/Battery Atlanta Update
Annual Truist Park and Battery Atlanta report shows development hit a major milestone in 2022
Battery Atlanta generates more property tax income than resident’s share for the first time
May 9, 2023 - The Battery Atlanta complex hosted more than ten million visitors last year, an economic engine that generated record tax revenue for the county. Cobb’s Board of Commissioners was told Tuesday that, for the first time, the Battery Atlanta complex was a net positive for Cobb taxpayers, generating more property tax revenue than the portion required by taxpayers for this year’s debt service.
The details came during the annual Braves and Truist Park report given each year to the Board by Finance Director Bill Volckmann.
“This is a milestone moment for us in Cobb County,” Volckmann told the board. “We netted 400 thousand dollars above and beyond the requirements for the debt service for the first time since this investment began.”
Volckmann’s figures showed the initial estimate of $6.4 million per year in debt service from the general fund was reduced to $2.1 million last year because other funding sources increased dramatically. At the same time, the Battery Atlanta complex paid the county $2.5 million in property taxes.
“This is proof that the risk and the faith and the confidence you had in us nine years ago is providing a lot of impact in the county and community in a variety of ways,” said Mike Plant, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Braves Development Company.
“I think we’ve had 200 teams from all over the world come to (tour) the Battery and Truist Park. We think we have the secret sauce, and they believe that too,” Plant said during the meeting. “If you don’t have that public/private partnership working together, you will fail. Fortunately, that’s the model of success because of our relationship and working together to achieve these results.”
The numbers show remarkable growth fueled by record interest in the Atlanta Braves and a development that remains a popular destination outside of the baseball season. Taxable property values at The Battery Atlanta have risen from $5 million in 2014 to $736 million in 2022. The stadium and development pumped $38 million in tax revenue to the county, state, and school district last year, with $9.4 million going to the Cobb Board of Education.
“We see a lot of value that is coming to the county and residents in the community from the development,” Chairwoman Lisa Cupid said after the presentation. “We certainly know of the energy that site has generated and the ancillary development around the site because people want to be near that development. So it is very good to receive this positive report.”
“What you are seeing is the evidence of intentional work and collaboration,” District 2 Commissioner Jerica Richardson said. “I think that collaboration is critical to keep these numbers trending this way.”
“I think this goes a long way to show the vision that Chairman Lee had back then (in 2015) with Mike and the Braves,” said District 3 Commissioner JoAnn Birrell. “I think to seal this deal, we need the Braves to win another championship!”
June 14, 2022 - Cobb’s Chief Financial Officer gave the county’s annual update on the financing for Truist Park and the Battery during the Board of Commissioners meeting on Tuesday, June 14th. This update was postponed from a meeting earlier in the year due to scheduling conflicts.
CFO Bill Volckmann told the board despite the pandemic, the county’s general fund contribution to the financing remains well below levels established five years ago. The general fund obligation to stadium financing - the part of the budget financed by property taxes - is below 1 percent of the budget, standing at 0.77 percent. With preliminary figures coming in from the post-pandemic months, that obligation is predicted to decline even further in coming years, but Volckmann says predictions will remain on the conservative side. The CFO says outside reports exaggerate the impact on individual taxpayers, most of the increase in revenue comes from commercial property owners inside special service districts created for stadium financing.
You can watch the presentation in the accompanying video.
Some of the charts are difficult to see in the video, you can download the presentation here:
Atlanta Braves Development President Mike Plant also updated the commissioners on the status of Battery Atlanta, the development that accompanies Truist Park. Plant says the Battery lost only one tenant during the pandemic and has several scheduled to move in, which will fill up the complex. Another office tower is planned for the area, in addition to the TK Tower complex that opened last year.
The Braves also released a new economic study on the development that predicts an overall benefit to the county and refutes other studies that show an inflated impact on Cobb County taxpayers. This report was distributed to the commissioners, and you can download a copy here:
The total budget for the new SunTrust Park is $672 million. This includes the SunTrust Park, parking and other related infrastructure. Atlanta Braves will be responsible for $372 million and the remaining $300 million will be contributed by Cobb County and the Cumberland Community Improvement District.
