Whoever had the Atlanta Braves in the “Who’s going to be the next MLB team to announce a new stadium” sweepstakes, raise your hand:
The Atlanta Braves are expected to announce today the team plans to relocate to Cobb County with a new stadium being ready for the 2017 season. They will be leaving Turner Field after their 20 year agreement expires at the end of the 2016 season.
The new stadium will be built near the intersection of I-75 and 285. The current site is under contract and set to close in early 2014.
That’s from the Marietta Daily Journal, and that’s all we know so far. Braves execs had previously indicated that they weren’t crazy about the current location of Turner Field, but to have a stadium deal all ready to announce — and to be ready by the 2017 season, which means groundbreaking next year sometime — is totally crazy.
The big question, obviously, is how they’re going to pay for it: If it’s going to involve any public money (presumably from Cobb County, which is not exactly flush), then presumably that would involve some legislative votes in the upcoming months. But if it’s not, then are the Braves really prepared to build a new stadium completely on their own dime? Is it that important to them to be at an intersection of two other freeways instead of the ones they’re at now?
One other possibility, though this is complete speculation: With that lease expiring in three years, it’s possible we’re seeing the beginning of a gambit to pressure the city of Atlanta to cut a deal for a new lease with publicly subsidized upgrades, as team execs hinted at back in April, or even a new stadium, or else face losing the team to the suburbs. We’ll know more later today, maybe — stay tuned.
UPDATE: Braves officials have now held a press conference, and:
The Braves said the project will be built in partnership with Cobb County. They indicated that Cobb County would provide public funds toward building the stadium but declined to provide details on that.
So, not on their own dime, then, which means there’s going to need to be a huge rush through the Cobb County legislative process to get this ready to go by next year.
And away we go…
UPDATE #2: The Atlanta Journal Constitution is now reporting (no named sources, just “we’re told”) that the Cobb County stadium would involve $450 million in public money, $200 million from the team.
UPDATE #3: Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed says $450 million in subsidies for the Braves is too rich for his blood, and he “wishes them well.”