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Major League Baseball issues a statement on the Braves surprise new stadium

Nov 11, 2013, 3:03 PM EDT

Bud Selig Getty Images

What, you were expecting Bud Selig — a guy who was able to get to where he is because the Braves skipped his town back  in the mid-60s — to pan the idea of a taxpayer-funded ballpark designed to further enrich baseball owners?

“The Braves have kept us apprised of their stadium situation throughout this process.  Major League Baseball fully supports their decision to move to a new ballpark in Atlanta for the 2017 season, and we look forward to their continued excellence representing their community, both on and off the field.”

Note the “in Atlanta.” The Braves are pushing that angle too, making it clear on their site that they aren’t leaving Atlanta. Which, regionally speaking, no, they’re not, but they won’t be in the city anymore. And what is left will be a large, basically new but utterly useless stadium which taxpayers will continue to maintain until it is prematurely wrecked.

  1. chip56 - Nov 11, 2013 at 3:14 PM

    Craig,

    If you get a good deal on a car lease do you keep the car when your lease is up and a better car is available to you because you feel some sort of obligation to the company that gave you that first lease?

    If the Braves are able to get a stadium that offers more suitable seating arrangement, a retractable roof so that people can actually go to a Braves’ game in the summer without keeling over from the heat and maybe a touch of personality then this deal was a no-brainer.

    They didn’t violate a single thing legally or ethically. And if the taxpayers in Atlanta are upset with this then that’s the way the cookie crumbles.

    • stex52 - Nov 11, 2013 at 3:17 PM

      I don’t think Craig said anything different. His issue was with the funding.

      • chip56 - Nov 11, 2013 at 3:28 PM

        Public funding does not guarantee the municipality that built the stadium that the team will stay their in perpetuity. The Braves and Atlanta made a deal, “build the stadium we will sign a lease that runs through 2016.” Both sides have lived up to that lease and now the Braves are signing a new lease somewhere else. No one is getting screwed on this deal.

        My hope is that Atlanta finds something good to do with that space much like New York did with the area that used to be allocated for Yankee Stadium (lots of parks to promote sports for local kids).

      • gloccamorra - Nov 11, 2013 at 5:44 PM

        chip56: OLD Yankee Stadium became parks and ball fields because NEW Yankee Stadium was built on pre-existing parks and ball fields. New Yorkers got nothing extra they didn’t already have, except newer facilities.

    • clydeserra - Nov 11, 2013 at 8:53 PM

      wait. People need to have a dome to watch a baseball game?

      This is madness, right?

      • nolanwiffle - Nov 12, 2013 at 8:55 AM

        Evidently it’s hotter in summer than other times of the year. Who knew?

      • chip56 - Nov 13, 2013 at 3:23 PM

        Don’t need to, but if given the choice between sweating my ass off to watch the Braves play the Padres in mid august or watching the game from the comfort of my air conditioned living room or a bar I’m going to pick the cooler option.

  2. proudlycanadian - Nov 11, 2013 at 3:16 PM

    Did Bud talk about the possibility that the Braves will also change their Logo? SI.com speculates that a complete change, omitting all native American references might just be in the works.

    • gloccamorra - Nov 11, 2013 at 5:47 PM

      Why would they do that? There’s no negative connotation to “Braves”, it’s not like “Redskins”. Once they got rid of Chief Nokahoma, the Braves aren’t disparaging of Native Americans. Neither is “Indians”, though Chief Wahoo has got to go.

      • nbjays - Nov 11, 2013 at 9:07 PM

        That stupid annoying tomahawk chop tells me otherwise. No Native American stereotype there…

        /s

      • gloccamorra - Nov 12, 2013 at 7:50 PM

        The tomahawk chop is by the fans, not the club. You can’t blame the team for boos, beer spills or beach balls either.

  3. johnnysoda - Nov 11, 2013 at 3:17 PM

    I just find it odd that they’re leaving their perfectly good stadium after only 19 seasons. For comparison’s sake, the Phillies were at the Vet for 32 years. The Mets were at Shea for 44 years. The Nationals played at Olympic Stadium in Montreal for 27 years. The Marlins…well, they only spent 18 years at the Dolphin’s stadium, but it was totally inadequate and they spent their whole history there up to that point.

