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Conflict of Interest Charge Raised in Braves Stadium Vote

A developer who also serves on a community development board rejects charges that he has a conflict of interest in plans to develop the area around a new Atlanta Braves stadium.

This is what the Atlanta Braves' Cobb County stadium might look like on Opening Night in 2017. Credit: Atlanta Braves.
This is what the Atlanta Braves' Cobb County stadium might look like on Opening Night in 2017. Credit: Atlanta Braves.

An executive in a metro development company who also serves on the board of a Cumberland business district rejects claims he had a conflict of interest in plans for the new Atlanta Braves stadium.

The Braves in November announced their plans to move to from Turner Field to a $672 million stadium in Cobb in 2017. Mason Zimmerman was among the Cumberland Community Improvement District board members who voted Nov. 19 to commit $10 million to transportation upgrades, reports The Atlanta Journal-Constitution in its subscriber edition.

The district’s board also made a non-binding vote to support the creation of a special taxing district, later approved by county commissioners, which will generate $5.1 million annually to help pay county bonds for the ballpark.

Three months after the Cumberland CID board’s vote, the development company where Mason Zimmerman works is a finalist to build the $400 million entertainment district the Braves plan to develop around the ballpark, the newspaper reports.

Critics say Zimmerman’s dual roles were a conflict of interest, and he should have recused himself.

Zimmerman strongly disagrees, telling the newspaper the vote came well before his company, Pope & Land Enterprises, knew enough about the project to consider bidding for the lead developer role.

“The vote was about the prospect of the Braves (moving) and how can we facilitate it,” Zimmerman told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. His vote, he said, had “no connection whatsoever to what might happen in the future.”

Zimmerman is a senior vice president in the firm that could make millions of dollars if picked by the Braves to handle the project, the newspaper reported last week.

Cobb County has created a special Web page to keep residents informed on progress with the Braves stadium project.

This site includes answers to frequently asked questions, copies of agreements, information on changes to county codes related to the project, plans for preparing for the new stadium and more.

Recently added is a communications plan for the project that outlines the county's framework for sharing our progress.

The next public hearing concerning county code amendments creating special districts for the stadium project is scheduled for Feb. 25 at 100 Cherokee Street in Marietta.
Tim February 19, 2014 at 09:09 AM
Not only is it a conflict of interest to have voted as part of the CID, one could also venture a guess that he and his company possibly have an unfair advantage over other development companies since he was a part of earlier discussions.
Richard "the Equalizer" Pellegrino February 19, 2014 at 10:57 AM
This is nothing but the old "Cobb Way": back room deals and corruption. The CGT (Cobb Citizens for Governmental Transparency) will be visiting with the Cobb Ethics Board regarding this and a whole list of other issues....anyone who would like to participate feel free to contact us at cobbcoalition@gmail.com .
Reality February 19, 2014 at 11:19 PM
I prefer Cobb politics anyday over Kasim Reed and his atlanta politics
Richard "the Equalizer" Pellegrino February 20, 2014 at 09:26 AM
Really....back room deals, crony capitalism, corporate welfare....its all corruption whether in Cobb, ATL, etc....Cobb has just been getting away with it longer hidden from view. Thankfully, now it is all coming out. (I thank the Braves for at least helping to do that...though unwittingly.)

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