Atlanta Braves leaving the city for the suburbs

Lauren N.

Staff Writer

The Atlanta Braves announced Monday, November 11th, that they will leave Turner Field in four years for a ballpark they plan to build in the northern suburbs of Atlanta, where most of their fans live. The Braves’ move will come after their lease at Turner Field is up, following the 2016 season. The team said improvements were needed at Turner Field, which opened for baseball in 1996 for the summer Olympics, and has been used by the Braves ever since.

The Atlanta Braves’ recent announcement about their move to Cobb County was surprising, but not shocking. The Braves began looking for a future home in 2005 because of the ongoing problems at Turner Field, such as infrastructure. For one, they do not own the stadium; they only lease it. Also, since 1997, the Braves have spent $125 million on improvements, given that the stadium was built for the Olympics. Turner Field now needs around $150 million more in improvements on the infrastructure.

Another large downside for Turner Field is the location. A good majority of the fan base comes from the northern suburbs. There is also traffic and parking issues as well; heavy downtown traffic can be deterring to some fans, and parking can be challenging.  Turner Field is currently in need of 5000 additional parking spots. To make matters worse, the Marta system does not go all the way down to Turner Field; the closest station is over a mile away from the site. Senior Tanner Costo said, “I love going to Braves games, but I didn’t really go to that many because of how far it is and how much of a hassle it is to get there.” The Braves are hoping that with the new stadium beinBraves lng closer to the people who attend the games, that those people will attend even more games because of the easier accessibility. “The worst part about driving to Braves games is that you have to drive right through Atlanta,” explained social studies teacher Mr. Josh Sailors. Building this new stadium on the outside of Atlanta will save people coming from the North from driving through the city.

The Braves management has made it clear in the past that they have not been satisfied with the location at Turner Field for many years, as it is also close to some of the city’s poorest neighborhoods, which have lacked any improvement or development. The new location closer to the fan base is in a more affluent area.  The median household income near the new stadium is $61,000 versus $23,000 around Turner Field.  The new stadium will be located on a large piece of property at the northwest intersection of I-75 and I-285 that is currently empty. There will be opportunities for more restaurants and retail developments.  There will also be room for plenty of parking.

The cost of the new stadium will be approximately $672 million and will have seating for 41,000 fans.  It is not entirely clear how it will be funded, but Cobb County will be investing in it along with some of the nearby amenities.  There are also plans to improve transportation around the proposed stadium site.  It is not sure how they will do it yet; it may include shuttles to the new stadium, but the Braves management does not believe it will be as difficult a task as it has been at Turner Field. Fans will be able to make this a destination event where they can meet friends and family for dinner before the game or have somewhere to go after.

With the Braves set to play three more seasons at Turner Field, it remains to be seen what sort of impact the franchise’s latest plan will have on the club. Although the Braves have called Turner Field home for nearly two decades, it is still one of the newer stadiums in baseball and is not nearly as iconic as places such as Wrigley Field or Fenway Park.

Regardless of how this move affects the commute for the team’s fan base, the Braves should not have a difficult time drawing a crowd to their new ballpark, as the defending National League East champions have been one of the most successful franchises in professional sports in recent years, winning a World Series title in 1995 and making the postseason in 17 out of the past 23 seasons. “It is going to be weird not watching the Braves at Turner Field, and not having them play in Atlanta, but I’m happy that the new stadium will be closer to where we live,” said senior Dalton Delay.

 

 

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