Cobb County commission Chairman Tim Lee confirmed with legal experts that plans to fund the proposed SunTrust Park are well grounded.
"We have a top notch group of experts working together on this effort and I am confident that their guidance is right on target," said Cobb Commission Chair Tim Lee. "With experienced counsel representing both the county and the exhibit hall authority, as well as the county's own legal team, we are moving forward using a well-established funding process."
Cobb County Attorney Deborah Dance released the following statement in response to rumors to the contrary. "The County has been working closely with a team of attorneys that includes those specializing in the issuance of bonds and economic development projects. I have every confidence that the current plan for the issuance of revenue bonds by the Coliseum Authority and the execution of an intergovernmental agreement between the County and the Authority is a legal, permissible and appropriate way to address funding for the new SunTrust Park project. Statements to the contrary appear to be due to a lack of understanding of the structure of the transaction and the law, which has been established by the Georgia Supreme Court for decades. Many major development projects throughout the State, including Cobb's own Performing Arts Center, have successfully utilized just such a transaction structure over a number of years."
Summary Response: Estimates from a private fiscal benefits study that was performed by Brailsford & Dunlavey indicated that relocating the Braves to Cobb County will generate $212 million in earnings while the ballpark is built and $61 million in earnings for every year the ballpark is in operations. Recurring revenues from operating the ballpark that will impact the local economy consist of spending by visiting teams, fans, the Atlanta Braves, and ballpark operators. Brailsford & Dunlavey estimate this spending to result in approximately $4 million per year to the local government in tax collections. The addition of a mixed use development at an estimated investment of $400 million is projected to add an additional $6 million per year in property taxes, approximately $3 million of which would go to the Board of Education and $800,000 to the Cumberland CID. Existing property taxes that have been identified to support the County’s annual $17.9 million debt service cost on the SunTrust Park financing totals $8.67 million.
A $10 million dollar return from ballpark operations and property taxes on an investment of $8.67 million produces a positive projected return of investment (ROI) of 15%. This calculation does not include the increased economic activity for existing businesses and the expansion of new businesses. The ROI at this most conservative calculation generates a positive return for the county.
The Atlanta Braves will be responsible for all cost overruns.
The county will set aside a specific amount of money each year along with contributions from the Braves organization for repairs and maintenance. The county's total project maintenance obligation is capped at $35 million over the life of the agreement. Any upgrades and fan enhancement experience will be the financial responsibility of the Braves.
SunTrust Park will be owned by Cobb County. The agreement is for the Atlanta Braves to lease the facility for 30 years with an option to extend for another five years.
Cobb County Government and the Cobb County School District are two separate entities and operate independently. Based on the proposed development by the Braves the Cobb County School District will receive more than $3 million in annual tax revenues that can be used for general operations, including adding more teachers.
Plans contemplate the establishment of a special ad valorem tax district in the vicinity of the Cumberland CID. The district will not include privately-owned single-family residences. The board plans to bring forward a resolution and amendments to the official Cobb County Code in January 2014 that will provide specific information on properties included in the district and also provide for public hearings.
No. Property millage rate for homeowners will not be increased.
Currently .33 mills of your property taxes pay for the parks bonds that were issued in 1996, 2007 and 2008. The last of those bonds will be paid off in 2017 and 2018. The millage will then be shifted to the General Fund when these bonds expire to raise an equivalent amount of revenues of $8.67 million. Those monies will then be used to pay for bonds to finance SunTrust Park construction. The average amount of .33 mills per household is $26 per year and this shift of funding will not impact other government services such as police, libraries, parks and other services.
In property taxes alone, the Braves’ plans for commercial and retail development worth $400 million that would generate $3 million in annual revenues for the school system, $489,000 to the county fire fund and $1.2 million towards county government operations.
