FanDuel - WFBC

November 11, 2013

Atlanta Braves plan to build new stadium in Cobb County: “We didn’t take this decision lightly,” said Schuerholz, the Braves’ president. “We’ve played in our current facility for quite some time (since 1997), and it was with mixed emotions that we made this decision because we have many great Braves baseball memories that occurred for all of us … in that facility. But we are quite enthused about where our new facility will be.”

posted by tommytrump to baseball at 10:04 AM - 34 comments

Deadspin has a pretty good take on this, including a telling map of Braves' season ticket holders.

posted by Rock Steady at 10:14 AM on November 11

I wonder if part of this will be getting a MARTA line to the area. It's been needed for a long time.

posted by Ricardo at 10:45 AM on November 11

I believe Cobb County has rebuffed efforts before and have operated a bus-only system. The problem today is that expanding train service into Cobb would cost well into the nine digits.

As for the claim of requiring $200 million to improve the "fan experience," what is that, making the stadium look more like a video game? Giant video boards, giant advertising signs, louder-than-hell music systems?

posted by jjzucal at 04:25 PM on November 11

I wonder if part of this will be getting a MARTA line to the area.

No. Cobb County rejected being any part of MARTA from the outset, for depressingly familiar metro-Atlanta reasons, and metro Atlanta voted against a sales tax hike for transport improvements; And given the distribution of Braves ticket holders (north OTP) the idea of mass transit probably extends to shuttles from the other edge cities.

posted by etagloh at 04:36 PM on November 11

As for the claim of requiring $200 million to improve the "fan experience," what is that, making the stadium look more like a video game? Giant video boards, giant advertising signs, louder-than-hell music systems?

They had until recently the biggest high-def video screen in the world, before Jerry Jones blew it out of the water.

If you see it from the Braves' perspective - why spend "$200 million" to retrofit a facility when you can find another sucker government to let you spend only $200 million towards the use of a brand-new facility?

posted by dfleming at 05:29 PM on November 11

Even the Big Boss Man had a price for the Million Dollar Man.

posted by Etrigan at 06:05 PM on November 11

I lived for a time west of Cobb Parkway, just south of Windy Hill Road, which is not far from the proposed location. If things have not changed greatly over the years, Cobb Parkway can be a parking lot between Windy Hill Road and I-285. I can not see a stadium in the area helping the situation much. The people at Lockheed-Martin in Marietta will not be happy on game days while trying to get to I-285 after work. The downtown location for the current park has problems with traffic and parking, but while parking might be easier, the road net in the area planned will be sorely taxed by baseball traffic.

posted by Howard_T at 08:29 PM on November 11

That entire segment of metro Atlanta between I-75 and I-85 north of I-285 is a mess, with interstate-level traffic on local roads connecting the "edge cities". Braves fans coming in from the north might have complained about traffic around Turner Field -- and the area around the stadium is not the theme park experience that's seemingly demanded these days.

East-west traffic in that area -- say, from Roswell or Alpharetta, which are deep red on the ticketing map -- is going to be ugly, and nothing that can be done by 2017 will change that.

Rembert Browne's piece on what it means for the actual city of Atlanta is well worth a read.

posted by etagloh at 09:48 PM on November 11

posted by beaverboard at 12:19 AM on November 12

The era of public-financed stadiums has become the era of disposable public-financed stadiums. Bleed the public every 20 years for another new stadium!

Sports have become a huge racket for rich team owners and government officials.

posted by rcade at 12:50 PM on November 12

It should be noted that Turner Field wasn't built for the Braves, but for the Olympics (Centennial Olympic Stadium). The Braves took it over when the Olympics were done.

posted by grum@work at 12:58 PM on November 12

But wasn't Olympic Stadium built precisely with the Braves taking over in mind?

posted by jmd82 at 02:07 PM on November 12

It should be noted that Turner Field wasn't built for the Braves, but for the Olympics (Centennial Olympic Stadium). The Braves took it over when the Olympics were done.

