So, you’ve heard the news right? The Atlanta Braves have decided to
begin a huge project make a large project known, and are planning on moving out of Turner Field by 2017, and into Cobb County for the foreseeable future. If you haven’t heard about this, try getting on the internet more often, and be sure to check out Brad’s write-up of the news from yesterday.
The latest update that began to creep onto the web on Monday night was that Atlanta politicians are saying that the Braves move to Cobb County was not exactly a sure thing. I have to believe that this is just some kind of political side to everything, because the Braves would certainly be in for a PR nightmare if they did all of this, and then didn’t actually change the address of their club.
So, let’s back off from all the news of this story for a minute and reflect on what all of this means for the Braves, and more importantly, for the fans.
When I initially heard the news I–like almost everyone else–was shocked:
“The Atlanta Braves are moving out of Atlanta? Yup. Nooooooooo.”
“So, where are they moving? Cobb County. Are they changing the name or logo??? Nope.”
“Wait, where is Cobb County? It’s just down the street. Oh ok, good.” *exhale*
That was basically my thought process when I found out about everything, but since learning about more of the details (vague though they are), I began to grow more excited about the move. I don’t live in Atlanta, but I definitely know about the traffic issues that Turner Field has, the parking problems that have existed for years, and the fact that there is basically nothing around the stadium for people before and after games.
Then once, I saw the famous ticket-holder-heat-map, I was convinced that this was a great move for the Braves, and I still am.
The largest positive for moving the stadium to this location in Cobb County is that the Braves are (literally) getting closer to their fan base. Putting the team closer to the people who are paying the price to come watch the team play seems like a pretty great move for those people buying tickets, as well as a savvy move for the team to get more money from ticket sales. This is an area where the team can hope to squeeze in a bit more revenue that they aren’t getting with their current, below-market TV deal.
Parking and transportation also seems to be another benefit of this move, but there still aren’t a whole lot of details out there about the amount of new spots or any semblance of public transportation planning. The most useful information I have found is this graphic, showing where parking will reportedly be located at the new site. Compared to a similar (ish) picture of Turner Field and the current parking, it appears to be a massive upgrade.
The last item in the pro column for me, is the size of the stadium. Based on a press conference after the release of the plans, the new stadium is going to hold less seats than Turner Field currently holds (50,096), and the rumored amount seems to be in the 41,000-42,000-seat range. Some of you may think that this is a negative, but I like the idea of the team packing the stadium a lot more than looking into the outfield and seeing chairs when I should be seeing crazy fans.
In 2013, the Braves had an average home attendance of just 31,465 people, which is 13th in the league. During this past year, the team only sold out 63.3 percent of the stadium, good for 21st in the league. The Braves really don’t need 50,000 seats if they are only getting those numbers, so why not make it seem less isolated out there in right field? At this stage in Major League Baseball, stadiums of this size are becoming obsolete, and that point was instantly reinforced here.
The Atlanta Braves will no longer be in the city of Atlanta. To me, this is the biggest downfall of the entire move–which should say something about how I feel about it. According to the new website (homeofthebraves.com), the team still has an Atlanta address (which I don’t really understand), but for all practical purposes, they aren’t in Atlanta. There are a number of teams that claim a city they don’t actually reside in and no one seems to care (the Detroit Pistons or Dallas Cowboys, for example), so I don’t see this as a major issue.
Some people will have to travel further to make it to games. Considering others will have a shorter trip, this is almost a moot point, but I do feel like we should give the people in the city a bit of love and feel their pain. But, I won’t do that for very long considering the drive from the city is exponentially shorter than my drive would be from the center of North Carolina. In the grand scheme, shouting from the rooftops about 15 miles seems misplaced.
On the side of history/nostalgia/etc., the Braves began playing at Turner Field in 1997. The team never won anything of relative importance while playing here unless you’re really jazzed about the 11 division championships (and 2 NL pennants) that the team won there (the full division title streak began in Atlanta Fulton-County stadium). In addition, Turner Field has become a virtual house of horrors in recent seasons, acting as the site for both the “Brooks Conrad Game” and the “Infield Fly Rule Game”.
The positives definitely outweigh the negatives in my opinion, and if you want someone else’s view on the overall proceedings, be sure to check out Gondeee’s post from yesterday.
That’s probably enough from me, I’m still interested in hearing what you guys think about the move, particularly if you especially agree or disagree with any of the points I made. As someone who doesn’t live in Atlanta, I definitely understand that I might not be seeing all of the negatives for fans in the area. So be sure to let your thoughts be known in the comments below. If you don’t want to lay out your concerns in written form, here is an incredibly simple poll to weigh in on the move itself:
Stay tuned as we continue our coverage of this crazy and developing story.