When the Braves dumped Atlanta to shack up with Cobb, this gay Atlanta guy bragged about it. Turns out, Brooks Mathis wasn't just selling the surprise move to anyone who would listen, he orchestrated the relocation and worked to hide it from the public.
Last year, we dubbed Mathis the (attractive) gay apologist for the Braves as he tried to convince the public that the move to Cobb was a good thing. That was before extensive reporting by the AJC uncovered that Mathis, vice president of economic development for the Cobb Chamber, was a key player in stealing the Braves from Atlanta. He worked with Cobb Commission Chair Tim Lee to cover their tracks with a secret code name, hire an attorney to negotiate with the Braves and sketchy behind-the-scenes work that later resulted in ethics complaints.
How much of a role did Mathis play in the deal? Huge.
Project Intrepid was the code name Lee and Brooks Mathis, the Cobb Chamber’s executive vice president of economic development, gave the Braves deal. The AJC received the email last week through an open records request.
Mathis played a key role from the beginning — he found the land for the Braves development, facilitated the initial meeting in July 2013 between Lee and McRae, and authored the email hiring Seyfarth Shaw.
But it was all on the hush-hush.
The Braves negotiations — and [attorney Dan] McRae’s involvement in them — were so secret that Lee and chamber of commerce officials thought it needed a code name.
They came up with “Project Intrepid.”
The first meeting between Lee and McRae happened in July 2013, with Cobb Chamber executive vice president Brooks Mathis playing intermediary.
An email from McRae’s legal assistant to Mathis setting up the meeting had in the subject line: “Project Intrepid — Confidential.” Documents reviewed by the newspaper indicate that McRae’s negotiations with the Braves started within weeks of that meeting.
Mathis was so critical to the project, he became the sole contact for the Braves.
Lee and Brooks Mathis, a vice president of economic development for Cobb’s Chamber of Commerce, were the only two county officials privy to the secret negotiations with the Braves that culminated in Monday’s announcement of a $672 million development in the heart of the Cobb Parkway commerce district.
Mathis became the sole contact for Braves officials shortly after Lee’s initial meeting. He’s not sure exactly how many times they met, but his job was to find them a site and field cleanly all questions hurled his way.
“I was the only one involved, to keep it very confidential,” Mathis said. “We met quite frequently. It really didn’t differ from other projects as far as the path we took. But obviously it’s one of the largest projects we’ve worked on.”
Mathis was back on WSB this week, talking up the proposed commercial development the Braves hope to create around SunTrust Park. (Watch above)
"People book three or four years in advance or renew existing convention contracts and I know it's a popular thing for them because it gives folks something to do while they’re here in the hotel, after the convention," Mathis said.
All this from a guy who lives in Midtown and doesn't even like the Braves.
One thing Mathis is very certain of: He’s going to be seeing more baseball games. “I can’t say I was a fan,” he said. “But I am now.”