Helping give Cobb the EDGE - Economic Development Director Brooks Mathis talks about luring the Atlanta Braves to county
by Jennifer Hafer
January 13, 2014 12:00 AM | 1799 views | 2 2 comments | 25 25 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Brooks Mathis at the site of where the new stadium will be constructed. Right: A graphic of where the stadium will be located. (Photo and illustration by Sam Bennett)
Brooks Mathis at the site of where the new stadium will be constructed. Right: A graphic of where the stadium will be located. (Photo and illustration by Sam Bennett)
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CUMBERLAND - It wasn't a shady deal worked out in a back alley, but rather the deal to lure the Atlanta Braves to Cobb County started with a lunch at the Marietta Country Club.
 
"Chairman (Tim) Lee had lunch with (state Rep.) Earl Ehrhart, and at that time we knew the Braves had been looking at options to help them move into their next phase," said Brooks Mathis, vice president & executive director of economic development for the Cobb Chamber and Cobb EDGE. "During that lunch Rep. Ehrhart and Chairman Lee discussed an introduction to the Braves team management, and that introduction happened."
 
Following that introduction, Mathis said he received a call from Lee asking if there were any suitable sites in Cobb for a mixed-use development, the centerpiece of which would be a new baseball stadium.
 
"I immediately thought of site they ended up choosing," Mathis recalled. "The site is roughly 60 acres, and the stadium will go on approximately 14 acres. The remaining acres will be developed for mixed use; sports bars, residential, offices, shops and restaurants and potential hotels."
 
Located near Cumberland Mall, the $672 million Cobb County stadium, as well as a projected $400 million mixed-use development that would accompany it, is scheduled to open in April 2017. The open-air, 41,000-seat stadium will be owned by the Cobb-Marietta Coliseum and Exhibit Hall Authority. The mixed-use development would be built and owned by the Braves.
 
The $400 million development is projected to yield yearly revenues of about $6 million in property taxes with more than $3 million for the Cobb School District.
 
"We're projecting 5,000 one-time construction jobs, with construction ongoing for about three years," Mathis said. "Those jobs will temporarily boost our economic development numbers, but there's also the long-term influence on jobs in area." 
 
According to a report commissioned by the county, Cobb County officials and the Braves expect more than $1 billion in public and private money will be spent building the stadium and the mixed-use complex. The study projects 13,625 direct jobs - either building facilities or running them - will result.
 
While critics and supporters alike debate the tangible benefits of the project, intangible benefits like brand awareness and reputation building are already happening, according to Mathis.
 
"If you didn't already know about Cobb County, you did when the national media were quoting the Marietta Daily Journal," he said. "There will be flyovers above the stadium for every game, which will allow viewers to see the area surrounding the stadium. There are a lot of marketing opportunities we could never ever ever have been able to afford to showcase our community."
 
The Braves deal not only shows that Cobb County is open for business, but that county officials are discreet, too. For a variety of reasons, including employee angst, competitive edge and fair pricing, companies looking to relocate or expand often ask for discretion, Mathis said, noting Novelis Research and Development's move to Cobb County almost two years ago that brought 150 jobs, or when the Home Depot call center moved its operations and 700 employees to Cobb; these deals were also confidential until complete.
 
"We can keep a secret," Mathis said. "I think that sends a good message about how we can get things done effectively in Cobb. There have been multiple deals in which we've kept things quiet, not to be secretive, but to help the company make the best decision. We've not just done it for the Braves."
 
Brooks Mathis

Age: 31

Title: Vice President, and Executive Director Economic Development at Cobb Chamber of Commerce & Cobb EDGE

Education: Shorter College B.A., Communications

Previous experience: Business Development at Electric Cities of Georgia; Regional Project Manager, Northwest Georgia, Georgia Department of Economic Development (December 2007 – June 2010); Director of Annual Fundraising, Darlington School (July 2006 – January 2008); and Director of Communications, Greater Rome Chamber of Commerce (2004 – 2006).
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Anamoose
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January 14, 2014
"We can keep a secret," Mathis said. "I think that sends a good message about how we can get things done effectively in Cobb. There have been multiple deals in which we've kept things quiet, not to be secretive, but to help the company (But not the citizens) make the best decision. We've not just done it for the Braves."

Oligarchy-a form of power structure in which power effectively rests with a small number of people.

Democracy- a form of government in which all eligible citizens participate equally.

Where is the democracy here?

As Mr. Mathis has indicated, we clearly cannot trust our elected or appointed leaders.

Eventually, all stadiums are surrounded by poverty. Taxpayers pay and pay and pay. I am not getting a good return on this commission that I am paying for.

Jrog
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January 13, 2014
"We can keep a secret," Mathis said. "I think that sends a good message about how we can get things done effectively in Cobb. There have been multiple deals in which we've kept things quiet, not to be secretive, but to help the company make the best decision. We've not just done it for the Braves."

No, and you have not done it for residents of Cobb County, Smyrna or Marietta. You have done it "in secret" to fatten your resume. Transparency is unimportant to people like you, Mr. Mathis. We would like to have been asked if we wanted that behemoth at Cumberland where the traffic is horrible already. Maybe, if others had been privy to your "secret", another, more practical and effective site could have been chosen. This is just another example of greed overcoming intelligent planning.
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