Atlanta Reacts to Braves Relocation Announcement
The team's announcement that they will build a new stadium in time for the 2017 baseball season stunned the community.
The Atlanta Braves announced this morning that they are building a brand new stadium and moving to Cobb County “in time for the first pitch of the 2017 season.” The land tract where the new facility will be built is less than 15 miles from Turner Field, accessible in under 20 minutes in light traffic and closer to the team’s core fan base.
Turner Field was built for the 1996 Olympic Games and was gifted to the City of Atlanta. Named after former Braves owner, Ted Turner, the stadium reportedly needs over $150 million in renovations and plans originally promised expanded access to public transportation. That never happened and the team failed to sell out a single one of its 2012 playoff games.
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“This decision to move was not easy and we have mixed emotions about leaving a ballpark that holds so many great memories. However, knowing that our lease will expire in 2016, we have devoted our time trying to secure the best option for our fans, our team and our organization,” said Braves management in a statement. “We believe this new site will be the best location for our fans and our organization for the next 30 years.”
The fan’s reactions are equally mixed though the one consistent reaction is one of shock.
“I was just absolutely floored when I heard the news,” Sandy Springs Councilman Gabriel Sterling told FrontDoor. “Whoever was in charge of keeping this under wraps should be made the head of the NSA.”
Sterling said that he already met with his city’s traffic engineers this morning to discuss the effects the move will have on his constituents as Sandy Springs shares its border with Cobb County. The Atlanta native said that he has many fond memories of going to the games downtown but is eager to see what the future holds for the new location.
“The downtown corridor around Turner Field was never really developed and it is not accessible by MARTA,” he said. “I’m just curious to see how it will affect the Cobb County taxpayers.”
Others residents are not as judicious as Sterling. Joshua Jackson, Editor in Chief of Paste Magazine, an Atlanta native who grew up a Braves fan, publicly renounced his team and said that he will no longer be a fan.
“Before I could walk, I was at the game when Hank Aaron broke the homerun record. I went to scores of games as a kid when the stadium was virtually empty and you could sit pretty much wherever you wanted,” said Jackson. “I was at the last game at Atlanta Fulton County Stadium, where Ted Turner gave a drunken, incoherent speech, and the first game at Turner Field. I still get chills when I see a replay of Sid Bream sliding safely into home to win the 1991 NLCS. If the Braves abandon Atlanta for the suburbs, I feel no compelling reason to follow. Four decades of fandom was enough.”
Scott Munn, founder of the wildly popular Thanks Bobby movement, said he'll follow the Braves anywhere.
"Atlanta loves the Braves. So let's be honest, we're going to go see them play ball wherever they want to set up shop," Munn told FrontDoor. "I look forward to learning more about it and seeing the plans."
According to Braves management, Turner Field is in need of major infrastructure work to the tune of $150 million. Seats are in need of replacing and the lighting needs upgrading.
“Those upgrades still wouldn’t address the logistical challenges outside the stadium, [including] lack of consistent mass transit options, inadequate number of parking spaces and limited access to major highways,” said the Braves’ statement. "If the Braves were to pay for additional projects focused on improving the fan experience, the additional costs could exceed $200 million."
Mayor Kasim Reed said that the City of Atlanta is speaking with “multiple organizations” that are interested in redeveloping the entire Turner Field corridor.
“At the end of the day, there was simply no way the team was going to stay in downtown Atlanta without city taxpayers spending hundreds of millions of dollars to make that happen,” Reed said in a statement. “It is my understanding that our neighbor, Cobb County, made a strong offer of $450 million in public support to the Braves and we are simply unwilling to match that with taxpayer dollars. Given the needs facing our city and the impact of Turner Field stadium on surrounding neighborhoods, that was something I, and many others were unwilling to do.”