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Braves to leave Turner Field after only 16 years

They complain downtown stadium hurts attendance

Turner Field
Turner Field

Wretched excess: Major League Baseball's Atlanta Braves announced today (Nov. 11) that they will depart Turner Field in downtown Atlanta and move to a new ballpark in 2017 in suburban Cobb County.

Turner Field opened in 1997. According to the Atlanta Journal Constitution and Yahoo.Sports, Cobb County will throw in $450 million and the Braves $200 million. (Note: teams count as their contribution so-called "naming rights" and "advertising rights" that really should count as the government's contribution, because it is spending far more than the team.)

Neil deMause of FieldofSchemes.com says that Cobb County "is not exactly flush."

The team complains that Turner Field's downtown location hurts attendance.

In San Diego, the Padres claimed they had to have a downtown location to survive, but comparative attendance has hardly been impressive compared with their old location at Qualcomm.

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Turner Field
Turner Field

Wretched excess: Major League Baseball's Atlanta Braves announced today (Nov. 11) that they will depart Turner Field in downtown Atlanta and move to a new ballpark in 2017 in suburban Cobb County.

Turner Field opened in 1997. According to the Atlanta Journal Constitution and Yahoo.Sports, Cobb County will throw in $450 million and the Braves $200 million. (Note: teams count as their contribution so-called "naming rights" and "advertising rights" that really should count as the government's contribution, because it is spending far more than the team.)

Neil deMause of FieldofSchemes.com says that Cobb County "is not exactly flush."

The team complains that Turner Field's downtown location hurts attendance.

In San Diego, the Padres claimed they had to have a downtown location to survive, but comparative attendance has hardly been impressive compared with their old location at Qualcomm.

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Comments
34

To celebrate the announced gift from the taxpayers of Cobb County, Liberty Media has hired actor Seth Green to do a reprise of his famous Rally's Cha-CHING commercial in which Seth rejoiced at the high prices his fictional fast food restaurant was charging.

(Not really, but I'm guessing someone at Liberty Media is going "Cha-Cha-CHING" with a big smile on their face right now).

Nov. 11, 2013

ImJustABill: What I can't figure is when this passed voters of Cobb County. I suspect it didn't. At least, I didn't hear a word about it. This all came up suddenly today. Best, Don Bauder

Nov. 11, 2013

Yeah - it seemed like they just skipped the usual "we're going to move because we've got an old stadium" dance. The Olympics wasn't that long ago - they really didn't get that many years of use out of Turner Field.

Nov. 11, 2013

ImJustABill: If they open the new stadium in 2017, as planned, they will only have been in Turner Field for 20 years. The Red Sox's Fenway Park opened in 1912 and the Cubs's Wrigley Field in 1913. Wrigley is getting a major facelift. Best, Don Bauder

Nov. 11, 2013

A memorandum of understanding with the Braves is scheduled for presentation to the Cobb County Commission on Nov. 26, at which time the financing package would receive final approval.

They will have to raise taxes.

None

Nov. 11, 2013

Ponzi: I would think Cobb County will have to raise taxes. But there will be the usual false argument that it will pay for itself. Best, Don Bauder

Nov. 11, 2013

I'm waiting to hear from people like Vince Mudd, who is championing the 2024 Olympics for San Diego. Maybe he can tell us what the great long-term benefits of spending billions on Olympic "Venues" when many of them will sit unused, or at best under-used for the rest of it's life, before they are torn down. Re: Turner Field--one of the main reasons they are moving to the suburbs is not enough parking in the vicinity around Turner Field is hurting their attendance. And many in San Diego are insisting a new Chargers Stadium needs to be built downtown. I guess it doesn't make any sense to keep the stadium site (new or old) in a centrally-located Mission Valley.

