Why the Braves are leaving Atlanta, in one map

November 11, 2013

Correction: The Braves moved to Atlanta from Milwaukee, not Boston.

The Atlanta Braves are leaving Turner Field to be closer to their fans — who are, increasingly, no longer based in Atlanta.

The Braves, who have called downtown Atlanta home since relocating from Milwaukee in 1966, will build a $672 million stadium in Cobb County, near the intersections of Interstates 75 and 285, the team said Monday. They hope to move into their new 42,000-seat digs by 2017.

Three Braves executives told the Associated Press they had decided this summer not to seek another lease on Turner Field when their contract expires. They began talking to Cobb County officials about building the new facility in July.

Why are the Braves moving out of their stadium, which after all is only 17 years old? The team illustrated a pretty clear reason: The bulk of their ticket sales come from suburbs north of Atlanta, and the new stadium will be closer to those fans.

Here’s a look at ticket sales by ZIP code in 2012:


Image courtesy homeofthebraves.com, via the Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The project will likely require a $450 million investment from Cobb County taxpayers, though county commission chairman Tim Lee told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution only that the commission will vote on a financial package later this month. That means, the paper reported, that any new revenue will have to come from existing taxes, rather than any new fees, which require a popular vote.

In a statement, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed said the city simply wasn’t willing to match the $450 million offer made by Cobb County.

The Braves won’t be the only Atlanta team playing in a new stadium in 2017. The Falcons are building their own new digs, this one in downtown Atlanta, at a cost of $1.2 billion.

Reid Wilson covers state politics and policy for the Washington Post's GovBeat blog. He's a former editor in chief of The Hotline, the premier tip sheet on campaigns and elections, and he's a complete political junkie.
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