After first shocking Atlanta Braves fans and local contractors alike with their plans to build a new stadium, the Major League Baseball team has added to the intrigue with an announcement to fully fund a $400-million mixed-use venue at a proposed site in Cobb County, Ga.
According to a press statement, this latest project component, estimated at between 700,000 and 1 million sq ft in size, will include a "mix of retail, restaurants, residential, hotel and office space." The Braves added that the mixed-use development and ballpark will be built at the same time.
This latest news comes on the heels of the bombshell released Nov. 11, when the team announced a pending deal with Cobb County to build a new, $672-million ballpark near the Interstate 75/I-285 interchange. That same day, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed added to the surprise when he announced the city would demolish Turner Field after the 2016 baseball season and redevelop the surrounding area.
The deal—which depends partly on new taxes—is still to be approved, with Cobb County commissioners scheduled to vote Nov. 26. County spokesperson Robert Quigley says that commission chairman Tim Lee has said he believes the proposal can win unanimous approval.
But not everyone is pleased.
"I am appalled" at the secretive nature of the deal, says Debbie Dooley, co-chair of the Atlanta Tea Party. "The devil's always in the details, and there's a lot of devils in these details." One detail that caught Dooley's attention was the extension of a tax increase that had been previously approved to repay bonds used to fund parks projects.
Quigley, with Cobb County, explained: "When those [bonds] expire, the proposal is to reallocate the monies that were used to pay for those [parks bonds] towards the debt for new bonds."
While the tea party group doesn't like the maneuver, Dooley acknowledges they will have a difficult time convincing commissioners to vote against it.
"I don’t know that our chances are that good," she says. "We're pretty upset about it, and I don't think this is going to be forgotten."
If approved, the Braves say construction should commence in late 2014, with completion of the roughly 40,000-seat ballpark scheduled in time for the start of the 2017 major-league season.
Braves officials on Nov. 12 told ENR via email that architectural firm HKS helped the team with the cost estimate, which covers the stadium, parking and related infrastructure. The team stated, however, that neither HKS nor any other firm had yet been hired to design and build the ballpark. A timetable for hiring an architect and contractor would be announced after Cobb County’s official approval of the deal. The Braves will serve as the design and construction manager for the project.
If the Major League Baseball stadium project moves ahead as planned, its construction would coincide with that of the new, $1.2-billion home for the Atlanta Falcons, which is also slated for completion prior to the 2017 National Football League season. Together with the Falcons project, the surprise news of the Braves’ stadium plans has boosted the optimism of area contractors.
"It was a pretty big surprise," says Bill Anderson, president of Associated Builders and Contractors of Georgia. "It's very good news for construction in metro Atlanta." Anderson added that the simultaneous construction of two major-league stadium projects could make for a "tight labor market, at least for the short term."