Monday, November 11, 2013

Braves Stadium Sparks Plenty of Rays & A's Anger

UPDATE: Reports out of Atlanta have clarified the $450 million funding mechanism to yet-to-be-disclosed public financing.

With the surprise announcement that the Atlanta Braves would move to the suburbs of Cobb Co. in 2017, came plenty of outrage from Rays fans in the Twitterverse:
The Braves are moving to dense suburbs, where they're selling the majority of their tickets.  Fans there will no doubt enjoy easier commutes....but likely higher ticket prices as well.

Nevertheless, its somewhat unprecedented for a team to want to replace its stadium so soon after opening (well, except for the Rays, of course).
It's also interesting the Braves will be moving away from the city's downtown core.  Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn has repeatedly said the new MLB model features stadiums in livable, walkable districts.

The Braves indicated they'd put $200 million toward a stadium, with Cobb Co. securing $450 million in "private funding," to be announced at a later date.

There are a lot of questions to be asked about the "private funding," including what it is and if it will hold up.

The Braves are also moving from one already-congested area to another one...and they'll get no help from transit.  While the region's rail system, MARTA, is the poster-child for bad rail decisions, it was Cobb Co. that had a huge hand in dooming the system some 40-odd years ago:


  1. Regarding the statement:
    "The Braves indicated they'd put $200 million toward a stadium, with Cobb Co. securing $450 million in "private funding," to be announced at a later date."

    Field of Schemes is reporting on
    "The Atlanta Journal Constitution is now reporting (no named sources, just “we’re told”) that the Cobb County stadium would involve $450 million in public money, $200 million from the team."

    So is the $450 million private or public money?
    'Taste Great' or 'Less Filling'?

  2. Wow, this one certainly "came out of left field" to me, and I consider myself a pretty devoted follower of stadium news, on this blog and others. When I saw this on the ESPN news scroll last night, I sat up and had a "WTF" moment. Although in retrospect, maybe it shouldn't have been that surprising.

    Turner Field was built for the 1996 Summer Olympics, then converted for baseball when they were over. While not as bad as dual-purpose football/baseball stadiums like what Oakland has, or even Tropicana Field, this did present some problems. Turner Field is sort of known as being decent, but not great. I haven't been there, but I've heard it has a generic feel, and it's simply too big. A lot of the seats are farther away than they would be in other parks. Apparently they only signed a 20 year lease (seems like a bad deal for the city of Atlanta), so there's no contract issue there. It's funny though to hear the Braves' President say that they've played in Turner Field for "quite some time".

    It's amazing considering the red tape that's usually associated with stadium projects, that they were able to announce this out of nowhere, and plan to have it built by 2017. Part of me wonders though if they're not being overly optimistic. Just because you announce something, doesn't mean it's going to play out that way. This may be the Braves trying to open things up with a lot of thunder to generate excitement and hope that the public officials and taxpayers fall in line. Still, it might be an example of the difference in red tape and the ability to get a project like this actually done between states like New York & New Jersey versus Georgia. As someone who's typically fairly liberal, I'm not sure where to fall on that.

    You also have to wonder if the Braves weren't somewhat pushed along by seeing what the Falcons are doing. If the football team is going to get a new billion dollar home that resembles an invading alien mothership after being in the Georgia Dome for only about 20 years themselves, then the Braves may have felt like they were entitled to a handout at that point.

    The public transportation issue there is interesting. My understanding is that when MARTA was built, some of the white areas opposed having it come through their neighborhood because they didn't want blacks riding through there.

    There's a little bit of a correlation to the Rays situation here too, given that Cobb County would have to pay for this, but other cities and counties in the area would benefit from it, without contributing to the bill. Similar to St. Pete building Tropicana Field on their own, or Tampa building the new stadium without contribution from Pinellas.

    The Braves President also made reference to the stadium being able to "thrive with action" 365 days of the year, and the usual line about development around the stadium. I will be interested in seeing what else they plan to do at a 40,000 seat open-air stadium with a baseball configuration.

    Despite how the Braves are "100 percent sure" that this is going to get done, I wouldn't be shocked to see things get derailed and/or delayed. I'm not intimately familiar with the politics of the area, but I'd have to imagine that there's going to be at least somewhat of a taxpayer uprising about this.

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. (Matt), you seem like your auditioning for TBO?

    3. Haha, no, thank you. I thought about journalism at one point, but decided against it. I realize my comment wound up unusually long, but I found the Braves' announcement to be thought-provoking on multiple fronts. A lot of other people did, too. I heard that at one point, it was taking up four of the top ten Twitter trending topics.