Atlanta Braves Shock Fans With Plan To Move To Suburbs

NPR icon by Bill Chappell
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David Goldman

In a move that took many fans by surprise, the Atlanta Braves announced Monday that the team will move to the city's suburbs, where it will build a new stadium. The team's lease on Turner Field, the Braves' home since 1997, will expire in 2016.

The new stadium will be located "just outside Atlanta's city limits," reports Atlanta Daily World.

Georgia Public Broadcasting's Jane Hammond reports:

"Team officials say they'll build a new stadium in Cobb County about 13 miles north of Turner Field. The Braves will play their first season there in 2017. Turner Field was originally built for the 1996 Olympics and then retrofitted for the Braves.

"Fans including Emily Zeller affectionately call it 'the Ted,' after Atlanta media mogul Ted Turner:

" 'It's hard to think of not going there to a Braves game. I've grown up going to games at the Ted. I've always wanted my kids to go to games at the Ted and they won't. It's really sad.'

"In a statement expressing disappointment, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed notes that multiple organizations have shown interest in redeveloping the Turner Field area."

Braves President John Schuerholz announced the decision to move the team in a video that was posted online Monday.

The stadium will be built on the edge of the intersection of two busy roads, I-75 and I-285, a bit more than 13 miles from the current location. It is projected to cost around $672 million to build, according to the team.

Schuerholz cited the desire to make the stadium easier for fans to reach, as well as a plan to develop a large area around the stadium, which will take up about 15 of the site's 60 acres, reports The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

The newspaper's story attracted hundreds of comments in the hours since it was published; the first was simply, "Wow!"

Several other readers noted that the new stadium's location has traffic problems of its own and lacks a nearby station for MARTA, the city's train system. Others said they see Turner Field as "a fine ballpark."

On the AJC site and on the MLB.com story about the planned move, readers debated the wisdom of the move in the comments section. Some said the city missed a chance to integrate a potential Braves project with a recently announced billion-dollar Atlanta Falcons stadium, which is also slated to open in 2017.

Here's more from Reed's reaction:

"We have been working very hard with the Braves for a long time, and at the end of the day, there was simply no way the team was going to stay in downtown Atlanta without city taxpayers spending hundreds of millions of dollars to make that happen.

"It is my understanding that our neighbor, Cobb County, made a strong offer of of $450M in public support to the Braves and we are simply unwilling to match that with taxpayer dollars."

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