Scott Michaux

Sports columnist for The Augusta Chronicle. | ScottMichaux.com

Michaux: New stadiums for Braves, Falcons make no sense

Monday, Nov. 11, 2013 4:00 PM
Last updated 9:51 PM
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Rumor has it that the Atlanta Braves and Falcons will be holding a joint news conference next week to announce their plans to build newer new stadiums before the 2037 seasons.

“By then there will be children born in 2017 who are approaching legal drinking age,” an anonymous source close to both franchises said. “That yet-born generation will not want to go to a ballpark that doesn’t have all the holographic bells and whistles. And the current parking lots we plan to have for our new facilities set to open in 2017 will not be able to accommodate all of the Jetson hover cars.”

Seriously, I’m still trying to wrap my head around the Falcons’ decision to abandon a perfectly good 21-year-old Georgia Dome to build a billion-dollar stadium about 300 feet from the current location. Now word comes that the Braves will be leaving 16-year-old Turner Field for a more “intimate” facility to be built in Cobb County.

“We’ve played in our current facility for quite some time, and it was with mixed emotions that we made this decision because we have many great Braves baseball memories that occurred for all of us,” said Braves executive John Schuerholz, neglecting to mention none of those memories included winning a World Series.

“Quite some time,” indeed. If, for example, your child was conceived in the Lexus Lot back when the Ted first opened for baseball in 1997, he or she actually has a license now to be able to drive to a Braves game now – if they would ever desire to sit in a clearly dilapidated facility to watch a game their great-great-great grandparents once cared about before the invention of the iPhone made shared events less communal.

Despite increasing accusations of being an old man, the truth is I’m not even 50. While in college, I attended baseball and football games in Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium and basketball at the Omni.

Then Atlanta went on a stadium building binge in the 1990s and updated everything. The Georgia Dome opened in 1992 and played host to a couple of Super Bowls by 2000. It’s a fantastic football destination for colleges, pros and high schools and the occasional Final Four. It remains one of the most comfortable and loudest domes you’ll ever see a game in despite not having all the luxury accoutrements to satisfy Arthur Blank’s underwriters.

Turner Field first opened as Centennial Olympic Stadium in 1996 for the Games that featured unforgettable moments like Muhammad Ali lighting the Olympic flame and Michael Johnson shattering the 200-meter world record. The Braves took over the next year.

Philips Arena completed the sports tableau in 1999, housing the NBA and NHL before one of the tenants took off for Winnipeg.

Pretty sure most folks figured Atlanta was set with first-class facilities for the foreseeable future.

That’s old-school thinking, I guess. Major-league franchise owners can’t stand it when other teams have fancier facilities, so they routinely seduce pliable politicians into footing bills for new athletic cathedrals that will excite the local populace into wanting to see what’s inside until it’s no longer new and shiny.

And so Atlanta agrees to foot at least $200 million in public funds for a new open-air Falcons stadium with a retractable roof. The NFL is so flush with cash, it’s probably a pretty good investment. Maybe another Super Bowl might even come to town because of it.

But this new Braves deal is shocking in its uselessness. Turner Field might not be the sexiest stadium in baseball, but it has everything any fan could want for a night out at the ballpark – complete with convenient access to downtown near the intersection of I-20 and the I-75/85 connector.

But now Cobb County is ponying up a reported $450 million of public financing to bring the $672 million multi-use project to a 60-acre site near the intersection of Interstates 75 and 285 near the Cobb Galleria/Cumberland Mall area. The new open-air stadium will apparently seat up to 42,000, downsizing from the nearly 50,000 that can fit in Turner Field. Since the Braves rarely fill the Ted, at least that part makes sense.

What doesn’t is the notion the Braves are doing this to make it more convenient to fans – moving to one of the most congested rush-hour junctions in the nation in a county that has long refused access to MARTA because it might transport the wrong kind of public to its affluent neighborhoods.

“We also recognized that what is insurmountable is we can’t control traffic, which is the No. 1 reason why our fans don’t come to more games,” said Braves exec Mike Plant, who has apparently never driven to Atlanta’s northern suburbs at rush hour when fans would be heading out for a 7:05 p.m. baseball game.

To try to wash all this down, the Braves claim a necessary $150 million in infrastructure work needed for Turner Field – including seat replacement and upgraded lighting and plumbing. So naturally like the rest of us who own homes that might need new roofs and water heaters after a couple decades, you raze the whole structure and build an expensive new house somewhere else.

It’s really sickening considering all of the state’s budget woes – with school systems that are languishing from neglect – that the public will have to fork over a dime (much less well more than half a billion) in an ego race to replace two perfectly good facilities that barely date back to the 20th Century.

Maybe when the owners get bored with their new toys in a couple decades, they can afford to replace them on their own.

