Mayor Reed: Turner Field could be ‘sold very soon’

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed has said that Turner Field could be “sold very soon” in an interview with WSB˗TV Channel 2 and the Atlanta Journal˗Constitution.

In the interview, Reed indicated that the city would give Georgia State University a “campus that they’ve never had before,” but then changed his language to indicate that a decision hasn’t been fully made.

Jenna Garland, Reed’s press secretary, said that despite the comments that nothing would be forthcoming soon.

“A decision won’t happen ‘within the next 24 hours’,” Garland said.

In Reed’s interview, he also said another caveat of the deal would be to connect the property with Zoo Atlanta.

Zoo Atlanta, as well as Turner Field are both owned by the Atlanta˗Fulton County Recreational Authority (AFCRA) which has representatives from both governmental entities on its board of directors.

AFCRA recently named William K. Whitner as the organization’s new chairman, and he says that it has had contact with Mayor Reed.

“We have had communications with the Mayor’s office as it relates to Turner Field’s future, but we are not in a position to speak at this time regarding any potential sale or use,” Whitner said.

Garland told The Signal that the intention for the Zoo Atlanta connection would be to better link the two facilities. Turner Field and Zoo Atlanta are approximately a mile and a half apart from each other.

A joint bid by Georgia State and the locally˗based Carter Real Estate firm is competing against others from private developers.

Don Hale, a spokesman for Georgia State, said it would be “premature” for the university to offer any comment at this time. Carter also had no comment.

Georgia State’s proposal, which has been described by various university representatives as “preliminary” would include for Turner Field to be retrofitted into a 30,000 seat stadium for the football team.

A new baseball stadium would also be constructed on the site that was once the home of Atlanta˗Fulton County Stadium.

Retail space, expanded parking, and private housing would also be constructed if the city decides to go with Georgia State’s bid.

University president Mark Becker said at last month’s State of the University address that the housing complexes would be similar to the recently completed One Twelve Courtland complex at the corner of Courtland Street and John Wesley Dobbs Avenue.

The news also comes amidst Fulton County feeling it has been left out of the Turner Field negotiations and that the total price tag for selling the property could be upwards of $1 billion with additional developments.

Mike Rieman of the Cookerly Public Relations firm representing Carter told The Signal that the real estate firm remains steadfastly behind the original $300 million estimate for its developments.

Fulton County Commission Chairman John Eaves said that given Fulton’s stake in the property it should be included in any all conversations regarding its sale.

“Suffice it to say that any decisions regarding the plans for Turner Field following the expiration of the Braves’ lease at the end of 2016 will require the County’s involvement and approval,” Eaves said.

One of the developments, according to reports, would be an extension of the Atlanta Streetcar to run down Capitol Avenue through the 77˗acre property. The Streetcar is jointly managed by the city of Atlanta and the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA).

Garland said that the proposed route is not the only one being discussed since there are plans to expand the Streetcar beyond its initial 2.6 mile route.

Also complicating matters is the fact that the Braves have yet to inform the city of Atlanta on when they intend on ending the aforementioned lease on the 77˗acre property.

The Braves intend on leaving Turner Field and moving into SunTrust Park in Cobb County beginning with the 2017 season, the same year in which original reports said Becker wanted to break ground on the property after Georgia State and Carter would purchase it from the city of Atlanta.

Those reports have been described as “premature” and “speculation” to The Signal with various university representatives.