Site of the proposed new Atlanta Braves ballpark. Look familiar?
This morning the Atlanta Braves surprised everybody and announced that they will be moving out of downtown Atlanta to the suburbs by 2017. And if you think you were surprised at this news, Atlanta baseball fans are completely blown away.
Read through some of the comments on that article and you'll get the sense that nobody saw this coming -- which means that, well, it's probably not. Commenters seem genuinely shocked, and split roughly down the middle on whether this is even a good idea or a bad idea, with a handful who recognize it as a negotiating ploy. Notably, many comments claim that the proposed site doesn't solve any of the problems the Braves say they have with Turner Field and its location.
Basically, the argument that the team is making is that it would cost $350M to upgrade Turner Field properly (that's $150M in ballpark "infrastructure" like new seats, and $200M in unspecified "fan experience" improvements). Therefore it's better for them to just start from scratch somewhere else. The proposed site is supposedly "closer to the fan base" and without some of the same traffic issues of the downtown location. (Where have we heard this before?)
Those are some pretty specific numbers, eh? Almost as if someone were interested in negotiating in the press after private talks failed. From the article:
"The Braves had been in discussions over the past year with city officials about potential development of a mixed-use project around the Turner Field parking lots, as well as how to deal with issues such as traffic, infrastructure improvements and fan enhancement improvements. ... Plant said the process 'started in early July with an exploratory lunch that I had with the (Cobb County Commission) chairman, Tim Lee.'"
In other words, even if somebody thinks there's a "100% chance" of this happening, it's still just an idea at this point, and ideas are sometimes the best form of leverage in the stadium business.
As we all know, stadium deals are nothing if not individual and idiosyncratic. After a real quick survey of available materials, it looks to me like what the Braves really want is some serious money spent in their current location. Specifically, they're looking for:
- improved and expanded parking (maybe a few parking ramps on all those surface lots)
- complete control of the parking revenue (they currently net only $5M per year)
- permission to sell the naming rights (what with Ted Turner no longer involved)
- upgraded freeway connections
- and a deal to redevelop the surrounding neighborhood (which more than one commenter bluntly describes as "the ghetto")
They might also want a Marta (light rail) train connection or the streetcar equivalent, but they would probably prefer keeping people in their cars (and paying for parking) as much as possible. It's also notable that the new location, at which the team would presumably completely control the parking, also has no public transportation connection.
Minnesota stadium watchers will be forgiven if the proposed suburban location looks more than a little like Arden Hills. It's not a brown field, but it does include a whole lot of team control of development opportunities, with the team already touting the creation of a whole entertainment complex to go with the stadium. From here it's hard to know how likely that is, but the team's desire for more cash is clear.
Protecting the franchise player is understandable, but it trades pretty much all of Mauer's strengths for that safety. Stellar defense becomes average. Remarkable offense turns into serviceable (with a power-hitting position turned into a singles-hitting position). Twins pitchers lose as much as anybody since their already-bloated ERA's will likely suffer even further. Beyond protecting Joe (a laudable goal), it's hard to see the upside here. Maybe the return of A. J. Pierzynski? (OK, if that's an upside, it's probably only sentimental.)
Admittedly, the Twins may have had no real choice in the matter, but that doesn't change the fact that this already-diminished team is likely diminished further by this move. The burden on off-season improvements has just gone up.
One thing's for sure: This one is not a negotiating ploy.
"You talk about the magic, the aura, but what really makes a stadium is the fans. Concrete doesn't talk back to you. Chairs don't talk back to you. It's the people who are there, day in, day out, that makes the place magic."
– Bernie Williams
Explore the Site
Here are 50 images chosen randomly from the 3037 found on this site. Click the image to be taken to the original post. A new list is created every 10 minutes.
Target Plaza in model form
"Original" or "Dinger" Dog
Today's match-up (click to enlarge)
In the top of the 9th, the sun hit our backs and summer took one last long look.
The LRT station, sitting in a brand new urban canyon, takes shape.
Opening Day 2008 (By Currier & Ives)
Detail on the main gate, with Target Field sign
Did you know that the out-of-town scoreboard is covered by a black chain 1ink fence?
Walkway entrance from ramp
Here's another look at the Oliva gate.
One half of those windows are well-used.
June 29,1936 - May 17, 2011
A new restaurant going in at Fifth Street and Second Avenue
Section 101, Row 34
(Click to enlarge greatly)
The wooden louvers are in on Fifth Street
Looking the other direction, again from Ford Centre, you can see what's going on over the tracks. This will be a public promenade.
The Ballpark Authority at work (Source: RP)
Brick work just inside the opening matches the color of the limestone - per Jerry Bell's requirements.
Oh no! Beach ball! But click to enlarge so you can see the wide range of expressions on people's faces. (Photo by Jared Wieseler)
New section labels, but some curious choices.
Lots of work has gone into detailing the fronts of these decks. That is a little thing, but a NICE little thing. (HRP View)
Note that the sign in the background will NOT be changed because "Twins Way" doesn't extend this far north.
Today's match-up (click to enlarge)
World Series trophies on display at left
A desolate Marquette Ave
This is the revised version of the center field pavilion (without the restaurant). It looks like there are no seats, just some ledges for people to sit on. It reminds me of the seating on the "bridge" which sticks out of the new Guthrie Theater. Anything which lands in the trees will presumably be a home run, so the "411" sign is apparently just for fun.
From about two blocks away you can finally get an idea of what it looks like. Just to my left (but out of view) was a valet parking stand where a limo was idling.
That warning sign doesn't mention anything about the potential for bludgeoning or limb removal by the revolving doors...