True, but as far as I understand, they incurred no capital cost in the process. So while it's not the perfect structure, it was a brand-new structure they got with no liabilities other than their lease terms.

posted by dfleming at 02:22 PM on November 12

The era of public-financed stadiums has become the era of disposable public-financed stadiums.

And Atlanta is likely among the worst offenders on this score, as they want to replace the Georgia Dome as well.

Before they implode Turner Field, I want to buy the seat that Jane Fonda was sitting in when she fell asleep during the World Series. It might help with my apnea.

posted by beaverboard at 03:39 PM on November 12

Even the Big Boss Man had a price for the Million Dollar Man.

I see what you did right there.

posted by BornIcon at 04:02 PM on November 12

But wasn't Olympic Stadium built precisely with the Braves taking over in mind?

That had to be part of the Olympics-for-Atlanta pitch. Give us the public funds to build it and we'll also have a stadium for your Atlanta Braves!

Growing up in Dallas, my favorite local teams played in Irving and Arlington. I don't see why the Braves moving to the burbs is being treated like such a big deal, though it's a shame the public transit situation isn't better. (I do think downtown stadiums rule.)

posted by rcade at 06:22 PM on November 12

It surely wouldn't be a big deal to someone from Arlington. The residents there paid $325 million of the cost to build the Dallas Cowboys' new stadium, and Arlington has no public transportation whatsoever.

posted by beaverboard at 06:53 PM on November 12

I don't see why the Braves moving to the burbs is being treated like such a big deal

Read that Deadspin piece I linked. Take a look at the AJC's coverage -- and in particular, those who are cheering the move "out of the ghetto" vs those who want to rechristen the team the Cobb County Crackers. Yeah, that's the spirit of Dixie.

posted by etagloh at 07:39 PM on November 12

And just to underline that point, here's the chairman of the Cobb County GOP:

It is absolutely necessary the (transportation) solution is all about moving cars in and around Cobb and surrounding counties from our north and east where most Braves fans travel from, and not moving people into Cobb by rail from Atlanta.

posted by etagloh at 08:32 PM on November 12

Growing up in Dallas, my favorite local teams played in Irving and Arlington. I don't see why the Braves moving to the burbs is being treated like such a big deal,

Growing up a cowboy fan, I always thought it was strange that the Cowboys didn't play in Dallas. Even now, I much prefer a team that plays in the city. The Saints in the Super Dome. And in baseball, I always enjoy seeing the skyline out in the distance.

Like the guy in etagloh's link, I just love the city vibe. I've been to several braves games, and always had a good time. Going to the burbs just won't be the same. I get the reasons, still, seems like a sad time for Atlanta.

posted by justgary at 09:09 PM on November 12

I've been to Braves games in both of the Atlanta stadia. Really, I've been to Braves games in 3 of the 4 stadiums they have played in during my lifetime. Milwaukee is not one of them. Fulton County Stadium was not the greatest ball park ever, but it was adequate. The new stadium was quite nice, with good sight lines, comfortable seating, decent concessions, and the like. I did not find parking in the stadium area to be terribly expensive, but getting to the stadium was a bit chancy because of the traffic. Since the announced plan is to tear down the stadium and put in commercial development, I sense the presence of some special interests applying emoluments to the correct palms. Perhaps it's my Boston heritage influencing my understanding of how such deals get done.

What bothers me about the whole Atlanta deal, and indeed with any cities that "need" new venues to replace those that are not necessarily outmoded, is the example of Fenway Park. At one time there was a strong move to build a new park on the waterfront in the south end, where the Convention Center is located now. There was room for a baseball field and a football field, with lots of room left for parking. Public transportation was available. The owners of the Red Sox and Patriots could not agree on things, did not understand how to "win" political support, and the plans died aborning. So the Patriots built Gillette, with minimal public funding, and the Red Sox were stuck with Fenway Park, which at that time was a dump, with lousy seating, bad concession areas, public transportation that was inadequate unless walking from Kenmore Square was considered, and parking rates that required taking out a second mortgage.