    • chip56 - Nov 11, 2013 at 4:05 PM

      If someone’s willing to offer you a brand new stadium that could increase your organization’s revenue streams then you would be silly not to take the offer.

    • gloccamorra - Nov 11, 2013 at 6:03 PM

      As Craig points out, the stadium was built for the Olympics, not for baseball, and modified for the Braves. There are amenities being added in newer baseball parks, and older parks/stadia keep falling behind. For instance, Petco Park opened in 2004, and two years later, a newer type of scoreboard was introduced that made the Petco scoreboard obsolete.

      Since Turner Field wasn’t built for baseball, there’s a shortage of amenities like private boxes, group seating and restaurants/bars that add up to more revenue for the team without having to raise ticket prices for $100 million pitchers and $300 million second basemen. Chances are the new ballpark lease will give the Braves a greater share of the revenue the team generates than Turner field, among them naming rights.

      • clydeserra - Nov 11, 2013 at 8:55 PM

        you mean, the braves got a killer deal on constructing a brand new stadium by partnering with the olympic games.

        Its not a converted stadium. It was built for teh braves to eventually occupy.

    • billybawl - Nov 11, 2013 at 9:52 PM

      Miami Heat played at their original arena for about 10 years. It was new in 1988, but I think imploded a few years ago.

      We talk about the revolution in stadiums since Camden Yards as some nostalgia revival, but it’s really about owners recognizing and exploiting all the revenue to be extracted from stadiums.

      • gloccamorra - Nov 12, 2013 at 7:55 PM

        Better to get the revenue from high rollers in private boxes and naming rights than price out the fans. I saw my first game at Fenway Park, in a box seat behind the Red Sox dugout, on the aisle, for $4. Adjusted for inflation that’s $29.73. The Red Sox charged $119 for that seat last year.

  4. cohnjusack - Nov 11, 2013 at 3:23 PM

    From homeofthebraves.com

    “How will the stadium be funded?

    Working with Cobb County, this will be a public-private partnership to build the new stadium. Though the details have yet to be finalized, the Braves will be a significant investor in the project

    I like how that last line was thrown in as though the Braves are doing something really special by investing in their own fucking stadium.

  5. scatterbrian - Nov 11, 2013 at 3:23 PM

    Don’t the Giants have some territorial rights over northern Atlanta?

    • joelgold - Nov 11, 2013 at 6:34 PM

      After being defeated repeated at the ballot box, the Giants paid for their stadium and have prospered. Surprised taxpayer funds are still spent for these sorts of things.

      • gloccamorra - Nov 11, 2013 at 8:04 PM

        After being repeatedly rebuffed in its demand for a publicly funded stadium, the NFL still doesn’t have a football team in the nation’s second largest city. It works both ways.

  6. cohnjusack - Nov 11, 2013 at 3:28 PM

    From homeofthebraves.com

    “How will the stadium be funded?

    Working with Cobb County, this will be a public-private partnership to build the new stadium. Though the details have yet to be finalized, the Braves will be a significant investor in the project

    I like how that last line was thrown in as though the Braves are doing something really special by investing in their own stadium.

    • proudlycanadian - Nov 11, 2013 at 3:38 PM

      Are the taxpayers on board with this proposal? Will the Tea Party types express outrage over this use of taxpayers money?

      • Francisco (FC) - Nov 11, 2013 at 3:44 PM

        Probably not, since opposing baseball in UN-american!

      • skids003 - Nov 11, 2013 at 3:52 PM

        It looks like it’s already been taken care of. It’s probably better to use some taxpayer money for stuff like this than to set up a website for health care that’ll never work.

      • stex52 - Nov 11, 2013 at 3:54 PM

        Even better not to invest in it in the first place. As the conservatives would say, aren’t you picking winners and losers?

      • skids003 - Nov 11, 2013 at 3:57 PM

        Well, actually, the stadium and team can generate revenue for the area it’s in, it actually generates positive income. The health care never will.

