Cobb BOC hears report on Truist Park

Cobb County government building sign, a vertical rectangular sign with the words "Board of Commissioners," "County Clerk," "County Manager," "County Office," "Employment," and a wheelchair entrance icon

by Caleb Groves April 10, 2024

The Cobb County Board of Commissioners was presented with the latest updates from Truist Park, from increased tourism to Cobb’s reduced debt on the Atlanta Braves Stadium on Tuesday, April 9, 2024.

William Volkmann Cobb County Chief Financial Officer and Braves Company CEO Mike Plant presented annual updates for The Battery and Truist Park. He highlighted increased tourism with over 10 million visitors in 2023, 80% of which were from out of Cobb.

Plant expects to sell out 60 Atlanta Braves games, up from 57 sold-out games in 2023.

“This year we have over 300,000 square feet of new concepts under construction, by the end of this year, we’ll be 99% fully occupied, fully leased,” Plant said. “So there is no more space at the Battery.”

Coinciding with The Battery’s success, Cobb residents are steadily paying for less and less of the debt for the complex, Volkmann said.

Cobb is paying off the $300 million in county debt for bonds on The Battery. Each year, Cobb contributes $16.4 million to pay off the debt. Funds come from general fund property taxes, hotel, motel and car rental taxes. The Braves also contribute through annual $6.1 million in rent for Truist Park. Annually, $22.5 million of debt is paid off.

Initially, in 2015, Cobb committed to providing $6.4 million in funding annually out of the general fund for 30 years, but through the partnership with the Braves and Cobb, the county has steadily paid less each year due to the success of the complex.

“2022 was the first year that we covered the debt service, and I’m happy to report that in 2023, not only did we cover the debt service, but we covered the cost of the circulator,” Volkmann said.

“I appreciate all of the support from this organization and from the board… Hopefully, we’ll be playing in a parade with you in November again,” Plant said.

Public comment rule change backlash

The BOC approved changes to public comment on March 26, 2024. The new changes limit speakers to three minutes with up to 20 slots for public comment, rather than a five-minute limit with 12 slots. Alongside the provision, the county is considering limiting the use of audio and visual aids.

During public comment, four people criticized the BOC for the new provisions.

Denny Wilson criticized the new provisions for reduced time limits and allowing county staff to take up public comment slots.

Kevin Cutliffe spoke of his concerns regarding deepfake use for misinformation or disinformation and displays of explicit content during public comment being read into the public record.

However, an outright ban on audio and video aids should be carefully considered, Cutliffe said.