The Atlanta Braves announcement yesterday that they’ll be leaving Turner Field after the 2016 season was something that almost no Braves fan saw coming. With most fans focused on the probable departure of All-Star catcher Brian McCann and possibly Tim Hudson, a brand new ballpark was not necessarily on the list of priorities.
But hours after the announcement has slowly sunk in and the initial shock has worn off, the move 13 miles north to Cobb County appears to make a lot of sense on many levels. President John Scheurholz addressed the media yesterday to talk about the move and why he feels it’s a great step forward for the Braves.
While the move wasn’t foreseen, here are the top 5 reasons why the move makes sense:
5. The Braves will have more control over their own stadium
Currently, the Braves have absolutely no ownership in Turner Field. They simply lease the stadium, and their 20-year lease (signed after the 1996 Olympics) ends after the 2016 season. While it’s highly unlikely that the Braves will have complete ownership of their new ballpark, they will still own a portion of it, allowing them to have more of a say in the building and its upkeep.
4. Turner Field needs repairs
While the casual fan that visits Turner Field may not notice, Scheurholz believes that Turner Field is in need of at least $200 million in repairs to its infrastructure (new plumbing, lighting, etc.). Scheurholz also stated that these repairs will do nothing to enhance the fan experience, and that would cost an additional $150 million. The initial price tag on the new stadium is said to be $672 million, roughly double of what the cost would be to bring Turner Field up to pace with the newest parks in baseball.
3. The atmosphere will be built for baseball
While Turner Field is an amazing baseball experience, the surrounding area of the park leaves a lot to be desired. There are few hotels within walking distance of the park and exactly 1 restaurant. The surroundings of the new ballpark will be built so that fans will hypothetically be able to park their car at their hotel, walk to dinner, walk to the game, walk to a bar, and then walk back to their hotel. The goal is for the surroundings of the park to make it a 365 day destination, not just for 81 games.
2. The stadium will be built for baseball
Turner Field was initially built as an 85,000 seat arena for the summer olympics, only being refurbished and downsized for the Braves after the conclusion of the 1996 games.
The new ballpark will seat 42,000 fans, roughly 8,000 less than Turner Field. Not only will this allow a more intimate experience for fans, but you will see far fewer empty seats during mid-week games in which Turner Field would normally draw 20,000 fans. A ballpark built from the ground up for baseball will allow for the great fan experience that Wren was alluding too.
1. The bulk of season ticket holders are not downtown
Yes, there are many Braves fans that live in the downtown Atlanta area. But according to images provided by the Braves, a majority of season ticket holders live in suburbs north of the Atlanta area.
The move away from Turner Field will put the Braves closer to these fans, allowing them to get to the ballpark easier. The location of the new park will also allow for more parking near the stadium, and according to Scheurholz, easier access from major local highways (the park will be located at the intersection of I-75 and I-285).
Thomas Gruel covers South Carolina, the Atlanta Braves, and the Atlanta Falcons for Chat Sports – for more of his work, check out sportsdownsouth.wordpress.com, chatsports.com/atlanta-braves, chatsports.com/south-carolina-gamecocks, and chatsports.com/atlanta-falcons