As many of you may have heard, the Atlanta Braves are moving out of the city of Atlanta and will be building a new stadium in Cobb County Georgia. There is a lot of positive and negative feedback coming from this move. I want to discuss all this feedback in order to weigh it all to see just how well the scales balance.
I have to admit that I have a vested interest in this move because the new stadium will be about three miles from my house. I will try not to bias my telling of “the story” and will try my best to cover it thoroughly.
First I want to compare the present location with the new location to show why any move at all could be desired by the Braves or the fans. I will also try to evaluate whether the new site is good for all concerned.
The new stadium location is going to be located in a different county than the old stadium’s present county but it will no longer be within any city limits. However this location will allow the Braves to still be called the Atlanta Braves because the new address is listed as an Atlanta address even though it technically isn’t in Atlanta. This new location is to be at the intersection of I-75 and I-285 on the north side of the metro area.
This location will give access to two interstate highways. The old location had access to two interstates as well. It was located at the intersection of I-20 and I-75/I-85. The new location’s proximity to I-285 is more advantageous than I-20 access because I-285 will directly take you all the way around Atlanta thus giving better access to all of metro Atlanta. I-75/I-85 in downtown Atlanta is a much larger interstate than I-75 in Cobb County because downtown there are as many 8 lanes in each direction, where as I-75 in Cobb County has up to 6 lanes each direction. I-285 presently has four lanes in each direction where as I-20 has up to 5 lanes in each direction. However I-285 is in the process of being widened and may be considerably wider by the time the stadium is built. I say this to show the difference in transportation access for those who prefer to drive themselves to and from the stadium for both the new and old location. The new location however will not have the congestion of the downtown traffic.
The parking at the old stadium was so bad that many fans paid to park in the local homeowner’s front yards. There are no parking decks available at the stadium nor are there any in close proximity. Therefore parking is a big problem with the old site which leaves Atlanta’s public transportation system as the next best alternative. That system is called MARTA and it has its issues as well. Since there are no train stations nearby, the trip on MARTA includes a transfer from train to bus. I have taken that route and it was no fun. Since MARTA has been forbidden to enter Cobb County all the public transportation to the new stadium will have to be by Cobb Transit. Cobb County’s transit system is powered only by buses. If someone wanted to use MARTA to access the new stadium they would have to transfer to a Cobb Transit bus somewhere in Fulton County to get to the stadium.
MARTA moving into Cobb County may even be a bigger issue now because this could be the event to push for MARTA’s expansion into Cobb County. Cobb residents have fought against MARTA’s move into the county ever since MARTA’s conception. If it was allowed to come into the county our sales tax would automatically be increased by a penny. That alone is reason enough to object to the expansion of MARTA in Cobb County but it would help stadium transit needs if the train station was built within walking distance of the stadium. It would further help the fans if it actually expanded even further out into the farthest reaches of the county. One of the biggest objections to MARTA’s expansion into the outlying counties is the threat of the expansion of crime that could ride the tracks out of Atlanta.
Atlanta traffic problems will be a factor in either location. That is because traffic is bad for the Atlanta metro area no matter where you live. Downtown rush hour traffic is bad because of all the people in all those skyscrapers trying to get out of town. Once away from the stadium area they head in six directions North I-75, South I-75, North I-85, South I-85, East I-20 and West I-20. Cobb County rush hour traffic is bad because of all the people coming from West bound I-285, north bound I-285 and all those people from downtown going north on I-75. I-285 has the added traffic issue of all the through trucks being forced to travel on I-285 because they are prohibited from going through Atlanta. This particular intersection is a major tractor trailer junction where the trucks have to get on and off I-75 via I-285. However the new location will become a commuting nightmare at game time especially when it coincides with rush hour. It will make the commute for all those people who live in close proximity to the new stadium an absolutely nightmare.
The new location also has two local malls within walking distance. The Cobb Galleria Mall is an upscale mall with upscale shopping, good eateries, a movie theater and the Waverly Hotel. The Cumberland Mall is an old established mall with excellent eateries and good shopping. There are also at least a dozen or so good hotels within proximity of the stadium site. There are countless other retail stores, restaurants and other entertainment venues within close proximity. The area is already a well-established commercial area which is very advantageous to the new stadium and fans.
The foremost advantage that the new location has over the present location is security. The downtown location can be a dangerous place to visit. No one could ever feel completely safe walking the streets near Turner Stadium. If you walked just a few blocks from the stadium it is like walking into a ghetto. Atlanta has been actively trying to cleanup the neighborhood around the stadium but they haven’t been able to give the crime much curb appeal. The new location is nothing like that. It is within an established commercial area with hotels, office buildings, restaurants and retail store. There should be no fear of walking the streets in any direction for miles at the new location.
