With two and a half weeks left until their March 31st inaugural game against the Yankees, the Atlanta Braves and Cobb Country are scrambling as they put the finishing touches on their new $622 million SunTrust Park. This project, however, is much more than just building a new stadium. It means moving out of Turner Field and creating a $400 million entertainment district that surrounds the ballpark on undeveloped land 10 miles away from downtown Atlanta. The success of the new park and entertainment district are contingent on each other; as such, there is a lot of stress and pressure for the Braves and Cobb County to get this project off on the right foot.
First, let’s lay out the basics of the project. The Braves former home, Turner Field, was originally built as Centennial Olympic Stadium for the 1996 Summer Olympics and then reconstructed to be a baseball-only stadium. The Braves organization stated that the park needed $350 million in renovations (for structural upkeep and improvements to the fan experience) to keep Turner Field in use. The Braves also owned only 5,000 parking spaces and stated that they did not like the fact that the organization had no control over the commercial development around the park. The search for a new stadium location lead them to Cumberland next to Interstate 75 and 285.
The new stadium has a capacity of 41,000 and the organization owns over 11,000 parking spaces with public transpiration and an Uber drop-off/pick-up zone. Beyond the park, however, is something much more. The $400 million entertainment district called ‘The Battery Atlanta’ that includes the new Southeast regional headquarters of Comcast, a new hotel that is a 50-50 partnership with the Braves and Omni Hotels, a new live entertainment venue called Roxy Theatre, and a flurry of food options that have connections both inside and outside of the ballpark. ‘The Battery’ offers luxury apartments as well, creating an entire neighborhood around the ballpark from scratch.
As we approach two weeks until opening for both SunTrust Park the results have been astounding.
The final touches with food and drinks are also being put into place the Terrapin Beer Co. adding fermenters and a tap room to create a miniature brewery onsite.
Outside of SunTrust Park, ‘The Battery Atlanta’ is coming together as businesses,pathways, apartment complexes, and skyscrapers were built from scratch from the undeveloped property.
Now, I would be lying to you if I said that this project was picture perfect and there was no drama. While finishing the project is coming down to the wire, the major issue that still exists is transportation to the area. Even though the organization owns over 11,000 parking spaces, the public transportation to get fans from the city out to the new stadium is still of major concern and there are improvements that need to be made to the region’s infrastructure to accommodate the increased traffic. On Tuesday, the Cobb County Commissioners voted 4-1 to pay the Braves an extra $14 million (even though the county doesn’t know where they will get the money) after a contract dispute over the needed transportation improvement costs.
While there are still many things to complete over the next few weeks, transportation issues that still need to be fixed, and tests needing to be completed both inside and outside the ballpark, this is an exciting time for the Atlanta Braves. The team is trending upward after years spent rebuilding and now has a new home and neighborhood that it can call home for decades to come. If you’re in Atlanta in the near future, take a day and check out the new home of the Atlanta Braves.