Turner Field Area Businesses Eager to See What’s Next
While the Atlanta Braves had to make a financial decision for their future, surrounding businesses were left underway; which turned out to be a ‘win win’ situation for everybody except for Sandy Springs.
After the 2016 season, the Atlanta Braves 20-year lease with the Atlanta Fulton County Recreational Authority will expire. Braves executives John Schuerholz, Mike Plant and Derek Schiller announced in 2013 that they would be leaving Turner Field located in Fulton County and moving to a ballpark in Cobb County.
Businesses in the surrounding Atlanta communities of Summerhill and Mechanicsville are eager to say farewell to the Braves, but the Braves are not receiving a warm welcome from surrounding neighborhoods in Cobb County.
The subject of Braves traffic heading to SunTrust Park made the news once again last week when a plan was released on how Cobb County was going to deal with increased ballpark traffic. According to the Reporter newspaper, Sandy Springs is not pleased with the county’s plan to encourage fans to use streets in Sandy Springs instead of Interstate 285 to get to the park because of the amount of traffic that it would cause.
CNN reported that Braves executives said the decision to leave Turner Field was based on several factors, including $150 million needed to replace seats and pay for other upgrades as well as another $200 million to improve the fan experience.
Overall the team cited a lack of mass transit options in the area, too few parking spaces and limited freeway access. They will leave Turner Field for a new $42,000-seat, $672 million stadium about 10 miles from downtown Atlanta.
Surrounding businesses of Turner Field expressed that with the leaving of Turner Field they will not have as many parking issues.
“If what is now just been utilized as parking lot since 1960 for the Braves and the Falcons become livable residents and viable businesses and traffic flow increases, that’s only going to benefit us,” said Richard Dunn, co-owner of Tom, Dick and Hank restaurant. He explained that as a business, Tom, Dick and Hank did not really benefit from the Braves being at Turner Field.
“It’s definitely welcoming [Braves being at Turner], however, because ticket sales aren’t that great, we only get that influx really when they are playing a big market team and ticket sales are closer sold out than not,” Dunn said.
Turner Field would be demolished when the Braves leave in 2017, making way for a new large-scale development with Georgia State University and its development partners.
Sixty-seven-acres will be transferred into a southern expansion of Georgia State’s campus. The ballpark will be converted into an arena for Georgia State Panthers football and a new mixed-use community.
In May 2014, the Georgia State team unveiled to the editorial board of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution a $300 million project that included converting Turner Field into a football stadium, student housing, apartments and retail in a corner of downtown long cut off from the rest of the city by interstates.
“I’m optimistic that Georgia State is coming into this space of Turner Field. It will have a positive impact on our business as well as the neighborhood. Their growth on the other side of the bridge in terms of what I seen happen on Edgewood and what happened on Auburn Avenue seems to be great,” said Dunn. “Right now I feel like we are operating on an island and we are a destination spot. But if we are apart of a vibrant lively neighborhood then that’s more impactful than the braves staying and only being impactful 80 days out of the year.”