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Gwinnett Stadium Proving Itself a Financial Albatross

Those of us Gwinnett County citizens who had the common sense of a gnat knew early on that the stadium would not pay for itself.

It comes as no surprise to me that actual revenues are not tracking projected revenues at the Gwinnett Braves stadium. Those of us Gwinnett County citizens who had the common sense of a gnat knew early on that the stadium would not pay for itself.

I surmise this is why it was not put to a vote as the then Board of Commissioners knew that it would not pass muster at the ballot box. It is/was my understanding that the county bonds issued to finance the stadium were guaranteed on the backs of we taxpayers. Translated, as I understand it, if actual revenues did not track projected revenues that a tax increase would be forthcoming if necessary to retire the bond debt.

We citizens expect our county leadership to incur bond debt on our behalf for the purpose of financing public safety and public works which serve the common good of all of the citizens of Gwinnett County. Public safety and public works represents the core services which are to be provided by county government. We do not expect county government to incur bond debt for private enterprise unless we have the opportunity to approve or disapprove same at the ballot box. A good example of this would be that should privatization of the airport move forward, there is no way the county should incur one dime of bond debt to finance such a venture unless same is approved at the ballot box.

Another matter that rankles me is taking $19 million dollars in reserves from the county general fund to help finance this albatross. Same thing about the $25 million dollars payable at $5 million dollars per year over five years to help finance the expansion of the for profit Gwinnett Medical Center. My position on a for profit entity operating under the auspicies of our market driven system of free enterprise is you secure your financing from the venture capital market and you either make it on your own or declare insolvency. If the for profit Braves baseball organization wanted to relocate their farm club from Richmond, Ga. to Gwinnett County, Ga., they should have financed and built their own stadium.

I moved to Gwinnett County from DeKalb County June 6, 1979. At that time we had an elected Board of Commissioners who annually selected the Chairman from among themselves. It seems like to me that when we had an elected Board of Commissioners with a Chairman appointed from among them, that county government functioned better and operated better then than it is presently doing now.

One of our commissioners advised me that he was trying to get the stadium in the black and asked if I had any ideas such as revivals, concerts, etc. In my opinion, such ideas are grasping at straws. You would have to have something going on every day the stadium was not being used for baseball and even then, based on the attendance at baseball games, in all proability you would still be in the red.

I wonder if when the stadium was under consideration any members of county government visited Richmond, Va. to discuss with local government up there as to why the Braves wanted to fold their tent in Richmond? Could it have been that the local government in Richmond had the common sense to avoid a finacial disaster in retaining the baseball club in their city?

If it were not for the collateral damage to the surrounding areas, perhaps the best solution would be to call in a kinetic airstrike, clear the rubble, and sell the land. Of course you know that I am talking tongue in cheek. You know and I know that the ultimate solution will be a property tax increase.  

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Andrew McNeil September 05, 2011 at 06:31 PM
You are so right, my friend...and was it a coincidence that the Gwinnett Daily Post ran an article the day after touting Cool Ray Heating and Air with the renaming of the stadium? From one gnat to another...I think we lead the common sense competition!
Brian Crawford September 05, 2011 at 08:17 PM
Good read Jimmy. Something else we agree on. Liberals refer to these types of shenanigans as "corporate welfare".
Gary Fox September 05, 2011 at 09:09 PM
IDEA Would someone plz find Brett Smith of propellers & see if he might be interested in buying a baseball stadium just up the road from the airport, instead of Brisco. I mean, like you never know, huh, maybe??
M.K. OSBORNE September 07, 2011 at 01:40 AM
I think the City of Lawrenceville (or a co-op of Citys ) should bid for the airport and secure it and its future from this snake rearing its head until it eventually wins.The City can then privatize it as it is or according to there wishes.
STEVE RAMEY September 11, 2011 at 01:13 PM
It's hard to remain mad for years but that is exactly what i have done regarding the Gwinnett (albatross) Stadium. The stadium should have been proposed on a referendum for the voters to decide if they wanted one. Our commissioners in office at the time thought it was better to make that decision in the dead of the night and behind closed doors and the taxpayers be damned. Since then one of the commissioners has resigned before a grand jury investigated certain land deals, another is under indictment for allegedly taking bribes. There is one left and I can't vote in that district. It will be interesting to see if the constituents continue to support him!

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