New Atlanta Braves stadium
|New Atlanta Braves Stadium|
|Location||Cumberland (Atlanta), Georgia 30339|
|Broke ground||July 2014 (planned)|
|Opened||February 21, 2017 (planned)|
|Owner||Cobb-Marietta Coliseum and Exhibit Hall Authority|
|Operator||Atlanta National League Baseball Club Inc.|
|Construction cost||$622 million|
|General contractor||American Builders 2017 (A joint venture between Brasfield & Gorie, Mortenson Construction, Barton Malow and New South Construction)|
|Atlanta Braves (MLB) (2017–future) (estimated)|
The Atlanta Braves' new stadium is a proposed baseball park in the Cumberland 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. Instead of renovating Turner Field, the Braves announced 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.
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. Braves executive vice president Mike Plant has stated that capital maintenance would be much less at the new stadium. According to Plant, Turner Field was value engineered for the 1996 Summer Olympics. This has led to higher capital maintenance costs in the long run. Plant estimates that capital maintenance costs at the new stadium will be no more than $80 million after 30 years. That is significantly less than the $150 million in capital maintenance needed for Turner Field after 17 years.
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. 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." 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.
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.
New stadium plans
The stadium will be in Cumberland (also known as Cumberland/Galleria area), a fast-growing edge city in southeastern Cobb County. The ballpark will be located next to the highway interchange between Interstate 75 and Interstate 285. The stadium 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."
The team said it plans to sell the naming rights to the ballpark. Braves officials anticipate a capacity of about 41,500, which is approximately 8,000 fewer than Turner Field. 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. 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.
The new stadium will be constructed in a public/private partnership with a project budget of $622 million. Cobb County will contribute $392 million. The county is raising $368 million through bonds, $14 million from transportation taxes, and $10 million cash from businesses in the Cumberland Community Improvement District. The Braves will contribute the remaining $230 million, which can be increased up to $280 million at the team’s discretion.
The baseball stadium 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. 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.
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. More than 80 percent of county residents supported delaying the vote, Cobb Chairman Tim Lee and Commissioner Helen Goreham insisted that vote could not be delayed because it would threaten the stadium's timeline. A InsiderAdvantage/FOX 5 poll released on November 25, 2013 showed that 59 percent of registered voters in Cobb County favored building a new stadium for the Braves. However, support fell to 30 percent of Cobb County voters when they were asked if they'd support funding the stadium with Cobb County tax dollars, with 56 percent opposed and 14 percent undecided.
A former Libertarian Congressional candidate, Loren Collins, established a website called 300millionreasons.com to oppose the public financing of the stadium. 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. Common Cause Georgia, which also steadfastly opposed the new Atlanta Falcons stadium plan, campaigned for a public referendum on the stadium.
Two weeks after the Atlanta Braves announced the new stadium project, the Cobb County Commission held a public hearing to vote on whether to approve the plan. Citizens who both supported and opposed the plan began crowding into the meeting hall hours before the 7 p.m. hearing was to begin, many sporting "Cobb: Home of the Braves" T-shirts. After a one hour public comment on the new stadium project the Cobb County Commission voted 4–1 to approve a memorandum of understanding with the Atlanta Braves. On May 27, 2014, the Cobb County Commissioners voted unanimously, 5–0, on the operating agreement that bound the county to borrow up to $397 million to build the new stadium.
The Atlanta Braves announced on January 28, 2014 that Populous would be designing the new ballpark. Populous, formerly named HOK Sport has designed 19 of the 30 Major League stadiums currently in use including the new Marlins Park, Target Field, and Yankee Stadium. The Braves chose Populous over HKS Arquitectos. HKS is based in Dallas and served as a consultant for the Braves prior to the selection of Populous.
On May 14, 2014, the Atlanta Braves released the first renderings of the new stadium. The ballpark will be oriented to the southwest. Only a handful of other Major League ballparks have a southwest orientation; however, Atlanta Braves officials said that a comprehensive sun study was conducted by the team and designers and the orientation will not be an issue. The seven images released by the Braves showcased the new ballpark as well as unique shops, restaurants and entertainment venues. Plus, the plan is for the complex to offer approximately 500 residences, a boutique hotel, and office space.
The ballpark will feature an intimate configuration placing the highest percentage of seats closer to the field than any other ball park in Major League Baseball. Braves executive vice president of sales and marketing Derek Schiller has stated that the plans for the seating bowl are aimed at putting fans closer to the action. Not by reducing the amount of foul territory, but with cantilever designs that push the middle and upper bowls toward the field. The ballpark will also include a 90-feet-wide canopy horseshoeing around the stadium's top and air conditioning on every level to insure that fans remain cool on hot summer days. The existing topography of the property has been integrated into the design.
Turner Field's Braves Chop House restaurant has an expanded place in the plans. The new Chop House will be three or four levels and feature views of both the field and the entertainment complex. The entertainment complex will feature a one acre water feature. Fountains will perform after a Brave home run or victory. The one-acre water feature will anchor what is billed as a "park-like setting" incorporating the sloping terrain of the area. The water feature will replace a small lake stadium backers were hoping could be incorporated into the design. They dubbed it Lake Hank Aaron and started a website asking that it be saved.
On April 16, 2014, Atlanta Braves and Cobb County officials outlined the timetable for the new stadium's construction. Site clearing was scheduled to begin July 15, 2014 and complete by October 13, 2014. However, site clearing started ahead of schedule after the Cobb County commission vote on May 27, 2014. Grading for the entire site is set to begin on September 23, 2014 and to be completed by December 23, 2014. Construction will begin February 18, 2015 with substantial completion by January 24, 2017, and final completion by February 21, 2017.
In order to start construction three natural gas lines that run under the property will have to be moved. The high cost of moving the gas lines are one of the key reasons the land had not been developed. The cost to move the lines is projected to cost $14 million. The pipelines will be moved to the perimeter. Two of the lines, which run about eight feet underground, are owned by Colonial Pipeline Company, and the third belongs to Atlanta Gas Light Company. The work to move the pipelines should be complete by mid-November.
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|Home of the
in 2017 (planned)