In today’s press conference, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed made the city aware that the Atlanta Braves were not the only ones working on undisclosed negotiations in regards to Turner Field. While the Braves were seeking $150 to $250 million in funding from the city of Atlanta to make necessary upgrades to the stadium, Mayor Reed was discussing potential development possibilities for the Turner Field site with an undisclosed party.
On Monday, the Atlanta Braves announced that they would not be continuing their lease at Turner Field, the current home of the Atlanta Braves, when the lease runs out at the end of 2016. Instead, the Braves will be moving to Cobb County and constructing a brand new, $627 million, 42,000-seat stadium at the intersection of Interstates 75 and 285.
As the Braves announced they plan to leave downtown Atlanta after 50 years, the discussion quickly turned to what would become of Turner Field and the surrounding parking areas, which were largely created from the now-demolished Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium. In today’s press conference, Mayor Reed hinted that they had their own deal in the works to replace Turner Field and that the city would not leave a vacant stadium. According to Reed, there are confidential plans in the works to bring in a master developer who will demolish the Ted and create one of the largest residential developments for middle-class families that the city has ever seen.
Mayor Reed made it clear that he feels he made the right long-term decision for the city of Atlanta. The Braves requested between $150 to $250 million for infrastructure improvements from the city of Atlanta. Due to the fact that Turner Field has no designated revenue stream to pay for such improvements, the full sum would have had to be financed through the city’s general fund, leaving Atlanta cash-strapped. Mayor Reed stated that he and the city council did not feel it was appropriate to ask the residents of Atlanta to fund yet another sports-related bill immediately following the finalization of the new Falcons stadium. While Reed said he is sad to see the Braves leave Turner Field, he believes that the decision to not go further into debt will make the city of Atlanta stronger financially.
The Atlanta Braves are moving only 12 miles down the road to a new home that will be part of a 60-acre, mixed-use entertainment development that will be open just in time for the start of the 2017 Major League Baseball season. The property, located at Windy Ridge Parkway and Circle 75 Parkway outside of I-75 and I-285, is located in the geographic center of the majority of the Braves’ fan base. While still maintaining an Atlanta address, the Braves have said their new Cobb County home will include increased access to the stadium with multiple transportation corridors, enhanced parking opportunities and easier access to and from major roadways.
It is not clear how much of the new development Cobb County will be asked to fund. Mayor Reed stated that the amount of $450 million, or 65 percent of the project, was revealed to him in meetings with the Atlanta Braves management team. However, neither Cobb Commission Chair Tim Lee nor the Atlanta Braves will confirm that number. Lee intends to ask commissioners at the Nov. 26 Cobb County Commissioners meeting to approve the plan he and his team have developed to bring the Braves to Cobb.