Cursed Braves pedestrian bridge delayed at least one year, maybe forever

If you’re at least a semi-regular reader of this site, you’re probably aware that the Atlanta Braves‘ pedestrian bridge to get fans to its new stadium isn’t going too well: Nobody’s sure yet how much it will cost or who’ll pay for it, and it won’t be ready by the time the stadium opens in April 2017. In fact, you might be tempted to conclude that everything that could go wrong already has — but you would be incorrect, because this just happened:

A high-placed source tells Around Town it’s unlikely the Cobb-Marietta Coliseum and Exhibit Hall Authority will agree to build the controversial “Braves Bridge” over Interstate 285 that would link the county’s Galleria Convention Centre — and its hundreds of parking spaces — and the SunTrust Field complex…

BUT AT THE END of the day, the key player on the bridge’s fate may well be the other major player on the Galleria “campus” — Childress Klein Properties. The real estate giant must have ironclad assurances that the many blue-chip tenants of its massive office towers there won’t see their parking disrupted. That goes for the upscale Renaissance Waverly Hotel, too, which adjoins the Galleria.

And Childress Klein might hold not one, but two trump cards when it comes to the bridge. That is, not only does CK own the air rights over the Galleria property and its decks, but CK — not the county or state — also owns the roads that snake around and through the campus. It’s hard to see how any bridge or overpass could be built there without CK’s OK.

Seriously? You go and build a stadium in the middle of a woodland next to a suburban highway intersection, with the plan being that fans will park across the highway and walk over a bridge to get to games, and you don’t even get permission to build the bridge before you build the stadium?

Okay, so this is all unnamed sources, and even if things are as bad as they sound, it’s always possible the Braves and/or Cobb County could paper things over with money to make up for lost Galleria parking. (As somebody famous may have famously noted, everyone has their price.) Still, it’s unlikely the Marietta Daily Journal is just making up the land rights issues — plus, Cobb County commission chair Tim Lee just declared today that the bridge would be delayed at least a year, declaring, “,” which is the kind of thing one usually says when one is rethinking the idea of the bridge.

All this has come to pass, of course, because in order to get the Braves stadium deal signed off on fast, in addition to hiring secret lawyers, Lee and the rest of the county commission signed off on building the stadium without finalizing a transportation plan. That was almost two years ago, and the transportation plan may still not be ready for months yet, no doubt at least in part because no one knows yet whether there’ll be a way to get from your car to the game.

On the bright side, the Braves are likely to be terrible for the foreseeable future, so it’s not like anybody’s going to be clamoring to actually get to the games. Does the Galleria parking lot have WiFi?

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17 comments on “Cursed Braves pedestrian bridge delayed at least one year, maybe forever

  1. ‘“Make no mistake, I am not rethinking the idea of the bridge,” which is the kind of thing one usually says when one is rethinking the idea of the bridge.’

    Strictly speaking, if he’s simply abandoned the idea of the bridge he wouldn’t be rethinking it either.

  2. This is interesting. It isn’t all that surprising to me, however.

    I guess if we start with the assumption that this item was overlooked it might seem dumb. But I have my doubts it was overlooked… I think it was intentionally ignored as a negotiating tactic.

    Why add an issue up front that could muddy the waters about the whole project when you can ignore it until later in the hope that a tremendous groundswell of public support (or outrage) will build and make your negotiating position with the neglected party stronger?

    Let the taxpayers, who have already been crooked into paying for this thing, do your dirty work with the land owner for you.

    Personally, I hope Childress Klein gives the wheel/table a spin on this one and just says “your lack of forethought and devious nature hasn’t improved your position as you thought it would”.

    Or maybe “The price hasn’t gone down due to public pressure. It’s gone up now that you’ve committed to building on the site you don’t have patron access to”.

  3. I agree with John, and it’s essentially what I was about to say myself.

    They knew this would come up later as an issue “they” had to handle. This is a way to force the cost of “public infrastructure” onto the taxpayers. Step 1: Create the need for a bridge. Step 2: Claim the public will own the bridge, so why should the sports facility owner pay for any part of it?

    We kind of did the same thing in Sacramento. Built an arena in North Natomas that had truly horrible access, then the City came along later and paid for major interchanges that “we were going to need anyway.”

    And now we’re abandoning practically new interchanges. They’re way overbuilt now. And we’re still paying for them.

  4. Is it too early/late in the cycle for the braves to get funding to stay at Turner Field? It would break some impressive new ground if they could move out of the new stadium before they ever played in it.

  5. @David Gratt – Honestly parking isn’t much better at Turner Field either. So damned if you do damned if you don’t.

  6. @jmauro not that Braves fans would employ them, but aren’t there other transportation options for getting to Turner Field? Parking is only an issue for those that are driving, and for the new stadium, that seems like everyone, unless I missed something.

  7. Come on guys, this just screams “EMINENT DOMAIN!”. No matter how unrealistic, it will be uttered by someone. Embrace the irony, dammit.

  8. Cujo:

    That was my thought. Anyone with a legal background know if there are any additional issues with air rights?

  9. Regarding:
    “And Childress Klein might hold not one, but two trump cards when it comes to the bridge.”, shouldn’t trump be capitalized?

  10. @jmauro – Was at Turner Field last night: took MARTA to West End, then the Braves Shuttle bus for a 1.5 mile trip to the stadium gates. It was very easy. And there are a few thousand parking spots if you insist on fighting downtown traffic. The new stadium won’t have MARTA or parking, so your comment is ridiculous.

  11. Commissioner Lee and Cobb DOT Director Faye DiMassimo have both openly stated that local SPLOST money will be used to pay – in part – for the bridge. We’re talking about millions of additional dollars. This after Lee had previously stated that no additional local tax dollars would be used to build the bridge (beyond what has already been committed for stadium construction), nor was the bridge included on the list of projects when the SPLOST was approved by voters last year. It would serve Tim Lee right to have this idiotic bridge project go up in flames because his business buddies won’t play along. We taxpayers haven’t had much of a choice. Cannot wait until he runs for re-election.

  12. Yes, and?

    Reading the quotes in the MDJ, it sounded like members of the authority were having misgivings over the bridge because it might interfere with normal business operations of the Galleria. My inference (and it might be totally wrong) was that was really them relaying the ‘concerns’ of Childress Klien. Basically, CK were saying, “Like hell you are.”

    So the public comments could either be them just playing messenger, or the authority sending up a trial ballon to see public reaction. It’s the latter which made me think that eminent domain might be an option they were considering (and not the county trying to exercise authority they probably don’t have).

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