After 16 Years, Braves Build Another New Stadium
In a typical tale of excess, the Atlanta Braves are about to break ground on a new baseball stadium. They only moved into their current stadium 16 years ago, in 1997. The new stadium will cost $625 million and be publicly subsidized. Yes, coming off the end of the worst financial crisis of our times, Atlanta residents, who are stricken with a 7.2% unemployment rate, are having their tax money spent on a new pro sports stadium. Is this really necessary?
Despite the fact that public subsidies for sports are a bit ridiculous to begin with, I suppose we should start by examining the current baseball stadium in Atlanta, Turner Field. So, here is a picture.
Despite the fact that I'm not a huge baseball fan, I would say that the stadium looks nice as it is. It is located right near downtown Atlanta and has a capacity of about 50,000 seats. Let's consider that there are plenty of perfectly good "old" stadiums such as Fenway Park in Boston, built in 1912, or Chicago's Wrigley Field, dating back to 1914. Supposedly, Turner Field, built in 1996, is in need of $200 million in renovations.
I bet that I or almost anyone could come up with a list of 25 or more items that Atlanta could spend it's $650 million on instead of a second brand new sports stadium.
Analyzing the Case
Let's assume for a minute that this new stadium would be free. Would it at least be a good improvement over the current facility? The Braves claim that there is no good highway access to the stadium and that parking for games is a real challenge. Moving the stadium is the only way to enable people to get to the games. Wrong.
First of all, here is a picture of the relationship between the stadium and downtown Atlanta. Notice that there are three main highways that nearly run right next to the stadium. One is even called the Downtown Connector. It couldn't possibly be more convenient for residents to reach a new stadium.
Oh and to make the case that there is no parking does not work either. From the last picture it is easy to see all of the parking surrounding the current stadium, but I'll show you another picture just to prove my point. This blacktop surface space is already wasted during anytime that a game is not in session.
And last but not least I would like to point out where exactly the new stadium will be located.
The black rectangle shows Turner Field, the current stadium, right in downtown. The red rectangle shows the location of the new stadium, which is at the outer edge of the Atlanta Beltway. I would say by almost any measure this is a much more inconvenient location.