Nov. 11, 2013

I suspected that the team's objection to the place might be valid. But then, didn't the city give them a nice new ballpark and a sweetheart deal? Seems that something like parking could be solved far more cheaply than relocating. Atlanta is a true hub city, with arterial streets (and now freeways) radiating out in all directions. And I do mean ALL directions. There is no ocean, sea or lake, or mountain range that limits the place. You can take off in any direction and go dozens of miles unimpeded. That means that fans can drive to a central location near downtown from every direction. Oh, the justification for this move is, in part, that it will move the park closer to the people who buy tickets, which is probably the more affluent (and I must add, white) northern suburbs. But then it moves itself out of the traffic hub and makes itself less accessible from all the other directions.

Atlanta, despite the opinions of many/most of its residents, and especially the natives, does not have it all figured out. The Olympics put the city back on the map, and showed the world that the South has risen again. But at what cost?

Nov. 11, 2013

Visduh: The South has risen again (without Confederate money), but that doesn't mean it makes intelligent decisions. It seems to me that the rhetoric I hear coming from Southern politicians suggests there is still a long way to rise intellectually. Best, Don Bauder

Nov. 11, 2013

aardvark: Qualcomm is ideally located, as the Padres have found out from their weak attendance record downtown. Why the Chargers and their corporate welfare friends want a stadium downtown is a puzzle, particularly since the combined stadium/convention center expansion looks less likely and in any case wouldn't succeed. Best, Don Bauder

Nov. 11, 2013

Don: the Padres had the chance to build the new ballpark next to the Qualcomm site, As the group who developed it were waiting for the Padres' decision. They claimed they couldn't make up their mind (or some story like that), so the developers built the mall with Costco, Lowes and IKEA. Then, surprisingly the Padres claimed they had no choice but to move downtown. If the "powers that be" could have seen anything at all back then, Mission Valley could have been the best place to house all sports together, with a stadium, ballpark, and arena. Of course, there is always that pesky little question of who would pay for it all...

Nov. 11, 2013

aardvark: But the Padres wanted downtown so they could get redevelopment financing. Best, Don Bauder

Nov. 12, 2013

Chargers want a stadium downtown because they think that's their best hope of getting taxpayer money to pay for their new stadium. The Chargers have hopscotched from site to site in SD County looking for someone to absorb the cost of a new football stadium.

Agreed that the Q is the best location. They should build a new football stadium next to the old one and then use the site of the old one for parking after demolition, as Denver did.

Nov. 11, 2013

Matt101: That would make sense -- as long as the taxpayers don't pick up the tab. And the Chargers won't do anything if they can't get public money to pay for about 80% of the deal. Best, Don Bauder

Nov. 12, 2013

Don: I don't think their attendance would have been any better if they had built Petco Park in Mission Valley--the new-factor of the park would have worn off just like it does in most other new ballparks, and the attendance would be about where it is now. JMO

Nov. 11, 2013

aardvark: At Petco, Padres attendance rose the first few years, then went backward -- below Qualcomm levels -- after the novelty effect wore off. The same might have happened with a new stadium at the Qualcomm site, but I think it would have been slightly less likely, because the Q has such a good location. Best, Don Bauder

Nov. 12, 2013

Don: The main reason the Q attendance levels were still good from 1999-2003 was due to "Baseball Night in San Diego"--the Saturday night giveaways that routinely drew 50-60k on Saturday nights. Caps, beach towels, clocks, etc. were the bigger draw on Saturdays (definitely not the crappy baseball that was being played those days), but with a smaller ballpark, those big crowds couldn't have happened. However, your point about the Q is spot-on--it was, is, and always will be a better location for any sports venue ever proposed for San Diego.

Nov. 12, 2013

aardvark: After the Petco novelty wore off, the Padres cut prices sharply and tried other tricks to boost attendance. I don't know how comparable the Petco gimmicks were with the Qualcomm gimmicks. Best, Don Bauder

Nov. 12, 2013

Don: Even with the Petco price cuts, the tickets were still higher than they were at Qualcomm. The best trick to boost attendance would have been better players, but that would have involved a higher payroll, but we know that Moores (and later Moorad) didn't want to play that game.

