Turner Field residents wary of GSU project

ATLANTA-- It was quite an announcement. Instead of losing Turner Field once the Braves leave, Georgia State University wants to rebuild it into a college football stadium. And it wants to build a college baseball stadium across the street where Atlanta Fulton County stadium used to be.

"How about that!" laughed Eugene James, a Summerhill resident. "Not one but two" stadiums, he said ruefully.

James says once the Braves vacate Turner Field, he and his neighbors envision a more traditional residential neighborhood taking shape.

"For our community, I think we're done with stadiums and sport complexes. I think it's time to move on to something else," James said.

11Alive News spoke with other residents who expressed similar sentiments, but declined to speak on the record. Neighborhood association president Suzanne Mitchell declined comment on the GSU project.

Mayor Kasim Reed says he's gotten four offers for the Turner Field tract. Aside from the GSU offer, he says an alternative offer has come from a developer who has offered to buy the 77 acres outright for 45 to 65 million dollars -- with development plans still unspecified.

Reed declined to specify the other two offers. But he says the GSU project is the one he likes.

"What people will see is that by having a leading university in their community, and looking out their windows and seeing young women and young men matriculate at college is definitely a healthier view than looking at a stadium and a series of parking lots," Reed said. He added that there are many details of the GSU deal still to work out.

James says it's too soon to back one proposal. "I'd like for us all to sit down and really think through the possibilities and make sure we get this thing right," James said. "Not just throw up an idea and say 'all right, we're gonna go for it.'"

One reason it's not a done deal is because the property isn't even for sale yet. The Braves play there through the 2016 season and could stay longer if their stadium project in Cobb County is delayed.

If it happens, the project is expected to cost some $300 million, but GSU officials say they'd only be involved in about 30 percent of the site, and by extension, only 30 percent of the costs -- right around $100 million. School leaders say about $100 million would likely come from both the state and private donors in the form of cash and loans.


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