Atlanta Braves name street for Tim Lee, late county chairman who brought team to Cobb

Credit: Hunter Riggall hriggall@mdjonline.com

Credit: Hunter Riggall hriggall@mdjonline.com

It’s a story Atlanta Braves executive Mike Plant likes to tell.

“About nine years ago, we all had the opportunity to put our boots on, and many of us walked through these woods,” he said Wednesday morning on a street corner in The Battery Atlanta. “And here we stand today, and obviously it looks a lot different. The Battery has been a tremendous success, Truist Park, and obviously our team. And we know a lot of that is because of Tim.”

Plant was referring to Tim Lee, who served as chairman of the Cobb Board of Commissioners from 2010 to 2016, and who is best remembered for orchestrating the deal that brought the Braves to Cobb County.

Lee died of cancer in 2019, age 62. On Wednesday, Braves executives, county officials and Lee’s family gathered to christen Tim Lee Way — a street in the Battery named in his honor.

Annette Lee, the late chairman’s widow, pulled a black cover off the new street sign marking the corner of Battery Avenue and Tim Lee Way.

The newly named road is between Silverspot Cinema and Savi Provisions. From there it runs north, then west, looping around the back of the movie theater and connecting to Cobb Parkway.

“And I know he might say, ‘Nice, it's only just a street sign. That's all I get?’” joked Plant, the president and CEO of the Braves Development Company. “But for us, I know we can commit to, and certainly guarantee, millions of people are going to see that every single year for decades to come.”

Lisa Cupid, chair of the Cobb Board of Commissioners, also spoke of the millions of visitors that Truist Park and the Battery attract annually, calling the mixed-use development Lee’s legacy.

“The Battery attracted 9 million visitors just in 2021. … Just last year, Truist Park I believe had the second highest attendance in Major League Baseball, with 2.3 million visitors here to this site,” Cupid said. “Beyond the fun and the games, some people when they come to the Battery, they're coming to work. And more than 5,000 employees come to this site every day to work, whether it be in entertainment, retail and also in hospitality and more.”

ExploreBraves smash Truist Park single-season attendance record

Among the attendees Wednesday were Lee’s children and grandchildren, Cobb Commissioner JoAnn Birrell, County Manager Jackie McMorris, and Braves executives Terry McGuirk and Derek Schiller.

Lee was a Chicago native who came to Cobb in the mid-1980s and worked in marketing and advertising. He was elected to the county commission in 2002. In 2010, he replaced Sam Olens as chairman when Olens stepped down to run for attorney general.

Lee was elected to a four-year term in 2012. A year later came the bombshell news that the Braves would leave downtown Atlanta and build a new stadium in Cumberland. Lee struck a deal with the Braves to provide about $300 million in public financing for the stadium, which the Board of Commissioners approved.

“He had this entrepreneurial spirit, which was different than we've obviously experienced in certain government leaders,” Plant said. “He just operated like a businessman.”

The deal was controversial and survived criticism and legal challenges. But before the first pitch was thrown in the stadium, Lee lost his reelection bid, falling in the 2016 Republican primary to Mike Boyce.

Boyce had argued that the county should have held a referendum on the stadium deal. For many, Lee’s signature accomplishment had also cost him his job.

“He always did the right thing no matter what the consequences to him or his career,” Annette Lee said Wednesday.

In the years since, the Battery has continued to grow. The mix of apartments, retail, restaurants and entertainment has attracted corporate offices for Comcast, Papa John’s and TK Elevator. Truist, the bank who owns the naming rights to the park, plans to build a new office tower behind the stadium.

Annette Lee said her husband was committed to advancing economic development, but also did much to promote parks, trails and greenspaces. Plant called him “an incredibly bold leader” who left an “indelible fingerprint” on the Braves’ success, including its 2021 World Series victory.

“Leadership is not about being the best, leadership is about making everyone else better,” Annette Lee said.


Credit: Marietta Daily Journal

Credit: Marietta Daily Journal

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