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Becker briefly mentions Turner Field at State of the University Address

Toward the closing of Georgia State President Mark Becker’s sixth State of the University Address, he brought up a topic that has been on the minds of many: the university’s plans to purchase Turner Field.

Those plans are being done in conjunction with the locally-based Carter Real Estate firm and has estimated cost of $300 million. It includes the retrofitting of the incumbent Atlanta Braves stadium into a new 30,000 seat stadium that will play host to Georgia State football.

A new stadium for the baseball team would also be constructed on the current Turner Field parking lot that once served as the home of Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium, the Braves’ previous stadium.

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Between the two athletic facilities, parking, retail space, and private housing would also be constructed if Georgia State is successful in purchasing the property from the city of Atlanta, according to Becker.

He said that the housing projects constructed would be similar to the recently completed 112 Courtland student housing complex on the corner of John Wesley Dobbs Avenue and Courtland Street.

Becker remarked that the Turner Field proposal is one that is commonly brought up, including when he had lunch prior to delivering his address.

“Our main goals are to move out of Panthersville and bring Georgia State athletics facilities downtown, and to do as part of a larger project that will revitalize the surrounding area and neighborhoods, much as our main campus has done for downtown,” Becker said.

Soccer, baseball, and softball are the sports that Georgia State currently hosts in Panthersville. The first two are the sports that would move to the Turner Field site under the current plan as it does not specify a home for the softball team.

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During the summer, softball coach Roger Kincaid told The Signal that he was optimistic that softball will eventually be included in the university’s proposal.

According to Becker, the facilities that would be developed by Carter would receive no financial input from Georgia State as they would use them for other purposes outside of the athletics stadia.

Even as Becker devoted time as part of his address to the much-talked about proposal, he still described the plan as “conceptual” and did not mention a target date that he and the university would want to break ground on the Turner Field site.

“There are many variables—the Atlanta Braves, the Fulton County Recreation Authority, the city of Atlanta, the Supreme Court of the State of Georgia, and others that will affect what eventually happens to the site and when,” Becker said.

The Braves intend on moving out of Turner Field after the 2016 Major League Baseball (MLB) season and into SunTrust Park, a 41,500-seat stadium to be constructed in Cobb County near Cumberland Mall. The new Braves’ stadium would also include an entertainment complex to be constructed after SunTrust Park is built.

Becker and Georgia State have been identified in various reports as hoping to break ground on the Turner Field site in January of 2017.

University spokesman Don Hale recently told The Signal in an email that the 2017 date was “extremely premature”.

Georgia State’s new athletic director, Charlie Cobb, also described it as “speculation” in a September interview with The Signal.

In his address, Becker described the university’s proposal for Turner Field as “the most compelling one that has been made public”, and that it would honor the histories of Hank Aaron, the Braves, and the 1996 Olympic Games. Turner Field was originally Atlanta’s Olympic stadium in 1996 before it was retrofitted into the Braves’ ballpark.

He said that Georgia State would be the “anchor” for the site and that the university’s presence would play a pivotal role in revitalizing the area.

“The housing and retail developments would help to bring vitality to our facilities and provide much needed stimulus to the surrounding neighborhoods,” Becker said.

Becker also proclaimed that he could not say when a decision on Turner Field would be made, but that if news broke, he would share it “in a timely manner.”

Angela and Allen Giles

One other athletics-related detail came earlier in the address. Becker, while discussing how much money people have donated to the university, mentioned how Georgia State athletics received $1 million to support its continued development from Angela and Allen Giles.

Angela Giles, now retired, received her business degree from Georgia State in 1971. She and her husband, Allen, are now Georgia State athletics boosters as members of the Panther Athletic Club.

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