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Atlanta Braves moving to Cobb County in 2017

1:41 AM, Nov 12, 2013   |    comments
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ATLANTA -- The Atlanta Braves announced Monday morning that they plan to move to a brand new stadium in Cobb County for the beginning of the 2017 baseball season.

The Braves say they plan to build a new stadium on the northwest corner of the Interstate 75-285 interchange in Cobb County.

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"We are excited to announce plans to build a world-class stadium, which will open in 2017 at the NW intersection of I-75/I-285," the team said in tweets. "We have secured a large tract of property at this location & will work to build a world-class ballpark for our fans."

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The team says they plan to leave Turner Field after their 20 year agreement expires at the end of the 2016 season.

"The Braves' lease at Turner Field expires at the end of 2016, and we needed to find a long-term solution that ensured the Braves would remain in Atlanta for another generation. Turner Field needs $150 million in infrastructure work alone (replacing the seats, repairing and upgrading lighting, etc.), none of which would significantly enhance the fan experience," the team said on their new "Home of the Braves" website, which details information about the new ballpark.

The team says in a release that since 1997, the Braves have invested nearly $125 million in Turner Field. They said that even with a significant capital investment in Turner Field, several insurmountable issues still exist -- the lack of mass transit, lack of adequate parking, lack of access to major roadways and a lack of control over development of the surrounding area.

In a release, the team says the estimated cost of the new stadium, parking and related infrastructure is roughly $672 million. The Braves say they will be a "significant investor" along with Cobb County.

On the Home of the Braves website, the team addresses the question of what will happen to Turner Field by saying, "Turner Field was given to the City of Atlanta following the 1996 Olympics. The Braves do not own or manage the facility and our lease expires in 2016. That being said, the organization has invested nearly $125 million into the facility for maintenance and improvements. The City of Atlanta and the Atlanta-Fulton County Recreation Authority will make the final decision on what to do with the property after the team moves."

Cobb County Commission Chairman Tim Lee says the county is happy to see the team move in that direction.

"The Atlanta Braves are a great organization and will be a welcome addition to Cobb County. Our focus is on finalizing an agreement that will bring jobs and economic growth to the area while enhancing the experience of sports fans from across metro Atlanta," Lee said in a statement. "Atlanta has evolved over the years into a broader community that offers so much for so many. Cobb County is proud to be a part of the region's continued success."

When asked about the project by 11Alive's Paul Crawley, Lee said the project was very secretive, saying that only a handful of people in Cobb County knew about it in advance. He said he had been initially approached by the Braves last July, when team officials invited him to lunch.

As far as the breakdown of what the county would be responsible for in terms of construction costs, Lee said information would be released over the next few days, likely by the end of this week in that regard. Crawley asked Lee about a possible hotel-motel tax for Cobb County properties to help pay for the stadium, Lee said that all options were being explored.

Lee said there would be a pedestrian bridge built across busy Interstate 285 to connect the Cobb Galleria area to the stadium, and that additional transportation projects were in the works for the area. He said a connection to the Cobb Community Transit hub behind Cumberland Mall would be explored also.

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed was disappointed by the news.

"The Atlanta Braves are one of the best baseball teams in America, and I wish them well. 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. It is my understanding that our neighbor, Cobb County, made a strong offer of $450 million in public support to the Braves and we are simply unwilling to match that with taxpayer dollars. Given the needs facing our city and the impact of Turner Field stadium on surrounding neighborhoods, that was something I, and many others were unwilling to do. We have been planning for the possibility of this announcement and have already spoken to multiple organizations who are interested in redeveloping the entire Turner Field corridor. Over the next three years, we will be working with our prospective partners to bring residential and business development that is worthy of our city and strengthens our downtown. Those conversations will continue and I am excited about how we use the land that is now Turner Field, to be a tremendous asset for our residents, our city, and our region for years to come," Reed said in a statement released Monday.

Reed's office says Mayor Reed will hold a news conference to discuss the Braves' plans Tuesday morning at 10:30. 11Alive.com will stream live coverage of the mayor's remarks.

The Braves say the new stadium will be part of an integrated mixed-use community that includes parking, green space and a world-class entertainment district featuring retail, restaurants and hotel options.

Plans call for the new stadium to be owned by the Cobb-Marietta Coliseum and Exhibit Hall Authority, which also owns the Cobb Galleria Centre and Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre.

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