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The Braves new stadium is great for other teams: it creates a credible threat

Nov 13, 2013, 10:30 AM EDT

Turner Field

Field of Schemes’ Neil deMause — writing today for Sports on Earth — makes a great point in his column about the Braves new stadium today. It’s a boon for the owners of other teams looking to shake down their cities for upgrades, concessions, and lease improvements:

Ever since the Montreal Expos occupied Washington, D.C., in 2005, MLB teams have lacked a big, empty market to frighten local officials with, as the NFL has successfully done with Los Angeles . . . Now, though, teams can gesture vaguely in the direction of Atlanta, or just show up to lease talks carrying one of those foam tomahawks, and everyone will get the message: Make us happy or we’ll split for the suburbs.

Most teams have new stadiums now, and it was unthinkable that anyone would leave a new stadium as recently as Monday morning. Now it’s not. Someone has shown a willingness to abandon one. Don’t think for a second that, when it comes time for other teams to get stuff from their home cities, they won’t make subtle or not-so-subtle references to the Atlanta move as a means of gaining leverage.

  1. The Dangerous Mabry - Nov 13, 2013 at 10:47 AM

    This still seems like 100% upside for the cities, though. If a team moves to the suburbs, they still retain the name of the city (Cobb County Braves ain’t gonna happen), so the city retains the “prestige” of having a team. Ballgame traffic is now taken out of the city, so congestion is less of an issue. And they reclaim a piece of prime real estate which can be used for something that actually drives revenue and/or culture within the city.

    What do they lose? I guess if they have some kind of city income tax, they’d lose that revenue from the players, but that really seems like the extent of it.

    • cohnjusack - Nov 13, 2013 at 10:53 AM

      Also a plus, most of the damn stadium land is given out tax-free nowadays, very few cities even have a city income tax. Not to mention that the stadium does nothing to actually spur economic development and in many case can even hurt it, the best response for a city is “have fun in your new home!”

    • scoutsaysweitersisabust - Nov 13, 2013 at 11:11 AM

      Well, the city is left with a giant ballpark that is almost completely unusable. They are left continuing to pay the bills for said ballpark. They are left with the bills to demolish said ballpark, which they are still paying for, which is completely unusable.

      Oh, and they get to pay for a second brand new ballpark. All so that billionaires can profit off the sweat of the working man. But that’s no problem, because now all the benefits to the local economy will be moved out of city limits. Hotels will go empty. Restaurants will be left uneaten in. Taxis will be rendered useless. But that’s OK, because traffic patterns in the suburbs are SO much better equipped to handle 35-40 thousand people a night, what with all the public transportation and parking and highway availability.

      • mattdaddy7 - Nov 13, 2013 at 12:32 PM

        no worries, Atlanta never draws 35,000-40,000 people a night anyway…

      • atlantadawg - Nov 13, 2013 at 1:31 PM

        way to make a blanket statement about a situation you obviously have no clue about. The city is not being left with anything. the Stadium is bought and paid for because of the Olympics. NBC and other sponsors helped pick up the tab on most of the cost and the city and Braves paid the rest. so you can throw that argument out of the window. The city has already announced they are going to tear down the stadium and put in a “middle-class” development in its place. the new stadium is being built 10 miles from the old one so those hotels that were booked for Turner Field, will still be booked for the new stadium because there are only 2 hotels that are actually within 2-5 miles from the stadium that are safe enough to stay in. The city will lose out on revenue, but that is 100% on them because they failed to make any compromise with its tenant, the Atlanta Braves. The Braves signed a lease and they honored their lease. The city of Atlanta chose to do whatever it could to build the Falcons a new stadium. the Braves just wanted improvement to the area and additional parking and the City chose the Falcons. So the Braves had to make the better decision for them to survive. moving will be financially beneficial for them, and in the end of it all, its about money. They aren’t a nonprofit organization and need more revenue to compete. Next time you want to rip on something, know what you are talking about.