Nov. 12, 2013

aardvark: Remember those promises Moores made? Just give him a stadium and he would bring in good players and produce a winning team. Some of the top players then drank the Kool Aid and said before public audiences that a new stadium would bring great teams. Those very same players were among the first to go. Best, Don Bauder

Nov. 12, 2013

I encourage everyone to read the "Fieldofschemes.com" link that Don Bauder mentions in his story above. VERY interesting reading.

Nov. 11, 2013

aardvark: Yes, in fact it is a good idea to check fieldofschemes.com on a regular basis. It keeps track of the pro sports scams. Best, Don Bauder

Nov. 11, 2013

if they build downtown, how will they rape the fans with parking fees?

Nov. 12, 2013

Murphyjunk: I'm sure they have that penciled out. Best, Don Bauder

Nov. 12, 2013

That will be interesting, but there won't be much parking controlled by the Chargers, unlike at the Q. Oh, and forget about taking an RV down there, as there will be no place to park them.

Nov. 12, 2013

aardvark: I didn't mean to say that the Chargers would have parking under control downtown. What I meant to say is that they will have cooked up financial gimmicks to replace parking income they once had. Best, Don Bauder

Nov. 12, 2013

Don: Absolutely--people think the ticket price increase at Petco Park over Qualcomm was steep for the Padres; wait until the Charger fans see how much ticket prices will jump for a new football palace. Charger fans wouldn't be able to afford to park anything after they buy tickets to games in a new stadium.

Nov. 12, 2013

It has been my observation, going back thirty years, that many or most true Charger "fans" could seldom afford to see a game live. Oh, the success or failure of the team on a week-to-week basis made them happy or sad, and all that sort of thing, but it didn't translate into butts in seats. Exactly who was buying tickets to sit in the overpriced nosebleeder seats was never clear, but I knew more than a few diehard Charger followers who had seldom or never seen a live game. But that didn't stop them from making the team and the NFL the centerpiece of their lives, and from spending what seemed like every waking moment talking NFL and Chargers, as if they made any real difference in their lives. It can only be assumed that whenever those fans scraped up the price of a ticket, they would go buy one.

I'd suspect that the season tickets were bought by affluent folks, or by the businesses they controlled, and that if they didn't use the tickets themselves, would give them away to friends, customers, fellow church members, etc. Exactly who buys tickets now is less clear, but there has to be an upper limit to prices. Doesn't there?

Nov. 12, 2013

Visduh: I suspect you are right. A good percentage of Chargers and Padres tickets are bought in bulk by corporations and other groups, and distributed to loyal employees. Best, Don Bauder

Nov. 12, 2013

aardvark: First will come an announcement that prices will not go up. (Remember Moores saying that?) Then will come a huge boost in all prices -- tickets, concessions, everything. After the novelty wears off, the prices will start coming down, as they have at Petco. Best, Don Baudeer

Nov. 12, 2013

These schemes have little to with sports, Qualcomm remains a wonderful place to see football. We must keep an eyes on all the cards in this game of three card monte. The Chargers want to develop the present Stadium site with condos, and will condemn land around the new Stadium as well, I suspect condos there also. Construction companies also are in on the scheme, the just plain idiotic retractable roof proposal could only be for the purpose of driving up the price. There never was a football game played in bad weather in San Diego, unless sunstroke counts.

Nov. 13, 2013

Psycholizard: Absolutely. Putting a roof on a stadium in a Mediterranean climate is crazy. The rationale is it will also be used as a convention center, but there are two things wrong with that: 1. it would not be contiguous to the present center; and 2. the places that already use stadiums for convention center space (e.g. Atlanta, Indianapolis) have not found it satisfactory. Best, Don Bauder

Nov. 14, 2013

Don: Atlanta has solved that problem--by spending another $1 billion + on a NEW retractable roof stadium replacing the Georgia Dome--that opened in 1991. The new dome should open in 2017. Utter insanity.

Nov. 14, 2013

aardvark: It's called Southern Hospitality -- for the corporate welfare crowd. Best, Don Bauder

Nov. 14, 2013

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