The Atlanta Braves Will Not Be Stuck Playing in a 20-Year-Old Ballpark

The Atlanta Braves Will Not Be Stuck Playing in a 20-Year-Old Ballpark

"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]

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Original post by Barry Petchesky on Deadspin

Braves Announce Plans To Leave Atlanta For Cobb County [Updates]

Braves Announce Plans To Leave Atlanta For Cobb County [Updates]

As first reported by the Marietta Daily Journal, the Atlanta Braves will announce their intention to leave the 16-year-old Turner Field for a new stadium in Cobb County, Georgia, when their stadium lease expires after the 2016 season.

(The Atlanta Journal-Constitution just confirmed the report. The announcement was made this morning by Braves officials, including team president John Schuerholz.)

According to the Daily Journal, the new stadium would be completed by 2017, and would be built near the intersection of I-75 and 285. That would put it in Cumberland, closer to Marietta than to Atlanta. Team officials confirmed the stadium would be built with some percentage of public funds. (Update: The AJC reports that Cobb County would be responsible for $450 million in financing, with the team kicking in $200 million.)

Turner Field is what remains of the Olympic Stadium built for the 1996 Atlanta games. It was converted into a baseball stadium, opened for the 1997 season, and is somehow already the 17th-youngest ballpark in MLB.

Update: The Braves have a website offering more details on the move. The site explains the team's issues with Turner Field:

Turner Field is a facility that was built for three weeks of use for the Olympics, but has now served us well for nearly 20 years. The issue isn't the Turner Field we play in today, but instead whether or not the venue can remain viable for another 20 to 30 years.

Turner Field has served the Braves well since 1997, but it is in need of major infrastructure work, which will cost around $150 million. These upgrades are functional ones, such as replacing worn-out seats or upgrading the stadium's lighting, and they would do little to significantly enhance the fan experience. If the Braves were to pay for additional projects focused on improving the fan experience, the additional costs could exceed $200 million.

Those upgrades still wouldn't address the logistical challenges outside the stadium – lack of consistent mass transit options, inadequate number of parking spaces and limited access to major highways.

Here's a satellite image showing where the stadium will go:

Braves Announce Plans To Leave Atlanta For Cobb County [Updates]

And here's their map showing the location of 2012 Braves ticket purchasers. This says everything:

Braves Announce Plans To Leave Atlanta For Cobb County [Updates]

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