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November 11, 2013

Braves to build stadium that opens in 2017

ATLANTA — The Braves say they will be leaving Turner Field and moving into a new 42,000-seat, $672 million stadium 11 miles from downtown in 2017. It’s not clear how much it will cost taxpayers.

Braves executives John Schuerholz, Mike Plant and Derek Schiller said Monday that the team decided not to seek another 20-year lease at Turner Field and began talks with the Cobb Marietta Coliseum and Exhibit Hall Authority in July.

Plant, the executive vice president of business operations, said the team has not signed a contract with Cobb County, but he’s “100 percent certain it will happen.” He said talks broke down with the Atlanta Fulton County Recreational Authority earlier this year.

Schiller, the executive vice president of sales and marketing, said financing will come from the Braves and the Cobb County government. The team will be responsible for any cost overruns.

He declined to say how much taxpayers will be responsible for, but added that the information will be made public soon.

The infrastructure at Turner Field was originally built for the 1996 Summer Olympics before being converted to a baseball park that opened in 1997.

The proposed new stadium, which will be located about 10 miles northwest of Turner Field downtown, will be part of a 60-acre development near Cobb Galleria mall and just outside the I-285 perimeter.

The only mass transit service that currently serves nearby property is Cobb County Transit. The I-75/285 exits are some of the busiest in a metropolitan area that’s been hurt by major traffic problems for years, but the Braves say the development will have a reliable means of driving to and from the stadium.

Though the Braves plan to sell stadium naming rights to a corporation, Schuerholz said the team isn’t concerned that the Atlanta Falcons are seeking a naming rights deal, too, for their new downtown property that also is opening in 2017.

The news was stunning because Turner Field’s relatively young age. It opened in 1996 as the 85,000-seat main stadium for the Atlanta Olympics, hosting athletics as well as the opening and closing ceremonies. Afterward, it was downsized and converted into the Braves’ new stadium beginning with the 1997 season, replacing Atlanta-Fulton Stadium across the street.

The old stadium, which had been the home of the Braves since they moved to Atlanta from Milwaukee in 1966, was imploded and turned into a parking lot for the new facility.

Now, the stadium nicknamed “the Ted” after its namesake — former Braves owner Ted Turner — could be headed for oblivion, even though it is still new than 14 of the other 29 parks in Major League Baseball.

The Braves have played in downtown Atlanta since moving from Milwaukee. They shared Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium with the Falcons until 1991 when the Falcons moved into the Georgia Dome.

Falcons owner Arthur Blank announced on Sept. 30 that his team will move into a new downtown stadium near the Georgia Dome. That project is expected to cost $1.2 billion of team and public money.

After Turner Field opened in 1997, the Braves hosted the 1999 World Series, 2000 All-Star Game and four National League Championship Series.

The Braves had expressed frustration with the Atlanta Fulton County , which helped the Falcons work closely with the Georgia World Congress Center Authority to begin building on property nearby the Georgia Dome.

Plant said the Turner Field needs another $150 million of infrastructure and $200 million to enhance fans’ experience over the next few years.

The Braves also were frustrated that the Atlanta Fulton County Recreational Authority could not help the team secure an additional 5,000 parking spaces.

 

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