UPDATED: Atlanta Braves plan move to Cobb County by 2017

November 11, 2013 8:45 am

by Jason · 181 comments

Via the Marietta Daily Journal:

The Atlanta Braves are expected to announce today the team plans to relocate to Cobb County with a new stadium being ready for the 2017 season. They will be leaving Turner Field after their 20 year agreement expires at the end of the 2016 season.

The new stadium will be built near the intersection of I-75 and 285. The current site is under contract and set to close in early 2014.

Details aren’t available, but one would surmise that the team will, like the Atlanta Falcons, push for a taxpayer-funded stadium.

Turner Field was built for the 1996 Summer Olympics and was converted for baseball for the 1997 season. The stadium, generally considered one of the best ballparks in MLB, will only be 20 years old when the Braves’ lease expires.

There’s no word on what will become of “The Ted.”

I really hope this report is a joke or otherwise wrong.

[UPDATE] I put in a call to the Braves’ press office to verify this. Left a message.

[UPDATE-9:13am] WSB spoken with Cobb County officials and the AJC has talked with team officials. It’s legit, folks, the Braves are moving to Cobb County.

[UPDATE-9:23am] AJC’s David O’Brien tweets: “#Braves confirm move to Cobb County in 2017. Remarkable how quiet they kept this behind-scenes maneuvering.”

[UPDATE-9:26am] Jim Galloway reports the “deal to move the Atlanta Braves to Cobb County involves $450 million in private financing arranged by the county and another $200 million put up front by the baseball team that first moved to Atlanta in 1965, we’re told.”

“There’s a Wednesday meeting at the state Capitol at which the Braves will discuss the move with Gov. Nathan Deal and Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed,” he added.

[UPDATE-9:30am] The Atlanta Braves just tweeted: “We are excited to announce plans to build a world-class stadium, which will open in 2017 at the NW intersection of I-75/I-285.” In a separate tweet, the team says, “We have secured a large tract of property at this location & will work to build a world-class ballpark for our fans.”

They are directing fans to HomeOfTheBraves.com for updates.

[UPDATE-9:42am] The Braves have posted a message from John Schuerholz, team president, in which he explains the reasoning behind the move.

[UPDATE-9:47am] Via Galloway, here’s a look at the location of the proposed new stadium.

George Chidi November 13, 2013 at 4:49 am

Traffic counts on I-75 Northbound inside the perimeter between 6 p.m. and 7 p.m. are between 7,000 and 8,200 an hour on most days. They’re about 1000 fewer cars heading south at the same time, because the commuting suburbs are really to the north.

Where the games will be now.

I suppose some people who live in Cobb County will simply delay leaving work for an hour or so before heading to a game — they won’t add to traffic. But the fans who live in Gwinnett County and would normally take I-85 North will be shifting to I-75 after work. Let’s call that 15 percent of the fans. And the fans that live south and east of the stadium — call it another 15 percent of ticket sales, or about 6,000 people — will also have to get into a car and drive north on I-75, or perhaps on I-285, Let’s be generous and say the average car carries two people to the game.

My thumbnail guess is that this adds about 6,000 cars heading on I-75 North and I-285 in the middle of rush hour. If half of that is on I-75 … that’s an increase in rush hour traffic count of about 50 percent on game days during the week with a 7:10 p.m. first pitch., never mind what it does to the outer loop.

Perhaps my assumptions are wrong. Maybe people will learn to drive all the way home to their exurban villas before turning around to go back to the game. Perhaps assuming that 15 percent of Braves ticket buyers are Gwinnett residents who work ITP is an overstatement. But I doubt it. I may be understating things.

I suspect the fan map is going to shift a bit. If it really is a pain in the ass to get to from in town, more people who both live and work outside the perimeter will buy tickets.

But never mind that: what about all the other people who AREN’T going to a game stuck in maddening traffic on I-75 because of this? The 80 percent of the public in Cobb who never go to a game? The congestion I suspect will occur is an insane burden to impose on them, which will almost certainly come at an economic cost to the county. No one credible actually believes the county will see a positive ROI from spending $450 million on a stadium.

Unless light rail is bundled into this plan, building a stadium at one of the most congested intersections in Georgia is a costly mistake. And using public money to support this private business, given the history of financial misfortune associated with public stadium projects, is an obscenity.

Comments on this entry are closed.