The Braves at present, reportedly generate about $100 million in business for Atlanta which brings in about $8.6 million in taxes for the county, city and state. The figures for the new construction project alone is estimated to support over 5200 jobs and generate a payroll increase for the area of $235 million. The new location will generate even more revenue than at the old location, because the Braves organization will be also opening other businesses in the area. That is one of the reasons they are moving from downtown because they couldn’t comfortably create such businesses at the the old location and the city continually fought them on that point. They estimate that it will bring 3400 new jobs and $13.5 million in new annual payroll benefits for Cobb County from the new businesses the organization will create in Cobb County. Since they are leaving the city of Atlanta they will no longer have to pay any city taxes and since they are leaving Fulton County for a county with a lower tax rate the Braves will probably save several million in taxes each year.
At present it is estimated that the Braves are directly responsible for supporting about 1700 full time jobs at their present location. That figure should be considerably higher at their new location because of the new businesses they will be starting there.
As a sports organization, the Braves are unique in the fact that they draw about one third of their visiting fans from outside of their metro area. The Braves fan base is not only located in the city of Atlanta, Atlanta metro area and Georgia but it is actually also spread out over the entire southeastern region of the country. Ted Turner can be credited for that because of his airing of the games on his network so many years ago.
All these remote fans generate even more revenue for hotels, restaurants and retail shops in the proximity of the stadium. At present the new location probably doesn’t have enough hotel rooms in close proximity to accommodate the new requirement for the visiting fans. However there is plenty of time to build new hotels to fix that problem. The Braves’ Organization has already considered this possible problem because the new complex will include a new hotel. Also present hotels located around the city could possibly supply transportation for their guest to and from the stadium. The new location could make it easier for the out-of-towners because they could avoid the drive into the heart of the city. I’m sure that will probably thrill most of them.
The present location has nothing in close proximity that would draw visitors. There are a lot of hotels and restaurants in downtown but those downtown businesses are a mile or more away from the stadium. There are many upscale hotels and places to eat and be entertained but none are within walking distance and especially not a “safe” walking distance.
The new location will have easier access to parking, food, shopping and probably hotels. It will have improved security. The new stadium should of course be a much more updated modern stadium. The Braves organization will stand to make a lot more money not only from the new business adventures they will embark on but they will in all probability sell more tickets. Many local residents who were reluctant to go to a game at the old location will feel encouraged to buy game tickets and go to a game at the new location. It is been proven that the move is great for the Braves but what about the local economy, local residents and local taxpayers, how will they fair?
I have already mentioned how the new business will bring jobs and revenue to the county and that will help the county with new tax revenue and jobs but the stadium comes at a cost. Cobb County taxpayers will “supposedly” have to pay $300 million of the total $672 million needed to build the stadium. We can only hope that is all we have to pay because as you know cost over runs always happen and those figure always get inflated. Therefore expect the bottom line to be much larger in the end. However the Braves organization claims that the cost over runs will be paid for by the team and not the tax payers. Let us hope that is true.
Now we have to wonder how the county is planning on acquiring the $300 million dollars to pay for their part of the stadium. The politicians will probably say that they will tax the out-of-towners through hotels, rental cars and restaurants. That means a night out on the town for everyone will be more expensive even for the locals. They could of course try to raise property taxes and no one likes getting their property taxes raised so that would create an uproar. The biggest problem for Cobb County is that it presently isn’t operating with any surplus revenue, as a matter of fact it is struggling. Therefore this new financial burden will have to come from some new revenue or rather from some new tax. That means that Cobb County residents or taxpayers will inevitably have to pay this $300 million.
Every time there is a home game or event at the stadium the local residents will suffer the most with the new influx of traffic and people swamping the area. Remember that the stadium can and probably will be used for things other than just Braves Games.
The immediate area of the new stadium has a very low crime rate at present but with the crowds of possible prey coming to the area that will draw the predators. The locals can expect a rise in their crime rate because a draw of predators always causes a spread of crime into the outlying areas.
So you can see that the issue is a complicated one and has many pluses and many minuses. Whether it is a positive or negative for you depends on your priorities. If you love the Braves and want the best for them then this is probably a positive for you. If you are a Cobb County taxpayer then the possible new tax is probably a negative to you. If you live in close proximity to the stadium and love your home like I do then the location is probably a negative to you. If you are a Cobb County taxpayer who lives in close proximity to the new location and you happen to love the braves, then you are probably in a quandary.
This article was written by Bertrum J Meisner Jr. I am not a professional writer. I am just a common every day laborer like most of you. I write from my heart, logic and life experiences. I am a devout Constitutional conservative and Christian. My only degree is in life experiences, which comes from a lifetime of learning from life. I derived my education from being part of this great nation and that has given me more of an education than I could ever get from any text book. I love this country and everything it is supposed to stand for. I write to bring it back to its roots and to help stop the destruction that is coming to this country both morally and physically.
Bertrum James Meisner Jr.
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