      • clydeserra - Nov 13, 2013 at 2:45 PM

        so, its the atlanta way to spend millions of dollars, then once all the money spent has been recouped, you throw it away? how fiscally responsible!

        as for the stadium, somewhere in fulton county, a new landfill will have to open with all the remnants of the old stadium.

  2. whacko4flacco - Nov 13, 2013 at 11:00 AM

    It’s hilarious that all the talk during the boon of these ballparks was having one centrally located downtown. Now it’s the exact opposite less than 20 years later.

    • iamchris81 - Nov 13, 2013 at 11:13 AM

      And in 20 years we’re going to be talking about the need for downtown centric stadiums to spur development. What a tangled web we weave.

    • gloccamorra - Nov 14, 2013 at 12:38 AM

      It takes that long for people to forget about the traffic and parking problems. The NFL is now pushing for downtown stadiums, but they want the teams to own a piece of them. It sounds like a real estate deal to me.

  3. irishphilly87 - Nov 13, 2013 at 11:13 AM

    Craig you love to bash Philly and it’s fans… how bout I bash Atlanta and theyre lack of fans…how ridiculous and ludacris is it that Atlanta whose a college football town builds the Braves and Falcons new stadiums… thats the biggest joke since Miami agreed to build the Marlins a stadium. Atlanta was in the World Series in the 90′s against the New York Yankees, with Maddux, Glavine and Smoltz…and even that couldnt get a sellout crowd…. Atlanta what a terrible sports town…. Hey Craig… at least Philly supports there teams, and we are a passionate fan base.

    • aphillieated - Nov 13, 2013 at 11:35 AM

      The only good thing about ATL is……………nothing!

    • irishphilly87 - Nov 13, 2013 at 11:42 AM

      What you people dont like facts? Go look up the Braves/Yanks World Series and see if they sold out, a sports broadcaster just said yesterday on 11/12/2013 that he was working in Atlanta for the Braves and they were in the Series vs the Yanks, and he made a couple phone calls asking if it were possible to get his dad tickets and the guy chuckled and said ummm that shouldnt be a problem sir. Yeah, not a problem because Atlanta is a terrible sports town. Stick to the Bulldogs and Yellow Jackets chatter. And i love all the hate against Philly and its teams…. God forbid we arent the nation’s 1st capitaol or anything… or the birth of the country and independence didnt start thru Philadelphia or nothing… All the Philly hateres love to hate, think we have bad things…gimme a break Boston, New York are just as tough on there teams… you have Kansas City cheering when there qb was injured last year. Houston making burgers called Pick 6 after there qb…. LA stabbing people, the Bay area always having gangs at there games….but it all comes back to Philly throwing snowballs at Santa Clause in the 60′s…a drunken embarassing Santa for that matter….. and oh no we cheered Michael Irvin injured on the ground…. Michael Irvin himself has come out and said he loves Philly fans, but the rest of the country seems to love to hate.. Keep hating, we love it.

      • joshfrancis50 - Nov 13, 2013 at 11:47 AM

        LOUD NOISES!

      • aphillieated - Nov 13, 2013 at 12:01 PM

        1 Philly fan vomits on a little girl and now we all vomit on little girls lol wtf

      • thatstinks - Nov 13, 2013 at 3:24 PM

        My problem with Philly has always been linked to Rocky 4 . I just remember that stupid scene with Paulie and that robot .

    • detectivejimmymcnulty - Nov 13, 2013 at 12:33 PM

      Is Atlanta really a college football town? Athens is 73 miles away from Atlanta and Georgia Tech isn’t exactly a powerhouse. Atlanta isn’t building the new Braves stadium from what I understand (which is why this article was written) and Blank is actually forking over a good part of the Falcons’ new stadium costs with the around $200 million the city is paying coming from hotel taxes.