Somehow, Red Sox management turned Fenway Park into a fairly decent venue. They did so by encouraging local merchants and vendors to set up what really amounts to a market area outside the park. Inside the park the "monster seats" atop the wall, additional upper deck seating in right field and along the third base line, and better concession areas were added. True, seating capacity is still small by MLB standards and too many of the seats, particularly in the right field areas leave you staring at right center without twisting your body around to the left in order to watch pitcher and batter. What that means for Atlanta, and Cobb County as well, is that they ought to turn to the Braves and basically say, "Suck it up, deal with it, or find some other city" Putting the new stadium in the Galleria area of Marietta will not greatly benefit Cobb County nor the city of Marietta.

posted by Howard_T at 12:24 AM on November 13

While not a fan of any stadium extortion or public-private boondoggles, the Fenway situation is somewhat unique: the Sox are a religion of sorts in New England... although that makes it as jarring that they've never really extorted the city, given how rabidly obsesser the fandom is.

Then again, because of this Boston sells out most games even when they're mediocre, and Boston has the rare ownership who's realized that spending to build 90-95 win teams each year solves a lot of problems about "making money" more than some new stadium panacea.

posted by hincandenza at 01:16 AM on November 13

Even now, I much prefer a team that plays in the city.

I do, too. Coors Field and Camden Yards are perfect locations for baseball.

But as a Dallas native, to me Dallas is the entire DFW metroplex, not the city limits of Dallas, so having the Rangers in Arlington and the Cowboys in Irving and now Arlington is not sacrilege. I lived all over DFW after growing up in Garland. Most years I spent very little time in downtown Dallas.

In the times I've been to Atlanta, the downtown scene was pretty paltry. It feels like Dallas to me, a city that's spread out all over and not one where the city is the center of everything.

The Saints in the Super Dome.

If you go to games, do you take mass transit to the game and spend time in that area before or after? For me, the live sports experience is almost always driving to the game, parking and going home. Not partaking of the cool stuff around the venue, when there is any. That was true in Dallas, Denver and now Jacksonville.

posted by rcade at 09:42 AM on November 13

Even now, I much prefer a team that plays in the city.

Walking through Chicago for the first time and running into Wrigley Field while just taking a wrong turn up a street is one of my most romantic baseball memories. I literally gasped with joy and wonder.

posted by Joey Michaels at 06:09 PM on November 13

In the times I've been to Atlanta, the downtown scene was pretty paltry. It feels like Dallas to me, a city that's spread out all over and not one where the city is the center of everything.

Oh, I agree. The advantage of being in the city varies by city, and I can see the benefits of the Braves moving. It's simply a personal preference, that the team actually play IN the city. I remember as a child being excited to go into Boston to see the Red Sox. The idea of going to Foxborough to see the Patriots couldn't compare.

If you go to games, do you take mass transit to the game and spend time in that area before or after? For me, the live sports experience is almost always driving to the game, parking and going home. Not partaking of the cool stuff around the venue, when there is any. That was true in Dallas, Denver and now Jacksonville.

The Saints are a perfect example. There is almost nothing bigger in New Orleans than the Saints. The dome dominates the skyline, and every sunday the Saints play the entire city is one big party.

New Orleans is small, and you can get to the French Quarter in about a minute from the Superdome. So it doesn't really matter what is right next to the dome. I can't imagine the Saints not playing in New Orleans, and moving them to a suburb would be terrible for the city.

posted by justgary at 11:31 AM on November 14

@JoeyMichaels, I got the same feeling about Fenway when we went for the Liverpool - Roma match summer before last. You just walk across the boulevard and up a block, boom!

ATT Park doesn't do the same for me though this may be because my first job when I moved to the Bay Area in '96 was officed in China Basin Landing. This was before ATT Park so after work people would go up on the roof and hit golf balls into the dirt and weeds.

posted by billsaysthis at 12:04 PM on November 14

As someone who does not attend Red Sox games, I enjoy riding into town on the T on afternoons or evenings when the Sox have a game. I'm the only one in the car without some sort of team gear on, and I'm always amazed by how focused and orderly the Sox fans are. Preparing themselves for the impending business at hand, which will be conducted in the holy shrine. There's a buzz on the train to be sure, but it's a pretty darned serene one, comparatively speaking.

