Gwinnett County had until the end of the day Monday, August 31st to sell the naming rights for the new $65 million dollar, Gwinnett taxpayer paid for, Gwinnett Stadium. They failed to secure any takers.
A feasibility study that had been commissioned by the county (and paid for with more taxpayer dollars) estimated the naming rights would fetch $650,000 to $750,000 per year in a long-term deal. But Gwinnett was hoping for more: An internal financing document projected the county’s portion at $500,000 per year, meaning the name would have to sell for at least $850,000.
Again, they received nothing.
To add insult to injury now that Gwinnett County and the Gwinnett Convention and Visitors Bureau have failed to acquire corporate sponsorship, the Braves will have the right to sell the naming rights and keep more of the money.
Still, three of Gwinnett County’s top elected officials say they stand by their decision to put taxpayer money into the stadium — which now carries a $64 million price tag — even as they slash scores of county jobs and cut services amid a recession.
“Our board was completely unanimous on baseball Jan. 15 of last year (2008), and I think our board will be completely unanimous on baseball today,” said Commissioner Bert Nasuti, the project’s chief proponent.
Gwinnett Board of Commissioners Chairman Charles Bannister, Commissioner Kevin Kenerly and Nasuti said they would have voted for financing the stadium last year even if they had known what they know now about the economy and the county’s finances.
“I think we would have voted for it,” Bannister said. “It would have been much cleaner — perhaps prettier — publicwise if all the dollars had been in the accounting upfront.”
Gwinnett County Administrator Jock Connell, claimed last year that the stadium “would pay for itself from day one.” Jock Connell is taking a Gwinnett County taxpayer paid incentive to retire at the end of this year.