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 3042 found on this site. Click the image to be taken to the original post. A new list is created every 10 minutes.
Legends Club fireplace (there are two)
Winter approaches. But one day baseballs will fly where now there are cranes.
Dedicated closed-captioning ribbon board
This is as close as I could get to a pedestrian-eye view of Seventh Street (looking west away from downtown). It's inviting, not imposing, and remarkably dignified.
The Overlook, as seen by outfielders
Look at all those flag poles! But wouldn't the one from Met Stadium look great just inside the gates in the middle of that entrance plaza?
The HERC promenade side.
At the base of the B ramp, the foundation for the center field stands.
A detail from the above image shows that the section signage is now in place
I don't exactly know what this is. A first-aid station? Concession office?
The main concourse.
Click to see the whole, beautiful image. (Photo by Tyler Wycoff)
More flowers, more pennants.
Section 237, Row 15 (top of the Trap)
This is a background image extracted from one of the blueprint pages. It's essentially a schematic of the park (Terrace Level). In it you can see the shape of the various seating areas (to a certain extent).
A portrait of the 573 Club.
Peering through Gate 34
Home Run Porch Terrace
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.
Photo by Tyler Wycoff
I finally found the corner of TF dedicated to the Senators. What a wonderful sight.