One time, a group of cheerleaders from an ACC football team (I think it was Clemson) got on a Green Line train full of Sox fans, and it seemed as though the car suddenly descended into the realm of ungovernable conduct.

posted by beaverboard at 01:46 PM on November 14

One time, a group of cheerleaders from an ACC football team (I think it was Clemson) got on a Green Line train full of Sox fans, and it seemed as though the car suddenly descended into the realm of ungovernable conduct.

When I was going to college at Northeastern, the Green Line at rush hour was always in the realm of ungovernable conduct. Balancing an armload of books, hanging on to a strap for dear life, trying to avoid the sharply pointed umbrellas of the "little old ladies", and keeping my cool while someone did a "package check" on me were memories I'd like to subdue.

For the most part, I've always taken public transportation to Fenway, but I've also walked from Northeastern (cutting my afternoon Electrical Engineering lab), and driven in from southern NH. The problem with public transportation is that the T stops service way too early for one to spend any significant time having a post-game brew after a night game. Now that there has been a conscious effort to develop it, the area around Fenway has a nice ambiance, good collection of food and drink establishments, and decent, if overpriced, souvenir shops. It's worth getting there early for a game just to sample the atmosphere. Parking still stinks if you drive, and unless you take the commuter rail to or from South Station, you still have a pretty good walk from the nearest Green Line stop.

The example of Patriots and Foxborough is a good one. It's just not the same atmosphere as is found in the city. Kraft has done a remarkable job turning the place into a retail sales mecca, and there are a lot of on-premises food and drink places. There are also a lot of places available on Route US-1, but it just isn't the city. Believe it or not, there is public transportation available in the form of a game day special train from Boston. I have not tried it, but the fare is a lot cheaper than parking, and it would be convenient for me to drive to a T station, take the T to South Station, and go from there. I'll try it for our next Pat's game.

posted by Howard_T at 03:38 PM on November 14

Baseball is an urban game. It started in the industrial Northeast and gradually migrated to newer cities in the South and West. There's no great mystery here: You need a large population to fill a stadium 81 times a year.

The teams playing in Anaheim and Arlington manage it without being in the biggest city in their area, and not every city with a team has great or even average-quality transit. How many Tampa fans are taking mass transit to the Trop? I saw almost no buses at the playoff games I attended there in recent years.

posted by rcade at 07:05 PM on November 14

Burbsplainin'.

You'd expect Phoenix, as a pretty sprawly city, to fit the pattern here, but Chase Field is downtown (as is the US Airways Center) and both are on the light rail system, while the team operates shuttle coaches for people who are further out.

posted by etagloh at 01:57 AM on November 15

The teams playing in Anaheim and Arlington manage it without being in the biggest city in their area

Arlington, TX, is just about halfway between Dallas and Fort Worth. The 2012 population of the area was 1.24 million. Orange County, CA, had slightly over 3 million population. I think this compares favorably with populations of other major metropolitan areas. What might work against baseball in these areas is the number of other activities available.

posted by Howard_T at 03:04 PM on November 15

A city of 1.24 million isn't going to fill a stadium 81 times a year. I went to college in Arlington. It's an enormous suburb, not a city. There's no downtown and it has this claim to fame, per Wikipedia: "the largest city in the world without a fixed bus-route, light-rail or commuter train system of mass transit."

The Rangers sell out because they're in the middle of DFW, an area with 6.5 million people.

posted by rcade at 03:39 PM on November 15

Parking still stinks if you drive

Assuming you're not willing to drop $50. And then wait 6 hours for all the pedestrian traffic to clear.

I enjoy riding into town on the T on afternoons or evenings when the Sox have a game

On the Green Line? It might be my claustrophobia, but that's always the longest 15 minutes of my life. And if you're not totally crammed in and sweating to death even when it's below freezing out, it means you screwed up and are heading for Cleveland Circle.

posted by yerfatma at 04:24 PM on November 15

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