Sun Trust Park Update

By Anonymous

A lot of rumors have been floating around about the new Braves stadium. People want to know what it’s going to be like, what’s going to be located there, and whether it’s going to hurt or help the community. Some people have been wondering if building a new baseball stadium is financially responsible considering that plans for a new football stadium have also been approved, but it’s looking like the pros for the new stadium greatly outweigh the cons.

History

Turner field has housed the Atlanta Braves since its reconstruction in 1997 but the Braves will be leaving the field after their lease expires in 2016. It will be sad to say goodbye, but “The Ted” has had a good run. It was originally built as Centennial Olympic Stadium for the 1996 Summer Olympics and afterwards it underwent some renovations that turned it into purely a baseball field that acted as the home of the braves for 20 years. The team president John Schueholz said that Turner field needs over $350 million in renovations- $150 million for structural upkeep and $200 million to improve the fan experience. The new construction is only estimated to have a maintenance cost of $80 million after 30 years.

New Stadium Plan

The new Braves stadium will be located in Cumberland near the highway interchange between interstate 75 and interstate 285. The Braves say that the new location of the stadium will be near the geographic center of the Braves’ fan base. It will occupy 15 acres of a 60 acre lot. The remainder of the lot will be used for parking, green space, and mixed use development.

The budget for the new stadium has a $662 million. Cobb County will contribute $392 million. The county is raising $368 million through bonds, $14 million from transportation taxes, and $10 million cash from businesses in the Cumberland Community Improvement District.

Design

The stadium itself will be oriented to the southwest. People were worried about sun interference, but Atlanta Braves officials said that a comprehensive sun study was conducted by the team and designers and that the orientation will not be an issue.

Seven images that have been released by the Braves showcase the new stadium as well as the shops, restaurants, and entertainment venues that will surround the area.

Construction

The task of building the new Braves Stadium has been given to American Builders 2017. They are a joint venture between Brasfield & Gorrie, Mortenson Construction, Barton Malow Company and New South Construction Company. The team has more than 225 years of construction experience and has completed more than 330 sports projects, including football stadiums, baseball parks, soccer stadiums, basketball arenas and more. Their ballpark experience includes: Target Field, Coors Field, Oriole Park, and Turner field.

The site clearing was scheduled to begin July 15, 2014, but the actual ground breaking ceremony didn’t take place until September 16 because of some delays.

In order to be able to start construction, three natural gas lines that ran under the property had to be moved. The high cost of moving the gas lines was one of the key reasons that the land hasn’t already been developed.

Public Reaction

The public seemed to have differing opinions when it came to the necessity of the new stadium. Citizens organized campaigns both supporting and opposing the plan. One poll showed that only 59% of registered voters in Cobb County favored building a new stadium. Support fell further down to 30% when voters were asked if they’d support funding the stadium with Cobb County tax dollars.

Despite the opposition, the Cobb County Commissioners voted unanimously, 5-0, on the operating agreement that bound the county to borrow up to $397 million to build the new stadium.

Benefits

Although expensive and not fully supported, the new stadium is expected to benefit Cobb County greatly. The park has only been under construction for a few months and Cobb County businesses have already received about 78% of the more than $130 million awarded in contracts. This means that $100 million in contracts for various parts of the construction have been given to Cobb County vendors, subcontractors, and suppliers.

Access to the new stadium is supposed to be greatly improved for fans and the development is also supposed to include entertainment venues, retail shops, and restaurants. There is also talk of hotel development in the area to allow for tourism. The presence of Sun Trust Park is likely to enhance awareness of the Cobb County area and provide it with many new opportunities for both business and entertainment.