"Nostalgia's a fad," Stan Kasten, then president of the Atlanta Braves, said in 1996. "This is classic." He was talking about the brand-new Centennial Olympic Stadium, which was designed to be converted after the Atlanta Olympics into a state-of-the-art baseball stadium for the Braves, at a total construction cost of $209 million.
It was a rare triumph of common sense: Most Olympic cities build gargantuan stadiums that are useless after the games, and most baseball teams shake down taxpayers for the price of their facilities. The Atlanta plan took money from Olympic sponsors and used it to build something that would be useful for years to come.
At least, for some years. Today, the Braves announced that they plan to ditch that "classic" ballpark, which opened for baseball in 1997 under the name of Turner Field, after the current lease expires in 2016. In 2017, the team will move to a brand-new stadium in Cobb County, where taxpayers are to supply $450 million of the estimated $672 million cost.
The Braves have to do this, they say, because it would cost a minimum of $150 million to do basic renovations to Turner Field, and possibly an extra $200 million for "improving the fan experience." This is thriftiness, baseball-style: Spending $350 million is prohibitively expensive, so it's necessary to spend $672 million. Particularly since the latter means spending other people's money.
[Image via Getty]