With Major League Baseball's offseason only recently under way, the Atlanta Braves on Nov. 11 dropped the biggest news to date, with a blockbuster trade, of sorts, with the team announcing it will leave Turner Field and build a new stadium in nearby Cobb County.
The team estimates the cost of the new ballpark—which would seat around 41,000 fans, according to reports—at about $672 million, including parking and "related infrastructure." Asked by ENR where and how the team had arrived at that figure, Beth Marshall, director of public relations, stated that the organization has been "working with [architectural firm] HKS," indicating the designer has been estimating costs. Marshall added, however, that the firm "[has] not as of yet been hired for the design of the ballpark." (Past HKS sports projects include Cowboys Stadium in Texas and Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.)
In this video by the Associated Press, Braves officials explain their reasoning for a move to a new stadium located about 15 miles north of Turner Field. (Video by AP.)
In order to begin playing ball in the new stadium by 2017, the Braves will need to move quickly to start construction. In a press release, the Braves stated construction will start in the second half of 2014.
While the Braves didn't release any designs for the new facility, team president John Schuerholz hinted at a likely mixed-use component to the pending project. "We believe the new stadium location is easy to access while also giving our fans a first-rate game-day experience in and around the ballpark and making it a 365-day-a-year destination."
In a "fact sheet" it posted to www.HomeoftheBraves.com, the team was more specific, stating that their new home will include a "stadium and integrated mixed-use development on 60 acres at the northwest intersection of I-75 and I-285."
This image shows the site of the new Braves ballpark in blue, with the red indicating mixed-use development and parking space. The team cited a lack of parking around Turner Field as one reason behind its decision to leave the 17-year-old ballpark. (Image courtesy Atlanta Braves)
The Braves' Marshall told ENR, via email, that "the ballpark and phase one of development [will be] going up at the same time." She added that while a phase-one design plan has not been finalized, "most likely [it] will include retail/restaurants and potentially office/live (residential)."
In a Nov. 11 press statement, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed stated that the city was unable to match Cobb County's offer of financial help, which he estimated had been in the range of $450 million. The Braves had stated that needed upgrades to Turner Field could have cost in the range of $200 million—and would have failed to address nagging issues such as parking.
In its own press statement, however, the team stated that the $450-million estimate was "erroneous," and asserted that it will pay a "significant amount" of the cost of the new stadium.
Not in dispute, however, is the fact that Turner Field—originally built for the 1996 Olympics—appears to be heading into history, as Mayor Reed announced the city will tear down the ballpark in 2017.
ENR Southeast will report further on this blockbuster deal. So stay tuned.