In 2008, residents of Cobb County, Georgia, voted overwhelmingly in favor of funding a $40 million bond to build public parks. To date, that bond has only been funded about halfway. Yet during that same span, the county's public officials thought it wise to subsidize a new stadium for the Atlanta Braves to the tune of $400 million.
The Braves' current stadium, Turner Field, opened in 1996 as part of the Summer Olympics and is widely considered fully functional and modern. But the team (which touts itself as "a fairly major real estate business as opposed to just a baseball club," thanks to a network of publicly subsidized minor league stadiums dotting cash-strapped towns across the Deep South) is planning on opening SunTrust Stadium in Cobb County next April.
Though the Braves' billionaire owner, John Malone, could raise enough private capital and could even spend some of his own money on the real estate project, the Cobb County Commission approved the allocation of $400 million in public funds without even putting the measure up to a vote. One commissioner reportedly deemed the $300,000 it was projected to cost to hold a special election prohibitively expensive.
Residents will now see their taxes go up to fulfill the public parks bond requirement, because the general fund, which is supposed to pay for bonds, has been completely depleted.
This article originally appeared in print under the headline "Brave New World".