On the morning of November 11, 2013, the baseball world found out that the Atlanta Braves had purchased a plot of land in Cobb County and intended to build a new stadium for the 2017 season. It was a surprise to everyone. There wasn’t a soul — outside of a tight circle of Atlanta Braves executives and a few Cobb County government leaders — that knew anything about it.
It was the talk of the Atlanta sports world and I remember thinking to myself that Turner Field was barely 16-years old. I also remember wondering why they decided to move the team out of downtown.
Am I of the opinion that Cobb County was a bit shady in not allowing their citizens to vote on building a new stadium with their tax money? Yes I am! No one knew a thing and, all of a sudden, this all popped up out of thin air. All of that being said: this move makes so much sense for the Braves organization. As an Atlanta sports fan, I want to win. We don’t do that very well or very often here.
If you are dead against this move and are upset with the Braves for it, you also have to be upset with the city of Atlanta and Mayor Kasim Reed (Remember when Atlanta had an NHL team? This mayor has had a huge part in losing TWO major sports teams).
The Braves do not own Turner Field.
That distinction belongs to the Atlanta-Fulton County Recreation Authority or “the city”. They also do not own any of the surrounding property. The Braves had been asking the city to help develop the areas around Turner Field and create a fun and inviting atmosphere for the fans. In its current state, the surrounding areas are bare, very uninviting and pretty dangerous. Then, they asked the city to help update Turner Field to bring it up to modern times and estimated these renovations to cost around $300 million. Mayor Reed would ignore the organization and instead turn his attention to the Falcons who were publicly threatening to leave the city. The Falcons then received a very large commitment, in the form of taxpayer dollars, to build Mr. Blank’s new palace.
So why would it benefit the Braves to move to Cobb County you ask? I’ll explain three reasons why this is the right move for the Braves.
1. Ticket sales.
The Braves thought it would be best to build the stadium as close to the ticket-buying majority as possible. Seems pretty smart to me. This map shows where these ticket buyers live.
From this map, you can tell SunTrust Park will be built in the middle of the area where the majority of the ticket buying population lives. So, the organization intends to bring the stadium closer to these people. It makes perfect sense.
Some will argue that traffic in the northwest corridor of the city is already horrendous. This is true but they are currently doing highway construction to help alleviate some of that traffic.
Oh, and remind me what traffic is like getting to the Ted. Up until 4 years ago, I lived in the northern suburbs (See that solid red patch on the map provided where all the ticket buyers are? That is the northern suburbs). That drive to Turner Field was miserable at best.
There isn’t a place to build a new facility that will help our traffic situation in Atlanta. Again, you can thank past and present government officials for that as well. Oh, and by the way, there isn’t a Marta station near Turner Field either so DO NOT use that argument with me.
I’ve also heard an argument that they are the Atlanta Braves so they should play in Atlanta. Well, the mailing address for SunTrust Park will be Atlanta even though it is in Cobb County. Also, there are numerous examples of other teams in the big four sports in the US that aren’t in the city of their name. I went to a 49ers game in Santa Clara. It took me 2.5 hours using their public transportation to get to Levis Stadium from downtown San Francisco. Other teams, such as the New York Giants, New York Jets, Dallas Cowboys, Detroit Pistons and many others do not play in their namesake cities.
2. The property is not only going to house SunTrust Park. The development will be called The Battery Atlanta.
The Battery will provide a fun and festive atmosphere full of restaurants, bars and retail shops that will host visitors 365 days a year. The Battery will also be called home to many of Atlanta’s residents, as there will be apartments and condos on the property. This will create an atmosphere that many MLB, NBA and NFL stadiums have and use to make the fan experience more than just a game.
And guess what! The Battery will also create thousands of jobs! Anyone have an argument against creating more jobs? Didn’t think so!
3. Money can help winning.
One major source of revenue for every team is their individual TV contracts. They each negotiate their own contract based on viewership and the size of the viewership market. Past ownership negotiated the Braves current TV contract. According to an article on FanGraphs, the Braves have one of the worst TV contracts in baseball and the worst amongst teams they are in direct competition with in their own division. Since the Braves are severely hampered by their TV deal, the organization had to get creative and find other ways to compete.
Their solution is The Battery Atlanta. This development is going to help create a revenue stream that isn’t currently available to the Braves. The Braves will own and manage this property and use the revenue that has been created to supplement the bad TV contract and reinvest it into the team to help compete.
So, when all is said and done, moving seven miles up the road is the smart decision. It may be a little further away for some but if winning is the top priority of the Atlanta Braves organization, then this will be a great start!