New Atlanta Braves stadium

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New Atlanta Braves Stadium
Location Cumberland (Atlanta), Georgia 30339[1]
Broke ground 2014 (planned)
Opened 2017 (planned)
Owner Cobb-Marietta Coliseum and Exhibit Hall Authority[2]
Operator Atlanta National League Baseball Club Inc.[2]
Surface Grass
Construction cost $672 million[2]
Architect Populous[3]
Capacity 42,000[2]
Tenants
Atlanta Braves (MLB) (2017–future) (estimated)

The Atlanta Braves' new stadium is a proposed baseball park in the Cumberland/Galleria area of Cobb County, Georgia, northwest of Atlanta, that will serve as the home of the Major League Baseball (MLB) team. The Braves' lease at Turner Field expires at the end of the 2016 season.

Background[edit]

Turner Field has been the home of the Atlanta Braves since 1997. It was originally built as Centennial Olympic Stadium for the 1996 Summer Olympics, then partially reconstructed as a baseball-only stadium for the 1997 baseball season, eliminating the possibility of other sporting event uses such as track and field. The stadium is owned by the Atlanta-Fulton County Recreation Authority (AFCRA) and leased to the Braves, who have full control over its operations. According to team president John Schuerholz, Turner Field needs $350 million in renovations—$150 million for structural upkeep and $200 million to improve the fan experience.[4]

Braves executives have said transportation issues make it difficult for fans to come to games. The stadium is 0.75 miles (1.21 km) from the nearest MARTA train station. Although MARTA runs a shuttle service on game days, the Braves claim that fans have been unwilling to come to games in recent years due to metro Atlanta's infamous congestion. The Braves also have said that parking around the stadium is inadequate.[4] In addition, team VP for business operations Mike Plant has noted the downtown location "doesn't match up with where the majority of our fans come from."[5] Plant said that while the Braves operate Turner Field, they have no control over the commercial development around the stadium. Other baseball stadiums built in recent years have been accompanied by nearby shopping and entertainment.[6]

The Braves were in talks in 2013 with the recreational authority to extend the team's original lease, Plant said, but those talks broke down. Atlanta mayor Kasim Reed said the city could not afford to support the kind of renovations the Braves desired, especially while already funding a new stadium for the NFL's Atlanta Falcons.[6]

New stadium plans[edit]

A rendering of the new stadium, with the surrounding entertainment complex.

Instead of renovating Turner Field, the Braves stunned many with a surprise announcement on November 11, 2013, that they would vacate the ballpark after 2016 for a new stadium to be built in Cobb County, north of Atlanta, following the expiration of their lease.[4] The stadium will be located next to the highway interchange between Interstate 75 and Interstate 285, the result of a secret deal with Cobb County Commission chairman Tim Lee, who did not tell other commissioners.[7] The 60-acre (24 ha) site is currently pine and oak-hickory forest, except for a strip crossed by a petroleum pipeline, and is the last large undeveloped tract of land in the area.[where?]

The team said it plans to sell the naming rights to the ballpark.[4] The stadium will not have a roof. Braves officials anticipate a capacity between 41,000 and 42,000,[4] which is approximately 8,000 fewer than Turner Field.[8] On November 20, 2013, the Braves unveiled plans to build a $400 million entertainment district that will surround the ballpark. Parking spaces will number about 6,000, which is 2,500 fewer than at Turner Field. [9] The Braves plan to utilize thousands of additional parking spaces surrounding the stadium, including the Cobb Galleria area. These parking spaces will be connected to the stadium via a circulator shuttle. There are approximately 30,000 parking spaces within 2 miles of the proposed stadium site. [10]

The new stadium will be located in Cumberland/Galleria area, a fast-growing edge city in southeastern Cobb County.[1] However, it will have an Atlanta address due to its location in ZIP code 30339, which is shared with the neighboring community of Vinings. The United States Postal Service considers this area to be unincorporated Atlanta. The Braves say the location is "near the geographic center of the Braves' fan base."[11]

The new stadium will be constructed in a public/private partnership.[12] The projected cost is $672 million.[4] It will occupy 15 acres (6.1 ha) of a 60-acre (24 ha) lot, with the remainder of the space devoted to parking, green space, and mixed-use development.[4] While it will be owned on paper by Cobb County, the Braves will not only operate the stadium, but will also control the commercial development around it.

Although the new stadium will be over 10 miles (16 km) from the nearest train station, the Braves plan to use a "circulator" bus system to shuttle fans to and from the stadium.[6] As of December 2013, the Braves have had no apparent contact with MARTA (which does not serve Cobb County), Cobb Community Transit or any part of the Cobb Department of Transportation on how traffic handling.

The team estimates construction will begin in the second half of 2014.[13]

Public reaction[edit]

After the new stadium was announced, citizens organized campaigns both supporting and opposing the plan, which was made public only two weeks before the Cobb County Commission voted 4–1 to approve a memorandum of understanding with the Braves. More than 80 percent of county residents supported delaying the vote,[14] which the commission declined to do. A poll released the day after the announcement showed that only 30% of Cobb County residents supported using tax funds for the stadium, especially in light of studies that have showed very little economic impact from other publicly funded stadiums. The same poll showed that only 40% would re-elect county commissioners who voted to use tax money for the project.

