Loud music, packed streets, gridlocked traffic and the occasional whiff of a burger sizzling on a grill have filled Turner Field stadium every game day since it became home to the Atlanta Braves in 1997. But by 2017, the ballpark will be singing a different tune.
The Braves officially announced in November 2013 they were leaving Turner Field for a shiny new stadium to be built in Cobb County. The news was explosive.
Since then, the press has scrambled trying to tackle the tangled mass of information that has been pouring in from all sides from the Downtown stadium.
As of this past August, the Braves proclaimed they won’t be resigning their Turner Field lease when it expires Dec. 31, 2016, according to the Atlanta Business Chronicle (ABC).
The Atlanta City Council followed the heels of that decision by approving the Livable Centers Initiative (LCI) grant, according to Creative Loafing (CL).
The LCI study is to compile a report for future developers about what would be the best possible use of the land for its inhabitants.
But the progression of Turner Field and the LCI study has hit a lull. Here is list of the players who are first and second to bat in what could be the final inning of the Turner Field game.
Major league players
From the beginning, Georgia State has made it clear it wants to acquire Turner Field.
Georgia State President Mark Becker said the university is biding its time for the Atlanta Fulton County Recreation Authority (AFCRA), the current owners and caretakers of the baseball field, to put the lot up for sale.
“We continue to be the only folks that have come out with a plan and a public proposal,” Becker said. “We’d like to have the opportunity to buy it as soon as possible.”
Georgia State and Carter, an Atlanta based development company, entered a public-private partnership and in May 2014 unveiled blueprints for a $300 million redevelopment, according to WABE.
Becker said only one-third of the land is Georgia State’s. He said it will be primarily used for athletics, but there will be “academic components as well.”
“Two-thirds of this project is all going to be private,” he said. “It won’t be our land. We won’t build it. We won’t operate it.”
However, after some pushback from local residents in the area, Becker and Carter tweaked their original proposal, according to Curbed Atlanta.
Becker said retail was originally going to be placed in the southeast corner of the lot but now it would be placed towards the middle of the property, drawing people in rather than pushing them out.
The community suggested placing the retail shops along Capital Avenue, which has served as a pseudo barrier separating the neighborhood, according to Becker.
He also said the community preferred building apartments instead of single-family homes, because “there’s a lot of single family properties that are either vacant or are rentals right now that could be residential.”
Another tweak would be to build a smaller college football stadium at the north end, which is closer to the university, and to do an adaptive reuse of Turner Field – similar to the redevelopment of the Ponce City Market building – according to Becker.
Becker said he stands behind Georgia State’s proposal being the best possible proposal for the soon-to-be vacant lot.
“Not only because what will happen there will be good for the city,” he said, “[But because] one hundred years from now Georgia State is still going to be here.”
The LCI study is not a Turner Field study, because the stadium is only a portion of the area being considered, according to Becker.
He said he wants to acquire Turner Field quickly, because his plans are already behind schedule.
Still, while Becker said “our ears are open” to community suggestions, he also said “we will exercise [Georgia State’s] responsibility as well.”
Turner Field Community Benefits Coalition
Residents of Turner Field and Atlanta have united together to form the Turner Field Community Benefits Coalition.
Matthew Garbett – a coalition member and resident of Adair Park – said the coalition is a conglomeration of “47 different organizations representing the neighborhoods of Summerhill, Peoplestown, Mechanicsville, Pittsburgh, Adair Park, Chosewood Park, Grant Park, SAND communities and concerned citywide residents.”
The TFCBC’s wants to ensure the LCI study is completed before a developer signs off on the property to guarantee the community’s voice is heard, according to Garbett.
“There’s a lot of speculation [about possible developments], and the neighborhood has been so severely damaged by parking and so severely damaged by the interstate going through it, that the expectation is [the community] deserves to be heard,” he said.
Garbett, who attended Georgia State, said he would like for the university to honor the community’s wishes and wait for the LCI study to be completed before gobbling up the property.
“Georgia State is not compelled to listen to the LCI, but they have the funding to do their own kind of community outreach,” he said. “I think that starting more closely to the baseline approach as opposed to ‘here’s the product, you can pick the color’ approach, that they had in the past, would behoove of them better.”
He also said he is aware asking 10,000 people within a two mile radius to have an unanimous vote is unrealistic, but he hopes the LCI will provide guidance.
“The Braves aren’t going to move out before the end of 2016 anyway,” Garbett said. “This process will be done in June and from that, let that be the basis for what any developer, GSU or somebody else, proposes.”
Mayor Kasim Reed has had his hands full juggling the media, possible proposals and the community’s desires.
A spokesman from Reed’s office said the mayor has given his support to Georgia State as a possible developer.
However, the spokesman also said Reed “feels an obligation to hear out serious proposals from other potential developers.”
The mayor has acknowledged the City of Atlanta’s approval of the LCI study and the meetings that are to commence, according to the spokesman.
“Recommendations from those meetings will be strongly considered as a sale is finalized,” he said.
Minor league players
Who’s batting second
MGM Casinos (kind-of)
MGM Resorts International, known for its casinos and entertainment, placed a $1.1 billion proposal alongside Georgia State’s proposition on July 1, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (AJC).
By July 23, three other casinos had thrown their bid in with MGM, according to the Atlanta Business Chronicle (ABC).
Reed’s spokesman said the mayor will be meeting with a casino representative soon.
Atlanta City Council
The Atlanta City Council approved the Atlanta Regional Commission’s $287,000 grant for the LCI study on Aug. 17, according to the Atlanta Business Chronicle (ABC). The study is set to commence this year and be completed by next June.
Councilwoman Carla Smith, who holds community meetings regularly on Turner Field, said she is unsure if the Atlanta City Council will have a final vote in the Turner Field decision.
“No one knows how that process is going to work,” she said.
Smith said right now she is focusing on getting a neighborhood reading from the LCI study to ensure the community will have a plan ready.
“[That way] any developer that comes in will know what kind of amenities our neighborhood desires,” she said.
The LCI contract is being signed now, according to Smith. A date will follow shortly.