Great Stadiums (7): Turner Field (R.I.P.)

Home of the Brave(s)

Home of the Brave(s)

Reported November 11, 2013: The Atlanta Braves will leave Turner Field after 2016 for a new stadium in nearby Cobb County.

Turner Field is what’s left of the 1996 Summer Olympics Stadium, modified for baseball. Its shelf life of barely twenty years is eyebrows’ raising to say the least.

“The Ted,” which is said to have the best food court in Major League Baseball, holds roughly 50,000 munchers. The new field will have a capacity of 42,000.

Why would a club abandon its downtown home—for a smaller one no less—after only twenty seasons? Do I (Evander) need to ask?

Money!

Residents of Cobb County, Georgia, will fund $300 million, or 45 percent, of a new $672 million stadium for the Braves, county officials said. The team would kick in $372 million.

The Cobb County Commission says that financing would not rely on increased property-tax revenue. The majority of the contribution will be covered by a portion of a $368 million revenue-bond sale by the Cobb-Marietta Coliseum & Exhibit Hall Authority, which will own the stadium.

The Braves are thus in debt for $92 million over the length of a thirty-year lease. (Let’s put this total into focus: It is about one-third of Alex Rodriguez’s polished contract with the Yankees.) The remainder will be raised thro existing property-tax revenue, taxes and fees on hotels and businesses, and a rental-car levy that has yet to be approved.

“By taking on more than 90 percent of the upfront costs of the stadium, we are minimizing the amount that has to be bonded by Cobb County,” says Mike Plant, the team’s vice president of business operations.

Still, why do communities continue in the charade of “creatively” funding any portion of a sports facility?

Due to the Braves extraordinary N.L. success, not to mention their famous owner (this field is one of a handful not to carry a corporate name) as well as the Summer Olympics for which it was constructed, Olympic Games generally deemed one of the more financially responsible, Turner Field has perhaps been seen both on TV and live in its short existence by more people than any other ballpark.

Yet, I feel we hardly knew ye.

Turner Field, 1996-2016. R.I.P.

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About rightoffthebatbook

Co-author of the book, "Right Off the Bat: Baseball, Cricket, Literature, and Life"
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