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SBD/November 13, 2013/Facilities
Atlanta Mayor Vows To Redevelop Turner Field Site, But City Council Wants To Keep Team
Published November 13, 2013
CITY COUNCIL UNHAPPY: The ATLANTA BUSINESS CHRONICLE's Wenk & Saporta noted the Atlanta City Council yesterday held a press conference "to complain they weren't included in the negotiations" with the Braves. Council President Ceasar Mitchell said, "We collectively feel a great deal of disappointment." Council member Michael Julian Bond: "I just want to make an appeal to the Braves. We want you to stay" (BIZJOURNALS.com, 11/12). Bond added that the decision regarding taxpayer funding for improvements to Turner Field "should have been vetted by the council." Mitchell said that the group has "requested a meeting with the Braves to discuss what, if anything, can be done to keep the team downtown." He added that the council also has "asked to meet with Reed about the negotiations." The ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION's Bluestein & Leslie note Reed "went to lengths to show the city wasn't asleep at the wheel, and his office released a timeline that showed city officials have been in talks with the team for about 18 months over its lease renewal and plans to redevelop the surrounding communities" (ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION, 11/13). Fulton County Commission Chair John Eaves yesterday said Reed's redevelopment plans were "news to me." He added, "I have not been a part of any sort of conversation about any sort of alternative plans. ... It's surprising, and I hope going forward, whatever the plans are, we all will be better served if it's a collaborative and partnering effort." Eaves: "It's imperative going forward, whatever discussions are made in terms of redevelopment for that area, that the county should be there as a partner with the city of Atlanta" ("The 5:44 with Denis O'Hayer," WABE-FM, 11/12).
FALCONS VS. BRAVES: Bluestein & Galloway wrote the Falcons' ties to downtown Atlanta "made their situation more complex" than the Braves' situation and "maybe even more pressing." The Georgia World Congress Center Authority "owns the Georgia Dome as well the sprawling convention center that surrounds it," meaning that Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal's administration "had a vested interest in keeping the Dome or a successor facility on the campus occupied." In addition, many of the city's corporate interests "supported the Falcons pitch to stay in downtown, either out of support" for Falcons Owner Arthur Blank or a "desire for a new trinket to add to a downtown that will soon include a Civil Rights museum and a shrine to college football." But Turner Field is "somewhat of an anomaly, a stadium located in an island of parking lots that always seemed alienated from the rest of the city." That may be why business leaders were "deafeningly silent on the proposed move" by the Braves (AJC.com, 11/12).
LEFT BEHIND: In Atlanta, Kyle Wingfield writes, "I don't think it's a coincidence the Turner Field area remained underdeveloped for so long -- especially in the 17 years since the stadium opened for the 1996 Summer Games, but also going back to the opening of Atlanta Stadium in the mid-1960s." One of Turner Field's "major problems is it doesn't sit in the general direction the city's development has taken, or stands to take" (ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION, 11/13). USA TODAY's Ray Glier notes the Braves and Atlanta taxpayers "did not pay a dime" for Turner Field. That the facility "was free" may be why it "seems so disposable." Georgia State Univ. economist Bruce Seaman said, "It was one of the best examples of an Olympic facility being put to long-term use. Other cities struggled to find a use for facilities after the Olympics. I find it a tragedy that they will tear down this stadium. This was one of the great legacies of the 1996 Olympics" (USA TODAY, 11/13). In Minneapolis, Michael Rand writes under the header, "Atlanta Has A Stadium Fiasco On Its Hands." Rand writes of Turner Field, "We're supposed to believe that after 17 seasons, it's just not tenable? We're supposed to believe that all due diligence for upgrades and use of the existing facility just won't work? Absurd" (Minneapolis STAR-TRIBUNE, 11/13).