Public Money For Falcons' New Stadium Could Have Led To Braves Leaving Turner Field
The "primary reason Atlanta is unlikely to actively challenge" the Braves' move to a new stadium in nearby Cobb County is that spending public money on stadiums "has become a volatile topic" in the city, according to Galloway & Bluestein of the ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION. Remaking the Falcons stadium has "drained the well of public good will." Galloway & Bluestein: "If you presume that the city of Atlanta and Mayor Kasim Reed were in the loop on this one -- and the two parties were in the midst of lease negotiations, it would explain why he fought so hard to keep the Falcons in the downtown area" (AJC.com, 11/11). Reed in a statement said, "We have been working very hard with the Braves for a long time, and at the end of the day, there was simply no way the team was going to stay in downtown Atlanta without city taxpayers spending hundreds of millions of dollars to make that happen" (BIZJOURNALS.com, 11/11). In Atlanta, Jeff Schultz writes if Reed "hadn't been carrying [Falcons Owner] Arthur Blank’s water for months, making it seem like a Falcons’ potential move to the suburbs was like the coming of apocalypse, he would deserve praise for his comments" yesterday. But he is "being a complete phony because he took the opposite position with the Falcons." Reed "backed the wrong horse," because if "anybody had a reason to gripe about their situation," it is the Braves and not the Falcons (ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION, 11/12). Georgia State Rep. Earl Ehrhart said, "My personal opinion, I think Arthur Blank sucked up all the money that the city would have had to do anything to fix the stadium that it needed and there just wasn't anything for them to do so they left the Braves out to dry" (MARIETTA DAILY JOURNAL, 11/12).
HAD TO PICK A SIDE? USA TODAY's Ray Glier asks, "Did the city back the wrong team?" Invest Atlanta board member Julian Bene said, "The Falcons were not worth what we were giving them in hotel/motel tax because the number of games is so small." Bene added, "Now you are talking about the Braves, who play eight times as many games as the Falcons, and you are talking about a little more jobs' impact from that particular team. ... It's pretty shocking that we funded the wrong stadium" (USA TODAY, 11/12). The JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION's Schultz wrote the "lack of development is why the Braves want out." Schultz: "How do you think they felt when city officials started making (empty) promises to the Falcons and Atlanta residents about mixed used development and new restaurants around the proposed football stadium, despite the fact the area surrounding the baseball stadium remains an open sore? I’m not endorsing the Braves’ move, mind you. They’re leaving a perfectly good stadium. But I understand their mindset" (AJC.com, 11/11). Former MLBer Tom Glavine, who played 17 years with the club, said of the move, "It makes sense. I think if you ask people what they don't like about Turner Field, it's getting in and out of there and there's nothing to do down there. And I think most people enjoy the ballparks where there's an experience around it, so with the move the Braves certainly have an opportunity to not only address the getting in and out of there part of it but also address the making it more of an atmosphere that’s not just destination oriented" (WXIA-NBC, 11/11).