      • Kevin S. - Nov 13, 2013 at 1:25 PM

        Atlanta’s rooting interests go something in the order of:

        1) Georgia Bulldogs
        2) Atlanta Falcons
        3) Every other SEC team
        4) Whatever teams people rooted for before they moved there
        5) Atlanta Braves
        6) Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets

        12) Atlanta Hawks

      • frug - Nov 13, 2013 at 5:28 PM

        Atlanta is definitely a college football town

        http://thequad.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/09/19/the-geography-of-college-football-fans-and-realignment-chaos/?_r=0

        As the first chart shows*, Atlanta has by far the highest % of CFB fans of any of the country’s megacities and it isn’t especially close.

        *Yes, I’m aware the methodology isn’t perfect, but is good enough for our current purposes.

    • 18thstreet - Nov 13, 2013 at 3:31 PM

      I’m pretty sure second graders know the difference between their, they’re, and there.

      • gloccamorra - Nov 14, 2013 at 12:41 AM

        And that’s why the Braves are leaving Atlanta: there’s no their there.

  4. aphillieated - Nov 13, 2013 at 11:29 AM

    1st place Braves attendance this year: 2,548,679
    4th place Phillies attendance this year: 3,012,403

    F**k you, Craig!

    With love, Philadelphia

    xoxo

  5. ck101 - Nov 13, 2013 at 11:45 AM

    I would put nothing past any team in its attempts to get other people to build them a stadium . . . but how viable will the Atlanta threat be in light of the Braves’ existing territorial rights? If that issue can’t be worked out in the Bay Area, which already has two existing teams, I find it hard to see how any proposed move to Atlanta would really work in the way the vacant dome in Tampa was used by numerous teams back in the 1980s and early 1990s to obtain stadium financing by blackmailing their existing cities.

    • asimonetti88 - Nov 13, 2013 at 1:17 PM

      Did you read the article? He’s not suggesting a team will threaten to move to Atlanta. They are demolishing the stadium after the Braves move anyway.

  6. realgone2 - Nov 13, 2013 at 11:46 AM

    Craig says he’s a Braves but all I ever see him do is bash the team. He despises the fan base, the players, the owners, even the freaking name and logos. I think he’s just a fan for page hits really. As far as the stadium goes. Who can blame the team? They are RENTERS. If my lease was up and the landlord refused to make repairs I’d leave too. Oh and the Phillies won’t touch another division title until the Braves move back to downtown Atlanta.

    • aphillieated - Nov 13, 2013 at 12:04 PM

      We will rise again! Like the Sun in the morning. Like your pen*s when you’re horny. Like your…….I’m done.

  7. ck101 - Nov 13, 2013 at 11:47 AM

    Never mind – I misread Craig’s post as proposing a second team in Atlanta when that isn’t at all what he said.

  8. schlom - Nov 13, 2013 at 12:11 PM

    deMause’s point seems to be a bit of a reach to me – how many teams angling for a new stadium have viable suburbs to move to? Oakland has tried and has been unable to, same with Tampa Bay.

    • raysfan1 - Nov 13, 2013 at 12:40 PM

      Tampa Bay is still locked into its lease until 2028; Atlanta’s is up in 2016.

    • jwbiii - Nov 13, 2013 at 1:25 PM

      The 49ers will be moving into their new stadium in Santa Clara next season. Are any teams besides the Rays and A’s griping about their facilities? The Dodgers and Cubs have upgrades planned or in progress for their current stadiums. Are there others?

      • 18thstreet - Nov 13, 2013 at 3:38 PM

        It really makes more sense for football teams to be located in the suburbs. Distant suburbs, for that matter. I mean, I say this as a guy who hates football, so maybe I’m biased. But I’m mostly thinking about the fact that a football team only has 8 or 10 home games a year. (Plus, football stadiums seat about twice as many fans as baseball stadiums do — the stadium footprint is a bigger.) That’s a lot of time for a lot of valuable land to go unused, especially since football has a tailgating culture that requires a TON of parking.

