Cobb County taxpayers are paying county police officers overtime to direct traffic outside of the SunTrust Park development during games and special events, at an estimated cost of $900,000 per year, an Atlanta Journal-Constitution investigation found.
Traffic control is an expense the Braves paid during their last eight seasons at Turner Field, and one the Falcons will pay when Mercedes-Benz Stadium opens this fall, the AJC found. Traffic management at Mercedes-Benz Stadium is estimated to cost $2.5 million a year for football games, soccer matches and special events.
The exclusive AJC report also found that the Stadium Operating Agreement, which details most stadium obligations for the team and county, does not mention the public obligation for traffic control and instead only focuses on the Braves responsibility for security inside SunTrust Park and the team’s mixed-use development.
Former county manager David Hankerson, who recently retired, said the county was told that the city of Atlanta paid for traffic control outside of Turner Field and was surprised to learn that the Braves paid for traffic control in Atlanta.
In a statement, the Braves said the city of Atlanta paid for traffic control during their first 43 years in town, but the team was asked to begin absorbing those costs about 2009 — when the Great Recession decimated municipal budgets as property values tanked.