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Minor league baseball: Braves to sign deal Monday

LAWRENCEVILLE - A deal to bring a minor league Braves team to Gwinnett is expected to be signed Monday.

Gwinnett Convention and Visitors Bureau attorney Lee Tucker said the agreement will likely be signed Monday morning, as officials are expected to close Tuesday on the sale of $33 million in general obligation bonds to fund construction. The county approved the use of $7 million in recreation fund money for construction, as well as the purchase of the stadium site for $5 million.

The Atlanta Regional Commission issued approval of the development plans, which also include retail and restaurant construction on Buford Drive, between Old Peachtree Road and Rock Springs Road. So officials plan to pursue the issuance of a land disturbance permit this week to begin construction immediately.

Neither Tucker nor Braves officials responded to inquiries Friday.

According to a draft of the contract released Friday, 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.

While club home games and Braves events will take precedence, the county will be allowed to hold up to 10 events at the stadium each year.

The proposed contract outlines the financial obligations, including a $250,000 annual rent from the Braves, plus a $1 per ticket fee, a minimum of $400,000. The team will retain any profits from concessions and selling signs around the facility and will receive the first $350,000 from any agreement on naming rights of the stadium. The team will operate the parking lot and will split revenues with the convention and visitors bureau.

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

While the team will be responsible for routine maintenance, the bureau will be responsible for preparing an ongoing three-year capital maintenance plan for structural, systems or integral components, such as the foundation, scoreboards, air condition, escalators and parking lot. Last week, the bureau's board discussed beginning a $500,000 fund, which must be filled by 2013.