SBD/December 9, 2013/Facilities

Braves Make Pitch To Real Estate Developers For New Ballpark, Ask For Quick Response

One-fourth of the 60-acre development will be dedicated to the Braves' new ballpark
The Braves "delivered their pitch to real estate developers Friday, formally opening the search for a partner" on a proposed $400M mixed-use development adjacent to a new Cobb County ballpark, according to Tim Tucker of the ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION. The Braves in a 60-page document "laid out an aggressive timeline for getting started on a project to put retail stores, restaurants, apartments/condominiums, offices and hotels just outside the ballpark." The plan "calls for one-fourth of a 60-acre site in the Cumberland Mall/Galleria area to be dedicated to the stadium, leaving ample space available for a multi-story mixed-use development that would be centered ... along a pedestrian boulevard leading from Cobb Parkway to the ballpark." The Braves said that they "expect 700,000 to 1 million square feet of space in the development’s first phase to open simultaneously" with the ballpark in '17. The Braves "asked approximately 50 developers for information regarding their experience with mixed-use projects, their financial strength and their vision for the development, among other things," and the team "asked for responses quickly -- by Dec. 20." Braves Exec VP/Business Operations Mike Plant: "It is certainly to make sure people understand, 'Look, we’re moving. This train is moving down the tracks.'" The document states that a short list of three to five candidates "will be selected by Jan. 10 with the goal of completing a 'partnership agreement' with one of them by March 14" (ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION, 12/7).

TED TALK
: In Atlanta, Wenk & Sams report the redevelopment of the Turner Field site after the Braves leave "could match or exceed in scope downtown’s two other major makeovers" -- Underground Atlanta in the '80s and Centennial Olympic Park in the '90s. At the "center of whatever happens at Turner Field will be Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, whose political legacy could be tarnished by losing the Braves and possibly tearing down a city icon" in Turner Field. Possibilities include a "development that would uplift the surrounding neighborhoods such as Summerhill, which have suffered in the stadium's shadow." Although Reed in November announced that Turner Field "would be knocked down and a middle-class development would be built in its place -- plans are far from final." One possibility is that Georgia State Univ. "could acquire Turner Field to house its growing athletic program," and a "more exciting option could be to transform Turner Field into a residential and retail development, keeping portions of the stadium facade to preserve the city's Olympic legacy." City residents "seem to favor low-density residential and retail development in place of Turner Field" (ATLANTA BUSINESS CHRONICLE, 12/6 issue).

PLAYING POLITICS
: CNBC’s Becky Quick noted a "battle is brewing” between the Braves and the Tea Party over public funds for the team’s new ballpark. CNBC's Andrew Ross Sorkin said public funds are okay to be used for sports venues "if you can actually proves it makes money." But Sorkin said the "problem … is it usually doesn’t work." Quick said the Republican party in this case “is saying that yes, it is going to bring in a lot of economic activity over the next 30 years and so they think it’s a win for Cobb County. But if you go back and you look at the history of these things a lot of times it doesn’t turn out to be that way." Sorkin said there does seem to be "some behind-the-scenes shenanigans because it came to vote without a true airing" of the whole plan, "but more broadly this is what governments do." CNBC's Joe Kernen said when a "city is able to keep and attract a professional sports team it almost seems like it's not totally just private enterprise. It seems like it's partly associated with the municipality where it is" ("Squawk Box," CNBC, 12/9).
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