        I can’t see why any city would want a football stadium within its borders. Well, I can’t see any economic reason anyway.

      • gloccamorra - Nov 14, 2013 at 12:50 AM

        El Paso is abandoning its longtime minor league stadium for one downtown to house their Snarling Chihuahuas.

    • billybawl - Nov 13, 2013 at 1:33 PM

      Oakland has viable suburbs, but the most attractive one – San Jose – is locked up by the Giants.

      • nategearhart - Nov 13, 2013 at 1:45 PM

        San Jose is not a suburb.

  9. jm91rs - Nov 13, 2013 at 12:13 PM

    Not sure if other stadiums have similar deals, but the Reds have a deal with Hamilton County for Great American Ballpark that helps them every time a new stadium is built. They have some sort of Technology clause, if a certain percentage of stadiums get some new technology the Reds have the right to demand that the county buy it for them. HD scoreboards were the most recent upgrade (although the Reds did the right thing and footed some of the bill, given that the county has no funds to pay for anything).

    Every time a new stadium is built it will be another stadium with all the latest technology, so the Reds are that much closer to having more cool and expensive tech.

    • gloccamorra - Nov 14, 2013 at 1:00 AM

      The problem with that is that some tech is way too expensive to retrofit into an existing structure. I’m sure eventually the high roller sections will get vibrating seats or foot massagers in new ballparks. Even the low tech stuff like seats with built-in urinals so you don’t have to get up and miss the action will cost a bundle to put in later.

  10. kane337 - Nov 13, 2013 at 12:35 PM

    Can’t wait for the new Braves stadium to open. It’s gonna be beautiful

    • aphillieated - Nov 13, 2013 at 12:49 PM

      and empty

  11. psunick - Nov 13, 2013 at 12:35 PM

    Schlom…you are absolutely correct! Nobody out here takes any threat from Oakland seriously at all.

  12. mrpinkca - Nov 13, 2013 at 1:06 PM

    Is this a credible threat? If the Giants aren’t willing to let go of San Jose why would the Atlanta Braves give up Atlanta? Also, the Braves have been one of the most successful teams in the last two decades and still struggled to sell out the building. Would a new team be able to draw?

    I should hope that most cities would be able to call that bluff.

    • asimonetti88 - Nov 13, 2013 at 1:31 PM

      Read the article, no one is suggesting another team move to Atlanta.

    • nategearhart - Nov 13, 2013 at 1:39 PM

      You didn’t read the article.

  13. billybawl - Nov 13, 2013 at 1:42 PM

    So Atlanta got a piss-poor lease from the Braves for Turner Field. Turner Field was originally built for the Olympics. Maybe that factored into the lease, and it certainly has to be taken into consideration when arguing whether the deal was good for taxpayers — it’s not all about the Braves. Is it accurate to draw lessons from this example for other MLB teams? Maybe, but I think it’s more complicated.

  14. bisonaudit - Nov 13, 2013 at 1:55 PM

    If the geographic size of local government entities fit the 21st century instead of the 18th this wouldn’t be an issue because the Braves wouldn’t have anyone extract a subsidy from.

  15. chip56 - Nov 13, 2013 at 3:31 PM

    The other day when Craig said he wasn’t going to harp on the Jack Morris Hall of Fame debate anymore I thought “great…that’s awesome.” Had I known it would be replaced with column after column of bitching and moaning that MLB teams and politicians are using and abusing taxpayers with public stadium funding, I would have said that I prefer the Jack Morris debate.

    Once again, for those who lack common understanding of contracts – Atlanta and the Braves organization had an agreement, the city would help fund Turner Field and the Braves would play there through the 2016 season. Both sides are living up to their ends of the deal, another municipality in the region wants to build the Braves a shiny new stadium – likely believing that the revenue generated by having the team there will greatly outweigh the costs – and the Braves are happily accepting that offer.

    Whining about it is kind of like going out to a nice restaurant, eating all the food and then complaining about the check.

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