If current trends are going to continue, circa-1990 stadiums like SkyDome/Rogers Centre, New Comiskey Park/U.S. Cellular Field, and even Camden Yards would have to be replaced by the end of this decade. Okay, probably not Camden Yards — though I wouldn’t be shocked to see the Baltimore Orioles ask for “improvements.” But it’s going to be very interesting to see whether teams start demanding new stadiums, and if so how they justify them, as the first wave of “retro” parks start going out of warranty.
It turns out the winner in the “Who’ll be the first MLB team to demand more subsidies for their ’90s-era stadium?” is, not the Orioles or Toronto Blue Jays, but the Atlanta Braves:
According to Mike Plant, Executive Vice President of Business Operations for the Braves, the team is in talks with the City of Atlanta over their lease of Turner Field.
“We’re happy staying here,” explained Plant. “We certainly need to do some renovation work here. When you look at this stadium and compare it to your house and my house, I mean, eventually you need a new roof and windows need to be painted.”
Well, sure you do, and every team needs to spend some money on maintenance and improvements over time—
Plant said funding for the stadium development would come from a variety of sources, including city, state and federal tax incentive programs as well as the Braves organization.
Oh, that kind of window-painting.
No word from Plant on the scope of the proposed work on Turner Field, or how much it all would cost, but this is clearly the opening salvo of a campaign to let the Braves go back to the start of the line for stadium subsidies, as NFL teams with ’90s stadiums are already doing in droves. (Plant name-checked Falcons‘ new stadium plans in his talk, in fact, and the Braves have even hired the guy who wrote the NFL team’s economic impact report to do the same for them.) The worrying thing here is that there are a lot of baseball stadiums in their tender teenage years — 14 of them opened between 1989 and 2000 — so this could easily end up the start of a rush by other MLB teams to demand publicly funded upgrades to their parks as well. The hope is that at least Atlanta elected officials will hold the line on how much public money is thrown at upgrading a 17-year-old building … though maybe it’s best not to hope for too much.