      • stex52 - Nov 11, 2013 at 5:07 PM

        So we should use public funds to give to private corporations of our choosing, as long as they return revenue?

        Sounds like socialism to me.

      • gloccamorra - Nov 11, 2013 at 7:29 PM

        The county had to identify a revenue source to pay back the bonds, probably their share of the state sales tax, or hotel/motel room tax. They may as well obligate it for the bonds before the state takes the revenue from them, like they do in California.

      • clydeserra - Nov 11, 2013 at 9:04 PM

        skids, here is the thing, multiple studies show that major public investment ini stadiums is a losing proposition,in contrast, even the half assed health care system voted into law a few years ago, multiple studies show, will save tax payers money.

        so, you are wrong. on both counts.

        You are also wrong that bunting increases your scoring opportunities. (just a guess)

  7. tfbuckfutter - Nov 11, 2013 at 3:42 PM

    If Cobb doesn’t want to pay to fund the stadium some other county will.

    And that county may not be in Georgia at all.

    It is a crummy system, to be sure, but it’s also a matter of supply and demand.

    Cities see the economic benefit of having the team there. That is why they help enrich (read: bribe) the owners. To keep them from selling their services elsewhere.

  8. umrguy42 - Nov 11, 2013 at 3:44 PM

    “And what is left will be a large, basically new but utterly useless stadium which taxpayers will continue to maintain until it is prematurely wrecked.”

    Being as it was built for the Olympics, wouldn’t Atlanta have been kinda stuck anyway? At least they’ll have had ~20 years of rent out of it. Basically, the Braves wanted a new park, Atlanta wanted the Olympics, presumably the Braves said “sure, you make the stadium so that it becomes a baseball field after, we’ll lease it for 20 years” to help ease the fact that there’s not a lot you can do with a giant track and field location when the football team has its own dome already, skids were greased, people were happy, and now, oh, 20 years is up, the place needs a boatload of $ to renovate that nobody’s gonna want to pay, so the Braves want their own place that they control.

    Also, to be fair, looks like taxpayers were only on the hook for ~$40 million of the original construction cost, plus presumably the conversion cost. (I’m assuming that all of the money from the Atlanta Olympic group eventually came from the taxpayers. I could be wrong.) NBC and other Olympic sponsors ponied up quite a bit of it, per wikipedia.

    • umrguy42 - Nov 11, 2013 at 3:51 PM

      …That middle paragraph kinda ran on for a bit. Sorry ’bout that. :D

  9. larrytsg - Nov 11, 2013 at 3:46 PM

    What’s the record for shortest time in a stadium that was built for a team? 19 years seems like a pretty short time, but then I live in Boston and the sox have been in Fenway for 101 years and counting…. though they did float plans for a new stadium in the Fenway neighborhood back in the 1990s.

    • adventuresinfresno - Nov 11, 2013 at 3:53 PM

      The Philadelphia A’s were at Columbia Park for about 8 years or so, in the early 20th century.

  10. Old Gator - Nov 11, 2013 at 4:02 PM

    As a resident of Macondo, I take a special delight in the way whichever public official or officials were responsible for the Braves’ lease made it possible for them to escape so soon, so easily, and leave the community holding the bag. I feel less alone now.

    • gloccamorra - Nov 11, 2013 at 7:41 PM

      The original Olympic stadium was built with private money. Converting it to baseball shouldn’t have cost that much, and was probably recovered with the 20 year lease. The City owns the stadium and parking lot and can put it up for bid to developers. What’s a 30-40 acre parcel of land with freeway access in south downtown Atlanta worth these days?

  11. ramblingalb - Nov 11, 2013 at 4:30 PM

    The Braves are leaving their stadium after their lease is up for a deal that’s better for them.

    You’d have to be well off the beaten path of common sense to find anything wrong with that.

    • gloccamorra - Nov 12, 2013 at 8:06 PM

      You don’t understand. Yes, baseball is a business but it’s also a sport, a game, a public trust. It involves issues like civic pride, loyalty, taxes, government finances, picking winners and losers, emotional attachment, childhood memories, maybe even feelings of sexual inadequacy. There’s no room for common sense in there.

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