Traffic and Public Safety
We are currently working with Cobb County DOT and Georgia DOT to improve and enhance access points to the ballpark. For the 2014 season there will be 55 weeknight games, four of which are afternoon games.
Current roadway improvements include Windy Hill Diverging Diamond Interchange and corridor improvements extending from U.S. 41 to Powers Ferry - open to traffic first quarter 2017.
Windy Hill Road West
This SPLOST 2011 project improves Windy Hill Road from US 41/Cobb Pkwy. to I-75 from five-lanes to a six-lane divided (raised landscaped median) urban typical section with curb, gutter and sidewalks. Traffic signals will be upgraded and all new pedestrian accommodations will be included.
Windy Hill Road East
This SPLOST 2011 project adds an eastbound lane to the current alignment from the bridge over Rottenwood Creek to Interstate North Pkwy/Spectrum Cir. The project, a 2005 SPLOST deferred project, will add an additional westbound lane from Interstate North Parkway/Spectrum Circle to Powers Ferry Road. Additional turn lanes will also be added to Windy Hill road east of Powers Ferry Road.
Cobb Parkway from Akers Mill to Paces Mill
Widening to six lanes currently under contract
Cobb Parkway/Chattahoochee River Bridge
Currently under construction
Northwest Corridor I-75 Managed lanes from I-285 north to the I-575 split and from I-575 to Hickory Grove Road and on I-575 from I-75 to Sixes Road
Open to traffic 2018
Other roadway improvements under consideration include development to potential Windy Ridge Parkway Connector, operational improvements in the area, Windy Hill - Terrell Mill Connector, Cobb Parkway/I-285 Diverging Diamond Interchange, Cobb Pkwy/Cumberland/Spring Road Split Diamond and I-285 access to Circle 75 Parkway roundabout.
CobbLinc has five bus routes currently serving the Cumberland area. Routes begin, end, or go through the Cumberland Transfer Center with Route 10 servicing Cumberland the most, up to 50 times each weekday with limited service on Saturday, and no service on Sunday. Cumberland Transfer Center also services the Cumberland Mall, Costco, and is also the transfer point to MARTA bus service and additional CobbLinc routes passengers travel. MARTA Route 12 serves the Howell Mill Road/Cumberland area.
There are 14 access points to and from the SunTrust Park area.
- East: Terrell Mill Road, Windy Hill Road, Windy Ridge Parkway, I-285
- North: Powers Ferry Road, I-75, Cobb Parkway
- West: Windy Hill Road, Spring Road, I-285, Spring Hill Parkway, Cumberland Parkway
- South: Cobb Parkway, I-75
Our commissioners are working with our public safety agency to assess and outline future law enforcement needs in the new ballpark. Meetings between the Braves and Public Safety officials have begun and will continue to evaluate any future needs. The expected revenues from the ballpark will help fund many of these positions. There are 81 home games per year and the additional public safety resources will benefit the county year round.
Below is a list of items that will be accomplished leading up to the opening of the stadium. Completion dates are based on estimates as of April 25, 2014.
Items to be considered by the Board of Commissioners will appear on the commission meeting agenda prior to the meeting date. Agenda items for the stadium project will be included in the regular agenda and presented publicly. Board of Commissioner agendas are located here.
