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Emails show deep frustration between City Hall and Braves

12:51 AM, Dec 20, 2013   |    comments
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ATLANTA -- Hundreds of emails were released on Thursday by the city of Atlanta, detailing the back-and-forth between the Reed administration and the Braves in the months before the team abruptly decided to move to Cobb County.

The communications show that the Braves and a team of negotiators from City Hall had been in discussions for a year regarding improvements and development around Turner Field, including a possible magnetic tram to convey fans to the stadium.

But somebody dropped the ball and critical meetings were cancelled, while the city tackled plans for the new Falcons football stadium. The Braves were clearly furious at the snubs and announced after the November elections that they were gone.

The city says they were blind-sided.

"As late as September 19th, they were still communicating with us," said Mayor Reed's spokesman Carlos Campos.

"And (Deputy COO) Hans Utz had told them 'We'll get back to you in mid-November.' Before we could get back to them, they abruptly and without warning announced they were moving to Cobb County."

It was now the city's turn to be angry.

They felt all along that the Braves were demanding too much. And when Utz, who led the negotiations to keep the team at the Ted, learned they were now leaving, he chose his words poorly, throwing out the name "Cobb Crackers," plus one more we can't print.

He was suspended three days without pay.

"Well, I know Hans Utz to be a sharp guy," said city councilman Michael Bond. "I'm very disappointed in his comments. I want the people in Cobb county and Smyrna to know that the people of Atlanta don't feel that way about them. We want the Braves to stay in Atlanta. We still hold out hope that they will. But a situation like this makes things like that very, very difficult."

Bond remains remarkably optimistic.

He says the deal in Cobb is still not set in stone and that the Braves can easily exercise their option to stay at Turned Field for another five years. Something they might do, he says, if hidden expenses with the new stadium start popping up like infrastructure costs, which he believes could add another 100-million dollars to the deal.

He says it's going to cost $60 million just to move the new Falcons stadium 50-yards. He expects the price to be much more than that for Cobb, starting their stadium from scratch.

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