...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 3045 found on this site. Click the image to be taken to the original post. A new list is created every 10 minutes.
Earl Santee, principle architect for HOK Sport, presents some concepts while Mike Opat listens
This will be a great neighborhood. Note that the covering is being built for the emergency access. Also, note the streamers above, which appear to be monitoring air flow.
The outfield stands taking shape.
The county of my birth!
Stay warm while buying tickets.
Lots of self-portraits were taken here after the final out.
Memorabilia on display in the Metropolitan Club
Showing more of the context for the louvers.
The gate has grown a row of sponsorship
...but you can get a feel for what it will be like.
The tracks on the right will be moved to the newly-cleared area on the left. The edge of the ballpark will be about where the rocks and dirt meet.
For reference, this is that same area as viewed from the seat locator.
10 years ago, Bruce Lambrecht looked at this land and thought, "Why NOT a ballpark here?" It took a long time before anybody else saw the same potential.
A whole bunch of guys working on something.
Click to enlarge
This is the HERC Premonade with railroad tracks snaking beneath. (I think this should be named the Halsey Hall Premonade. Seriously.)
Before the team came out to warm up, Kirby Puckett, Jr. was playing Frisbee out in center.
Inside the Metropolitan Club. Classic photo of a youthful Bob Casey at far right. (Photo by Tyler Wycoff)
From an earlier visit: Don't bother with those escalators either. They were also roped off. And how about a bench? Or a planter? Or even a trash can? That woman is doing the only thing she can: leaning up against a post to do her texting.
Name that band. Please. (Mick Sterling)
Peering through Gate 29 -- lots to see
Hey! That limestone looks familiar!
Supports viewed from beneath. These seats will be just a few feet from the outside edge of the building!
Looking up toward Seventh Street.
Today's match-up (click to enlarge)
The media had some beautiful foliage to use as a background.
They help create a psychological safe area along the plaza edge, and help you forget that cars are zipping by directly beneath you.
Concrete molds are being removed!
TC gets ready to release the hounds. (Kids get to run the bases after Sunday games.)
Close-up on the diagram of the Club Level with finishing materials (click to enlarge)
Here is Seventh Street viewed from the west looking toward downtown. This will probably be the most pedestrian-friendly side (other than the plaza), but only if there is some psychological barrier between the people on foot and the people in their dangerously fast-moving automobiles.
fth Street facade as viewed from the top of the Minnekahda building.
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
Selected Bibliography - Analysis
First Edition (1992)
Second Edition (2006)
Selected Bibliography - Surveys
Second Edition (1987)
Not a "Third Edition" exactly,
but it replaced the above title
(2000, large coffee table)
Original edition (2000, round)
Revised edition (2006, round)
(2001, medium coffee table)
(2002, small coffee table)
(2003, medium coffee table)
(2004, very large coffee table)
(2006, very large coffee table)
Combines the previous two titles
(2007, medium coffee table)
Selected Bibliography - Nostalgia
Book and six ballpark miniatures