Comments (22) Add comment
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Little Lamb
45282
Points
Little Lamb 11/11/13 - 05:22 pm
3
1
Citizens of North Augusta . . .

. . . better listen up.

Austin Rhodes
2852
Points
Austin Rhodes 11/11/13 - 06:05 pm
3
3
Little Lamb...

...apples and orangutans...

There is NOTHING near the current stadium except a mud hole, a cemetery, and a dog pound.

justthefacts
21359
Points
justthefacts 11/11/13 - 06:07 pm
3
1
No need

I agree. To blow up the Ga. Dome after 20 yrs is lunacy. At least the Braves are changing locations....somewhat.

rmwhitley
5542
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rmwhitley 11/11/13 - 06:32 pm
0
0
The falcons
Unpublished

have nothing to offer. Almost 47 years and 1 super bowl disaster. The Braves are losers to, but have at least won 1 World Series.

itsanotherday1
41996
Points
itsanotherday1 11/11/13 - 08:53 pm
3
3
I'm all for the new Braves

I'm all for the new Braves digs, get it out of the ghetto and Fulton County. I can't say that I would feel the same if I were a Cobb County taxpayer.
I wish that if the Falcons were moving, they would have gone to Gwinnett or Cobb for the same reasons.

seenitB4
85391
Points
seenitB4 11/12/13 - 07:48 am
3
3
The Braves got it right

They moved to their customers home base......why do yall think you can "outthink" the money men?

Many avoid downtown for all the right reasons....

justthefacts
21359
Points
justthefacts 11/12/13 - 08:26 am
2
1
Outthink?

I don't anybody posting above thinks that. Don't get all "corgimon" on us. I think most taxpayers feel they are being out maneuvered by the "money men" at their expense. Not out thought.

seenitB4
85391
Points
seenitB4 11/12/13 - 08:40 am
2
1
hahahah jtf

Get all corgimom on yall...lol

Come on jtf....don't be so touchy..you know money talks.

Little Lamb
45282
Points
Little Lamb 11/12/13 - 08:46 am
2
0
Referendum

I wonder if the citizens of Cobb County are going to get the opportunity to vote on financing the new stadium, or is it going to be rammed down their throats like it was in Aiken County?

ymnbde
9556
Points
ymnbde 11/12/13 - 09:04 am
3
0
your bias is showing

"...that has long refused access to MARTA
because it might transport the wrong
kind of public to its affluent neighborhoods."
well, duh... Atlanta isn't a safe city
and the stadium is not in a safe area
that is Atlanta's fault, and Cobb County
has no shame in rejecting that
blame Tom Teepen and Cynthia Tucker for most
of Atlanta's current ills, not the people of Cobb County
btw, have you actually ridden Marta lately?
late at night?

Cameron Poe
865
Points
Cameron Poe 11/12/13 - 09:23 am
2
0
Both stadiums are in

Both stadiums are in horrendous locations. The Dome is a logistical nightmare for parking. Not to mentioned the safety of both areas. The new Falcon stadium is going to be funded by a hotel tax for the $200M the city has promised. Which means the citizens of Atlanta will not be footing the bill unless for some odd reason they are staying in hotels on a regular basis in the town in which they reside. Arthur Blank has promised to foot the rest of the bill, which is much more than many other owners in other cities. The money from the hotel tax must be spent on these projects so saying that the rest of the city is losing out because of it is a fallacy. Also, let's not down play how much money a Super Bowl and other events will bring into the city. Sounds to me like lots of real issues concerning both stadiums were glossed over in favor of nostalgia. Maybe the title of the article should be, "Nostalgia makes the new Braves , and Falcons stadiums make no sense"

justthefacts
21359
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justthefacts 11/12/13 - 09:25 am
1
0
Seenit

Hey, not touchy, just keeping you on the right path. And yes, everybody know that money always win. People don't have to like it though.

justthefacts
21359
Points
justthefacts 11/12/13 - 09:48 am
0
0
Really Cameron

"Not to mentioned the safety of both areas." How far is the new stadium going to be from the Dome?

Cameron Poe
865
Points
Cameron Poe 11/12/13 - 09:57 am
1
0
It is less than a mile from

It is less than a mile from the current stadium. But, if you think that the demographics and safety of an area can't change significantly in a short distance then you are kidding yourself. Just look at any major city.

justthefacts
21359
Points
justthefacts 11/12/13 - 10:14 am
0
0
Sure

Less than mile. Got it. Much safer. I pay $139 per for my four tickets now. If they need to raise that to pay for Mr. Blank's new stadium, they better start playing a lot better before 2017. Of course the biggest losers are in Dallas. Jerry Jones won't let Blank have a stadium nicer than his.

