...or just Business as usual?
November 11, 2013 1:36 PM
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.
And speaking of moves...
Closer to home, the Twins moved one of their players from downtown to the suburbs, announcing that Joe Mauer will switch to first base permanently.
Brave move, or Business as usual?
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.
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This page was last modified on November 11, 2013.
"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 3042 found on this site. Click the image to be taken to the original post. A new list is created every 10 minutes.
A timeline of design and construction of the ballpark. (Click to enlarge. Photo by Tyler Wycoff)
Scoreboard as viewed from Fifth Street.
Sure would be nice to cover that metal grid with more wooden louvers, eh?
Fencing is going up all along the plaza
The entrance from the service level corridor. (You have to pass the Twins clubhouse door to get there.)
There's a great, big, beautiful tomorrow! (I loved this place as a kid.)
A very unique space
If you arrive by bus, your first glimpse of the park will be the scoreboard's profile. (Viewed from the bus station in the B ramp.)
That's Jacque Jones looking up in awe at the Great Greenness.
Large staircases, a staple of recent Populous (nee HOK) projects, are all over the place.
Reverse stairway view
Best view available from the "B" ramp.
ATM-style ticket machines have appeared beneath the steps to the B ramp (you can also enter the B ramp directly by walking past the ticket machines)
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.
8:02 PM It's at peak, affecting mostly the upper deck.
The glare problem.
We'll be packed into the first five rows of section 136. Hey, Wilson! I'm bringing my glove!
Here's the field of posts which will support the third base side of the grandstand. Some walls have started to appear about where the Northstar riders will enter the park.
A place to sit (does it look like a pitcher's mound to you?)
Window area sketched by the limestone
A sampling of seats at Fenway Park
A view straight on of the Pro Shop area and ticket windows (just barely visible). The piers you see beneath the plaza are already almost completed (see final photo).
Walkway construction is progressing
A few details worth noticing (Kauffmann Stadium, New Comiskey, Comerica Park, Source: LP)
One more time from the third base side.
Solution for a hot night, just inside Gate 34 (that's a cool mist, by the way, not hot steam, which would be kind of cruel)
Champion's Club details (click to enlarge)
This is the left field pavilion in the original concept model. The restaurant pictured to its right has been moved, and the seating area has been extended at least one full section toward center.
BPM - Ballpark Magic
BRT - Bus Rapid Transit
DSP - Dave St. Peter
FSE - Full Season Equivalent
FYS - Fake Yankee Stadium (see also: NYS)
HERC - Hennepin Energy Resource Company (aka the Garbage Burner)
HPB - Home Plate Box
HRP - Home Run Porch
LC - Legends Club
LRT - Light Rail Transit
MBA - Minnesota Ballpark Authority (will own Target Field)
MOA - Mall of America
MSFC - Minnesota Sports Facilities Commission (owns the Metrodome)
NYS - New Yankee Stadium
SRO - Standing Room Only
STH - Season Ticket Holder
TCFBS - TCF Bank Stadium
TF - Target Field
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Selected Bibliography - Surveys
Second Edition (1987)
Not a "Third Edition" exactly,
but it replaced the above title
(2000, large coffee table)
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Revised edition (2006, round)
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Selected Bibliography - Nostalgia
Book and six ballpark miniatures