- Amend county codes to create special tax district, circulator fee, per night hotel room fee and rental car tax (Cobb Board of Commissioners approved)
- RFP or RFQ to be issued for Construction Manager and Project Manager (the Cobb Procurement Services Department to issue)
- Negotiation/Approval/Execution of Transportation and Infrastructure Agreement (Cobb Board of Commissioners to approve)
- Stadium footprint determined (Atlanta Braves)
- Permit and inspect plans for pipeline relocation (Cobb Community Development to issue)
- Circulator design project awarded (Cobb Board of Commissioners to approve)
- Process application for Rezoning to accommodate development surrounding stadium site (Cobb Community Development to review)
- Public Safety discussions with Braves Security to assess public safety needs at stadium (Cobb DPS to lead)
- Negotiation/Approval/Execution of Non-Relocation Agreement (Cobb Board of Commissioners to approve)
- Negotiation/Approval/Execution of Intergovernmental Agreement (Cobb Board of Commissioners to approve)
- Negotiation/Approval/Execution of Operating Agreement (Cobb Board of Commissioners to approve)
- Negotiation/Approval/Execution of Development Agreement (Cobb Board of Commissioners to approve)
- Stadium property conveyed from Braves to Coliseum Hall Authority (Coliseum and Exhibit Hall Authority Board to approve)
- Issue bonds for funding stadium project (Cobb Board of Commissioners to approve)
- Project manager in place (Cobb Board of Commissioners to approve)
- Process application for Development of Regional Impact Review (Cobb Community Development to review)
- Pedestrian bridge bid package released (Cobb DOT)
- Public Safety officials begin shadowing current stadium security officers to gather operational information on stadium security (Cobb DPS to lead)
- Pedestrian bridge bid awarded (Cobb Board of Commissioners to approve)
- Circulator vehicle specs to be completed (Cobb DOT)
- Drafting of plans for stadium and surrounding development security needs (Cobb DPS)
- Receive completed circulator study (Cobb DOT to receive)
- Finalize public safety needs and operations plan for stadium and surrounding development (Cobb DPS)
- Windy Hill improvements bid package released (Cobb DOT to issue)
- Order circulator vehicles (Cobb Board of Commissioners to approve)
- Windy Hill improvements bid awarded (Cobb Board of Commissioners)
- Windy Hill improvements construction begins (Cobb DOT to issue)
- Windy Hill Improvements completed
- Pedestrian bridge completed
- Approve entertainment and vending ordinances for stadium and surrounding development
- Opening Day
Development Information and Documents
- Cobb/Braves Memorandum of Understanding 11/26/2013
- Executed Development Agreement 5/27/2014
- Resolution for Development Agreement 5/27/2014
- Non-Relocation Agreement 5/27/2014
- Resolution and Construction Administration 5/27/2014
- Resolution for Assurance Agreement 5/27/2014
- SunTrust Park Construction Management Agreement 5/27/2014
- Resolution for Sale and Issuance of Bond 5/27/2014
- Resolution SunTrust Park Operating Agreement 5/27/2014
Traffic Management Plan
The Cobb County Police Department, in collaboration with the Cobb County Department of Transportation and other partners, has developed this traffic management plan (TMP) for events at Truist Park, with the following guiding principles:
- Provide for safe, efficient vehicular and pedestrian arrival and departure;
- Minimize traffic impacts to nearby neighborhoods, businesses and daily commuters;
- Leverage extensive thoroughfare network which provides 14 points of access, including two interstates; and
- Leverage the County's Advanced Transportation Management System (ATMS).
The County's ATMS includes a Regional Transportation Management Center (TMC) and an adaptive traffic control system. The TMC will be linked with control centers in Truist Park and will facilitate a review of more than 200 traffic cameras to coordinate a rapid response to traffic needs. The adaptive traffic control system utilizes a central computer in the TMC to monitor traffic on every approach of every lane at every signalized intersection in the greater Cumberland/Galleria area to provide automatic traffic signal timing adjustments in real-time based on changes in traffic patterns.
This TMP will be reviewed and modified frequently over the course of the Braves' first season at Truist Park and periodically thereafter to incorporate changes in the area to include completion of roadway projects, new development, and changes in parking availability and traffic patterns.
Read the entire Traffic Management Plan (updated March 1, 2018)
Truist Park’s location allows for 14 major points of access, offering entry from all directions. The majority of traffic will arrive and depart using Interstate 75 (north/south) and Interstate 285 (east/west) and disperse to parking locations in advance of the “front door” to the ballpark. For example, traffic from the north can exit the interstate early and navigate directly to parking on the north side of Truist Park. Traffic will flow through a broader thoroughfare network rather than accumulate on a few roadways, allowing for improved travel times and minimized congestion.
- From the office of Chairman Tim Lee February 2015 Update
- Final Guaranteed Maximum Price