SBD/November 21, 2013/Facilities

Braves Unveil Plans For $400M Entertainment District Beside Cobb County Ballpark

Funding would come from the Braves and a potential development partner
The Braves yesterday unveiled plans for the $400M "entertainment district that would spring up" beside their new $672M Cobb County ballpark that is set to open in '17, according to Bluestein & Tucker of the ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION. The district, which is "still in early planning phases, would feature a street lined with retail, restaurants and bars leading up" to the ballpark. A ring of trees and greenspace would "surround the stadium and entertainment district, and a small amphitheater would be at the center of the development." The $400M would be "entirely funded by the Braves and a potential development partner, which has not yet been selected." Braves Exec VP/Business Operations Mike Plant said that the team "may also choose to develop the land on its own." The first phase of the project would "largely consist of retail, restaurants and a possible hotel, totaling between 700,000 and one million square feet." The second phase "would include more residential options." Meanwhile, about 2,000 parking spaces "would be built under the stadium, along with roughly 4,000 other spaces on the 60-acre site" (ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION, 11/21). Braves President John Schuerholz today said of next Tuesday's Cobb County Commission vote to approve the team's MOU with the county, "We have no Plan B. We think very positively that the vote will go in our favor. We've had a lot of great, positive feedback about the feelings of many, many people in Cobb County and the leadership of Cobb County" (BIZJOURNALS.com, 11/21).

IRONY HERE? ESPN.com's Jim Caple wrote of the Braves' leaving Turner Field, "Just playing in a great ballpark apparently isn't enough for owners these days. The team must also benefit financially from surrounding entertainment, drinking and shopping centers." That the franchise wants to "move to an area where it believes it can create a neighboring entertainment and shopping district is ironic, given that Turner Field has generated no such businesses in 17 years." The exceptions are the "facilities that actually do generate significant surrounding business." Most facilities "have not done so, and that includes Turner Field." This is why new stadiums "should not be viewed as economic drivers or as guaranteed ways for teams to become 'competitive.'" Ballparks "are not financial game-changers for a city" (ESPN.com, 11/20).
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