Jake
32320
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Jake 11/12/13 - 11:45 am
0
0
Why doncha' try.....

.....building world champion teams instead.
Too many post season failures at the Ted for me to be against the move.
Falcons? How can a team fall so quick and far? There is more than just injuries that's wrong with this team right now.

David Parker
7923
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David Parker 11/12/13 - 11:56 am
1
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I miss Al Hrabosky

I miss Al Hrabosky

David Parker
7923
Points
David Parker 11/12/13 - 12:04 pm
0
0
Stephen Jackson was a bust.

Stephen Jackson was a bust. We have no big running back to soften the opponents defense. Injuries on WR squad. Harry Douglas not really stepping up enough. There is more but my eyes get teary and I cannot focus on the keyboard to type more.

justthefacts
21359
Points
justthefacts 11/12/13 - 12:07 pm
0
0
Davo

Look at the bright side. The birds have a great kicker!

Little Lamb
45282
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Little Lamb 11/12/13 - 02:08 pm
0
0
Punt

If they can't make first downs, they need a great punter!

Scott Michaux
171
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Scott Michaux 11/12/13 - 04:41 pm
1
3
Nostalgia?

It is hard to be nostalgic for facilities 21 and 16 years old in which fans have never celebrated championships. This is about being practical. These are 2 excellent facilities in no need of replacing and demolishing with many more years of usefulness available. And I've been to events at both of them hundreds of times through the years without ever remotely feeling unsafe. The vast majority of stadiums in big cities are not in the most affluent parts of town, if you haven't noticed. This is wasteful public spending (though I applaud Blank for putting up the majority of the cost for his stadium). And it's a bad deal for fans from Augusta who might be willing to drive about 2 hours up I-20 to get to games at Turner Field (largely free of traffic) but will be less likely to devote an additional 1 to 2 hours to get through the most congested traffic area in Atlanta to reach the new ballpark.

Cameron Poe
865
Points
Cameron Poe 11/12/13 - 05:03 pm
1
0
It is a hotel tax. Stop

It is a hotel tax. Stop confusing that with a regular tax on citizens of Atlanta. The hotel tax can only be spent on the stadium (that is how it was set up) and is paid by people staying in hotels. So like I said before unless the citizens of Atlanta are staying in hotels instead of their homes they won't be paying. So how is that wasteful public spending? You are definitely down playing the problems with both areas and both stadiums. Are you kidding me? You have never felt unsafe at the dome? Have you ever been in the season ticket holder lots? There are reasons why there is nothing around Turner Field also. It has also come out today that the city will immediately demolish the old field and build an area for middle income families. So, erroneous on most counts. And are you saying that no one is sitting in traffic for one or two hours leaving those games? And never celebrating a championship in a building does not make it worth saving.

Old Augusta
292
Points
Old Augusta 11/12/13 - 09:33 pm
2
0
This article doesn't give both sides of the story

For starters, neither the Atlanta Braves or Atlanta Falcons actually owned their stadiums or any land around their stadiums.. Turner field was paid in full from the 1996 Olympic games and was basically a freebie. As far as ballparks go today, Turner field is very lame and the area it sits in depressed. Most of the new ball parks are very hip looking and usually in hip trendy parts of town with restaurants, etc. The area around the Braves stadium was never developed as the city of Atlanta promised. Scott, you say you have never felt unsafe at the Braves game. Spoken like a true member of the media who parks in designated lots with safe passage. The last game I went to was the play off game Vs the Dodgers and was scammed by a pay lot. that did NOT have space and then parked in one of the local Ghetto lots in which the neighbor told me as I'm getting my kids out of the car that I shouldn't park there because the locals broke into half the cars the last time. Instead of enjoying the game with my kids, I was terrified all game long that my DVD, radio, etc, etc would be gone. These are very common stories from fans. The new Braves park will be developed as a 60 acre development similar to Atlantic Station with restaurants, bars, hotels, etc. This is a HUGE home run for Cobb County and will pay huge dividends for the Vinings, Smyrna area. Whatever it cost Cobb County, they will make back ten fold with the new development. The new Dome is being paid for by A. Blank and Convention visitors Via the hotel tax, so what's not to love about that. Bottom line, both teams will now have some equity in their own stadiums and the state of Georgia is on the cutting edge. Cobb County will own the lease on the new Braves Stadium, but the Braves own the land and control how it will be developed. The traffic won't be so bad as people think and they have already signed on for light rail between Kennesaw and Smyrna before this deal was even announced. I can't believe anyone who has the facts would actually complain about it. It's actually a no brainer and the state of Georgia isn't taking a back seat to anyone. The Atlanta area is BOOMING. Anyone who says otherwise doesn't know what they are talking about.

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