A robocall push polled residents of Cobb County on November 15, 2013, asking such questions as, "Does knowing that the new comprehensive transportation plan already exists and is fully funded make it more or less likely you'll support the Braves' move to Cobb?" It is unknown who funded the robocalls.[15]

A former Libertarian Congressional candidate, Loren Collins, established a website called 300millionreasons.com to oppose the public financing of the stadium.[15][16]

The Atlanta Tea Party and local Sierra Club teamed up for a rally against the stadium plan on November 18, 2013, and lobbied Cobb County commissioners to vote against the proposal.[15][17][18]

Common Cause Georgia, which also steadfastly opposed the new Atlanta Falcons stadium plan, campaigned for a public referendum on the stadium, which will have 45% public funding from existing property taxes currently used to pay for parkland, as well as increased taxes on businesses (including apartments and their residents) in the Cumberland community improvement district. It also petitioned for a referendum regarding the Falcons stadium to be built in Atlanta, using only 20% public funds from the hotel tax there, which is paid by visitors instead of residents.[19]

Fans are also concerned about ticket prices, which have risen dramatically at other new MLB stadiums, plus increased food prices.[20]

Mayor Reed, who also did not tell anyone about the plans, including the Atlanta City Council for four days,[21] said that Turner Field would be demolished after 2016 and converted into mixed-use development.[22] However, some council members[who?] intend to pursue a deal with the Braves to keep them in the city.[citation needed] Others have suggested using it for Georgia State University,[citation needed] which already uses the facility student parking, and whose current baseball stadium is located in the suburb of Panthersville, even farther out of the city than the Braves will be. Others have also suggested returning track and field to the stadium in a "down-sized" renovated stadium able to host annual world track events.

Construction[edit]

On April 16, 2014, Atlanta Braves and Cobb County officials outlined the timetable for the new stadium's construction.[23] Site clearing is scheduled to begin July 15. Grading for the entire site is to be complete by December 23. Construction will begin February 18, 2015 with substantial completion by Jan. 24, 2017, and final completion by Feb. 21, 2017.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Severson, Kim (November 17, 2013). "With Braves Set to Move, a Broader Look at Atlanta". The New York Times. Retrieved November 17, 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c d Tucker, Tim (November 14, 2013). "Comparing Braves, Falcons stadium deals". The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Retrieved February 11, 2014. 
  3. ^ Tucker, Tim (January 28, 2014). "Braves Select Architect Populous to Design Stadium". The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Retrieved February 11, 2014. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g Tucker, Tim (November 11, 2013). "Braves Plan to Build New Stadium in Cobb". The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Retrieved November 11, 2013. 
  5. ^ Galloway, Jim (November 14, 2012). "Watching the Falcons Stadium Debate, the Braves Pursue Something Different". The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Retrieved November 11, 2013. 
  6. ^ a b c Henry, George (November 11, 2013). "Braves Planning New Suburban Stadium in 2017". ABC News. Associated Press. Retrieved November 11, 2013. 
  7. ^ "Atlanta Braves Announce Plans to Move to New Stadium". USA Today. November 11, 2013. Retrieved November 11, 2013. 
  8. ^ "Turner Field / Atlanta Braves". Ballpark Digest. April 18, 2012. Retrieved November 11, 2013. 
  9. ^ "Plans for Braves Complex Begin to Take Shape". The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. November 16, 2013. Retrieved November 20, 2013. 
  10. ^ Bluestein, Greg; Tucker, Tim (November 20, 2013). "Atlanta Braves Plan $400 Million Entertainment District Surrounding New Cobb Stadium". The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Retrieved November 20, 2013. 
  11. ^ "Overview". Major League Baseball Advanced Media. Retrieved November 11, 2013. 
  12. ^ Calcaterra, Craig (November 11, 2013). "The Braves Are Leaving Turner Field After the 2016 Season". NBC Sports. Retrieved November 11, 2013. 
  13. ^ "Braves Leaving Turner Field, Building New Stadium in Cobb Co.". WAGA (Atlanta). November 11, 2013a. Retrieved November 11, 2013. 
  14. ^ Galloway, Jim (November 22, 2013). "81 Percent of Cobb Voters Want to Delay Braves Decision, Poll Says". The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Retrieved November 22, 2013. 
  15. ^ a b c Bluestein, Greg; Galloway, Jim; Malloy, Daniel (November 18, 2013). "Pro and Con Campaigns on Braves Stadium Get Underway". The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Retrieved November 20, 2013. 
  16. ^ Parker, Wendy (November 18, 2013). "Anti-Braves Stadium Website, Petition Created". Smyrna-Vinings Patch (Patch Media). Retrieved November 20, 2013. 
  17. ^ Rodriguez, Natalie (November 19, 2013). "Atlanta Tea Party Lobbies To Block $672M Braves Stadium". Law360. Retrieved November 20, 2013. 
  18. ^ Cassidy, Christina A. (November 19, 2013). "Tea Party Group to Mobilize Against Braves Stadium". The Huffington Post. Associated Press. Retrieved November 20, 2013. 
  19. ^ Leslie, Katie (November 19, 2013). "Common Cause Georgia Calls for Referendum Over Braves Stadium Plans". The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Retrieved November 20, 2013. 
  20. ^ Tucker, Tim (December 13, 2013). "Braves, Falcons Fans Brace for Higher Prices in New Stadiums". The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Retrieved February 11, 2014. 
  21. ^ Leslie, Katie (December 20, 2013). "In Braves’ fallout, city emails show Reed team in triage mode". The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Retrieved April 18, 2014. 
  22. ^ Leslie, Katie (November 13, 2013). "Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed promises enormous middle-class development at Turner Field". The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Retrieved April 18, 2014. 
  23. ^ Tucker, Tim (April 16, 2014). "Braves, Cobb detail stadium construction schedule mode". The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Retrieved April 18, 2014. 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Turner Field
Home of the
Atlanta Braves

in 2017 (planned)
Succeeded by
Future