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The Excalibur

Goodbye Turner Hello Suntrust

Despite the well known decision to leave Atlanta, division continues to separate fans for and against the new Suntrust Park even after its grand opening.

The team announced at the stadium's groundbreaking that the naming rights of the stadium were sold to Atlanta-based SunTrust Banks for a 25-year partnership.

The team announced at the stadium's groundbreaking that the naming rights of the stadium were sold to Atlanta-based SunTrust Banks for a 25-year partnership.

Olivia Jenkins, Staff

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The wait was finally over for Braves fans to begin their season at the new Suntrust Park in mid April. But before the celebrations of the night could begin, the stadium experienced its fair share of controversy between those for the new location and those against it. Formerly Centennial Olympic Park, the stadium was built for the 1996 Atlanta Olympics and then leased to the Atlanta Braves and renamed Turner Field after the Braves owner. The location and Braves organization value the historical references the field brings, from the  “Braves” logo originating in 1912 and representing the Native American warrior to Turner Field’s humble Olympic beginnings.  The stadium has been the site of many fascinating moments in history, including opening night’s sell out of 45,044 seats and defeat of the Chicago Cubs, 5-4 and Hank Aaron’s epic 715th career home run. But to everyone’s surprise, the Atlanta Braves announced they will be leaving Turner Field for a new stadium, holding about 42,000 occupants, costing an estimated $672 million dollars, in none other than Cobb County Marietta. The move is precipitated  by the end of their 20 year lease agreement for Turner Field, which expired at the end of the 2016 season, but why was there a great division over the move?

For some reason, the “suburban Braves” doesn’t have quite the same ring as using Georgia’s capital. The fact that the “Atlanta Braves” won’t be based in Atlanta was a big issue for many about the move. Although it was not an easy win for Cobb County, resident voting eventually gave the local government permission to place bids to house the baseball team. Atlanta mayor, Kasim Reed, was hesitant to fund a new stadium, especially for the large asking price from the Braves. With Cobb’s offer to pay $450 million of the almost $700 million price tag, most of which will come from taxpayer dollars, the Braves had a significant reason to leave the location despite having lived in Atlanta since 1966. Another claim against the move is lack of nearby public transportation. Although the Braves’ executives claim that they are working with the county to solve this problem, an effective solution is doubtful, especially since Cobb recently voted against allowing MARTA into its boundaries. As aforementioned, hosting this stadium is no small fee. The price tag makes Suntrust Park the third most expensive in all of baseball, behind the the Yankees and Mets. The county is taking most of the money from local taxpayers but is also finding funds through other local branches, such as the education department. An eighty-four million gap is being filled by the superintendent of Cobb County schools moving a “large portion” of high school classes online. Five furloughed days for teachers and the loss of 182 positions have also been made to make room in the budget. But with these arguments against the stadium, there are many that encouraged the construction, including residents of Cobb, because, to them, the majority of negative effects are temporary.

Braves officials planned for approximately 8,000 fewer seats than Turner Field in order to intensify the crowd, considering every game doesn’t sell out.

The Braves’ big move has been noted to revolutionize the state’s appreciation for baseball and essentially build a stronger community. For starters, the Braves Organization will own the stadium for themselves, rather than renting it per say. With their contract ending with the 2016 season, those in favor of moving claim it would be too expensive to repair Turner Field to its top performance as well as keep up with leasing. Just as those arguing against the location change cite the lack in public transportation, fans pushing for Cobb County encourage the nearby I-75 and I-285 as a shorter commute overall. Not only would travel be more productive, the land around the stadium would be more effectively developed versus Turner Field’s surrounding wasteland. New restaurants and bars would bring both a job market and financial growth and a hotel would also be added to encourage the Southeast fans to travel over. Additionally, more parking spaces and less seats will help to achieve the overall goal of emphasizing fan experience.

The significant trend in revamping the Braves is to build the peak family pastime baseball games once were. The organization can benefit greatly from being more accessible to its fans and by creating an atmosphere where fans will want to remain before during and even after games. Despite the conflicts and initial obstacles the county now faces, the efforts of the Braves are catered to the most devoted fans to nurture a more intimate, family  and fan setting.

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