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Op-Ed: 'How the Liberty Media Braves Stole Home on Atlanta'

Michael G. McDonald of Sandy Springs calls the new Braves ballpark 'The Cobb Parasite at I-285 and I-75.' And the City of Atlanta, Fulton and DeKalb Counties have some powerful weapons in their bat bags to make the Braves sit up and take notice.

In a Letter to the Editor, Michael McDonald says the Liberty Media Braves have financially injured the taxpayers of the City of Atlanta and Fulton County with their planned exodus. Still, the City of Atlanta and Fulton and DeKalb Counties have some powerful weapons in their bat bags to make the Braves sit up and take notice.

The Liberty Media Braves in cahoots with Cobb County have pulled off a triple steal. They have stolen the Atlanta name. They have left the City of Atlanta and Fulton County with a white elephant, still in its teens. And they have picked the pockets of the Atlanta and Fulton County taxpayers of sorely needed tax revenue.

“The gold standard team, the Atlanta Braves, moves to the gold standard county, Cobb” clucked John Schuerholz, immediately after the Cobb County Commission voted to authorize a memorandum of understanding with the Braves on the night before the eve of Thanksgiving. Thus, mercilessly killing the goose that laid the golden eggs for the Braves for half a century…Atlanta, Fulton County, GA. 

There are many culprits in this foul play. For starters, they range from the Atlanta Mayor to the Georgia Governor and many others in-between. Oddly, the Mayor seems quite happy to see the Liberty Media Braves leave, which raises questions about his personal, future agenda for Turner Field and its environs. His feckless actions are in sharp contrast with the bold, visionary moves of the esteemed Mayor Ivan Allen and the Forward Atlanta movement that brought the Braves to Atlanta in 1966 as a tangible centerpiece for the slogan: “Atlanta: the World’s Next Great City.” Going forward, all citizens of Fulton County need to keep a sharp eye on how Turner Field is carved up by hizzoner.

Governor Mis-Deal exclaims that Braves’ move to Cobb is: “Good for the State of Georgia.” While this may be good politics for his Republican base in that bastion of conservatism, Cobb County, it may not play so well in Atlanta and Fulton County come next Election Day. New York City never forgave President Gerald Ford, who during NYC’s financial crisis, in effect, said: “Drop Dead, New York”. Putting Hot Dog Nathan on the grill and turning up the heat might be in order for those of us who think Nat dealt us a raw deal with his tone-deaf proclamation.

John Malone, CEO of Liberty Media never met a tax avoidance gambit he didn’t embrace. The scheme to acquire the Braves from Time Warner was solely based upon a tax-free exchange of assets, which has now run its course. Owning a MLB team is not a great fit with Malone’s portfolio of cable TV companies …  unless there will be significantly new tax breaks accruing from the Cobb ParaSite deal. Or, if Terry McGuirk, John Schuerholz et al, have worked out a pre-arrangement to insure their employment futures by anticipating an eventual leveraged buy-out of Liberty’s interest in the Braves. Further, if the hidden agenda, end-game plan calls for casino gambling in Cobb, Big John Malone may want to permanently stay in the game at the green felt tables in ParaSite City.

Cobb County Commissioners, and its other powers-that-be, epitomize Cobb as the ultimate ParaSite. They have beggared their neighbors for years by failing to provide a rapid rail transit system for its booming population and thereby clogging the roads of Fulton and DeKalb Counties with their invading and retreating iron cavalry. All the while, getting a free pass from their forbearing neighbors. 

Cobb’s $300 million bribe to the Liberty Media Braves is akin to the biblical “thirty pieces of silver.” Two adages come to mind: One, “Be careful what you wish for” and two, “What goes around, comes around.” The Cobb electorate may well rue the day they got in bed with the gold digging, avaricious Liberty Media Braves. Conceptual drawings depicting the scenes around the ParaSite Stadium smack of a carnival midway-cum-Coney Island. Pure corn on the Cobb.

The juncture of I-285 and I-75 impacts the interstate commerce of our country … as well as the heavy regional, intrastate and local traffic. Currently, without Braves’ traffic, it is a notorious bottleneck that in time lost, wastes multimillions of dollars. 

With the Braves at the Cobb ParaSite, the lost time factor will be exponentially greater. The Federal, State, County and City DOTs must have an important up-front say concerning the Cobb ParaSite’s viability. By exercising their individual and collective responsibility and authority they could call: “Foul ball” on the Cobb ParaSite for the public good. A series of legal injunctions could prevent yet another “Spaghetti Junction” @ the proposed “Cobb ParaSite Junction”.

There is no question that the Liberty Media Braves have financially injured the taxpayers of the City of Atlanta and Fulton County with their planned exodus. Still, the City of Atlanta and Fulton and DeKalb Counties have some powerful weapons in their bat bags to make the Braves sit up and take notice. These remedies are available in the legal courts and in the even more powerful, court of public opinion. 

The baseball seasons for 2014, 2015 and 2016 are likely to see a significant drop in attendance at Turner Field. If enough folks in Metro Atlanta want to vent their outrage at this parasitic ploy, diminished viewership, diminished listenership and diminished readership of Liberty Media Braves baseball could also deliver a severe economic blow to the corporate heart of Liberty Media; and also to its beholden media outlets. 

Imagine the adverse monetary impact if fans let the Liberty Media Braves’ sponsors know how they feel about this latest example of MLB hubris … screwing and holding cities and their citizens’ hostage and raping their tax base. By not flying Delta or not drinking Coke or Bud or disconnecting AT&T, the will of the people would impact corporate P&Ls. Does BBBB have a ring to it? Boycott Braves Base Ball. If released, these Bs can really sting.

MLB Commissioner Bud Selig, the owner’s patsy, stood mute while the Liberty Media Braves took Atlanta to the woodshed. If the legendary Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis were the Commissioner of MLB today, he would not have tolerated this blatant, economic thievery. Landis saved the game of baseball as Commissioner after the Chicago Black Sox Scandal in 1919 through his iron-fisted intolerance of any kind of skullduggery concerning what was, in another era, called: “Baseball - America’s Pastime.” If he were to be confronted with this ParaSite gambit in Cobb County, he would have surely said: “Not in my daddy’s bloody battlefield”. 

This whole episode could play out as a Waterloo for the egregious, over-reaching of all professional sports vis a vis their benevolent, city hosts. Baseball might well end up, past its time, if it doesn’t shape up and fly right. There is a difference between what’s legal and what’s moral, especially in this Cobb ParaSite case. On both counts, the Liberty Media Braves have been caught off base.

The citizen, taxpayers of Atlanta and Fulton County should stage a bench-clearing brawl with the Liberty Media Braves in the absence of any stand-up leadership on the part of the Atlanta Mayor and the Georgia Governor. The best community, legal and business minds of the Major League City of Atlanta and Fulton County should not give up without a smart, tough, street fight even though the “wise-guys” from the Liberty Media Braves claim that “there’s no going back.” The City should throw Malone and his Braves a hard, inside, chin-high, 98 mph, fastball and make ‘em eat dirt.

The near 50-year history of the Braves organization in Atlanta clearly demonstrates that when challenged at clutch-time, they usually fold.

Michael G. McDonald

 

Marv Peck December 04, 2013 at 10:56 AM
What a great article! I agree with most of it. No need to quibble over a few minor details. I say Let's get it on! I have no intention to go and see a Braves game in Cobb County! Probably best to start the boycott now and let them know we are serious about this. Where do I sign up?

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