The Sprawl

Living in the sprawl,

Dead shopping malls rise like mountains beyond mountains

-Arcade Fire

This morning the Braves, the one team I have adopted since carpetbagging to Atlanta, dropped a bombshell and announced they are moving to the suburbs of Cobb County. If I had to chose between death and living in Cobb County, I would have to think about it.

Turner Field

Will be missed.

Their reasons are pretty self-explanatory: they’re going to make more money off it. Oh they won’t say that of course, but all stadium moves are about money and money only. The stadium will be smaller capacity, which means higher ticket prices. There is no MARTA rail to anywhere near the stadium, so everyone will have to drive, meaning everyone will have to pay to park, which is more revenue for the Braves. They will pay less in yearly stadium costs and keep more in yearly stadium revenue. It all makes sense from the standpoint of business.

But as a fan, it’s bullshit:

The reason for moving is simple. The current location has certain issues that are insurmountable and will only become more problematic over the years. These fundamental issues involve how you, our fans, access Turner Field. There is a lack of consistent mass transportation, a lack of sufficient parking and a lack of direct access to interstates. Furthermore, the Braves do not have control over the development of our immediate surroundings.

Horsecrap. Traffic on the downtown connector that nearly everyone takes to get to Turner Field is undeniably rough, but traffic sucks in every city. However driving is not the only option to Turner Field, it is currently serviced by the Braves Shuttle, buses that run exclusively from the intersection of all the MARTA train routes to the stadium and back, about a 15 minute ride to the game and 10 on the way back. I take it to every game I go to, and I go often. The Braves strongly considered adding a maglev train only four months ago, but obviously very quickly and very quietly scrapped that, because now they’ll get more money. The Braves and the city were in talks to renovate the area surrounding Turner Field. But they weren’t going to make as much money on it as they will be when they add more chain restaurants and “sports bars” to already giant, soul killing sprawl that is Cobb County. 

I get that the vast majority fans live in the north suburbs, but this location is insane. The Braves’ propaganda talking points are hilarious. The stadium will have no mass transit access beyond standard Cobb County Transit buses. I used to live a few miles south of the site, and going north after 3pm is madness. I sat in traffic for nearly two hours a few weeks ago on the same stretch of highway to go to a rehearsal dinner and thought “how much do I really like this friend.” MARTA goes nowhere near the new stadium and rail there will not be built in the three years between now and when the new stadium will open. If funding was approved today, it might get built in time, but it isn’t going to be, Cobb County voted 69/31 to reject massive and needed increases in public transportation last year. So everyone will be driving, which is what they want, because then you have to park in a lot they make money off of. Replacing a location with bad traffic but that offers a public transportation option with a location with bad traffic and no public transportation option is in no way shape or form an improvement. But that’s what they’re selling. PT Barnum would be proud.

It gets better. The Braves claim they would need $150 in infrastructure repairs at Turner Field, but that’s crap too. One of the items in “need” of replacing is the seats (the only other one they say is the lights, though the scoreboard is in need of repair). There’s nothing wrong with the seats at Turner Field, the whole place is in pretty good shape. We have almost no details about the stadium let alone if it’s even a done deal, but $450M of it will be paid by someone other than the Braves, meaning taxpayers, plus various construction and property tax breaks. Residents of Cobb County are just going to love that. The northern suburbs, particularly the northwestern suburbs, are the reddest areas in the state. Libertarian deep red. Fuck any kind of tax and keep your damn government hands off my Medicare deep red. Obama is a socialist Kenyan muslim red. Creationism in public schools deep red.They just love taxes paying for stadiums there, almost as much as they love universal healthcare. Adding to it, the county is broke, and they have no idea how they are going to pay for it. Everything about this is bullshit.

I hope this falls apart and the Braves have to stay at Turner Field. Because it’s the only way I’m going to games in 2017 and beyond.

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