Bucking the trend toward downtown ballparks, the Atlanta Braves will be leaving Turner Field and moving to a new suburban Cobb County ballpark for the 2017 season, according to team officials.
The bombshell was announced this morning by team officials. The new ballpark would open in 2017, and team officials say it’s a done deal. From the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:
Braves executives John Schuerholz, Mike Plant and Derek Schiller, in a meeting with a small group of reporters, said the new ballpark will be built at the northwest intersection of I-75 and I-285 in the Galleria/Cumberland Mall area. They said the team has “secured” approximately 60 acres of land for the project.
The Braves said the stadium is projected to cost $672 million, including parking, land and infrastructure, and will be built in partnership with Cobb County.
Schiller said the Braves will be a “significant investor” in building the stadium but refused to disclose how much the team will spend. “At this point in time, we are working with Cobb County, and when those details of our exact arrangement become final, we will let you know,” Schiller said.
The Braves have played in the same area since moving from Milwaukee in 1966. The Braves originally played at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium and then at Turner Field following the 1996 Olympics. The team’s lease at Turner Field ends with the 2016 season, so the move is perfectly timed.
“We believe the new stadium location is easy to access while also giving our fans a first-rate game day experience in and around the ballpark and making it a 365-day-a-year destination,” Schuerholz said.
The property, which has an Atlanta address and is located in Cobb County, has easy access to I-75, I-285, U.S. 41/Cobb Parkway and a variety of other transportation options. The stadium will occupy a portion of the site, with the balance being used for parking, mixed-use development and green space.
The estimated cost of the ballpark, parking and related infrastructure is roughly $672 million. The Braves will be a significant investor, along with Cobb County, in the project. During construction of the stadium, more than 5,227 jobs will be supported, with a total payroll of more than $235 million.
The Braves’ lease at Turner Field, which is owned by the City of Atlanta and the Atlanta-Fulton County Recreation Authority, ends at the conclusion of 2016. Since the facility opened in 1997, the Braves have invested nearly $125 million in Turner Field.
According to team officials, Turner Field currently needs $150 million in infrastructure work (including seat replacement, upgrades to the lighting, etc.), none of which would 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. Even with a significant capital investment in Turner Field, there are several issues that cannot be overcome — lack of consistent mass transit to the facility, lack of adequate parking, lack of access to major roadways and lack of control over the development of the surrounding area.
Construction on the new ballpark is scheduled to start in the second half of 2014 and will be completed by Opening Day 2017. The Braves will develop the remaining parcels surrounding the stadium, crafting a world-class entertainment district featuring retail, restaurants and hotel options. Plans call for the stadium to be owned by the Cobb-Marietta Coliseum and Exhibit Hall Authority, which also owns the Cobb Galleria Centre and Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre.
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