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Contract bringing Braves AAA farm team to Gwinnett signed Tuesday

LAWRENCEVILLE - A contract officially bringing the Braves' AAA farm team to Gwinnett was signed Tuesday.

The 30-page contract, with an additional 41 pages of exhibits including stadium schematics and insurance information, deals with everything from naming rights for the stadium to who is required to mow the lawn.

After the contract was signed by representatives from the Braves, the county and the Gwinnett Convention and Visitors Bureau, the county closed on the $5 million, 12-acre stadium site and sold $33 million worth of bonds to fund the project.

Lee Tucker, an attorney negotiating the contract and convention and visitors bureau Chairman Richard Tucker's son, said he was pleased with the end result.

"I think it's a fair deal," he said. "We negotiated very hard."

One of the early points of contention, whether the Braves could summarily dismiss some potential companies from naming the stadium, was worked out after much discussion, Lee Tucker said.

The contract says that while the team has the right to review and approve the stadium name, that approval will not be "unreasonably withheld." The bureau will work "in good faith" regarding the naming rights, it says.

"We understand the Braves' sensitivity with certain sponsors," Lee Tucker said. "Nobody's definitively off the table."

The bureau will have until Aug. 31, 2009, to secure naming rights on its own, after which the Braves will step in to help. If the bureau is able to secure a name, the Braves will get the first $350,000 of that agreement and Gwinnett will get the rest. If the team's help is required, both the Braves and the bureau will get $350,000 - with the Braves getting the first $350,000, if the total is less than $700,000 - then the two groups will split the rest of the proceeds.

The Braves will pay $250,000 a year to use the stadium, plus $1 for each ticket sold; at least $400,000 additionally. The team will get all money from concessions and selling signs around the facility. The team will operate the parking lot and will split revenues with the convention and visitors bureau.

The county will be permitted to have 10 events at the stadium each year.

The contract says the stadium should be ready for use by March 1, 2009, with the first games able to start April 1. If the stadium is not finished by March 20, the bureau is responsible for finding another venue where the team can play.

The Braves will be the exclusive tenants of the stadium through 2038, although the team can terminate the contract after the 2023 baseball season if there are disagreements about maintenance.

The contract also says that both the bureau and the Braves will work to implement water conservation infrastructure.

And while the bureau is responsible for big projects like scoreboards and escalators, the Braves will take care of the lawn on the stadium on Buford Drive, between Old Peachtree Road and Rock Springs Road.

Lee Tucker said a related mixed-use development is still in the planning stages, but no requests for regional review have been made yet.

Senior Writer Camie Young contributed to this article.