Big news: The Braves are moving out of Atlanta [Updated]

Goodbye, Atlanta Braves. Hello, Cobb Cloverleaf Braves.

The Atlanta Braves have reached an agreement to move to Cobb County and are building a stadium for the 2017 season near the Interstate-285/I-75 connector. The team’s 20-year contract with the city of Atlanta expires in 2016, so they’ll be moving 12 miles north, according to the team.

An official agreement with the county has yet to be signed, but officials say they’re 100-percent sure the deal will get done, according to an AJC.com report.

If you’re wondering why the Braves are doing this, it’s because (surprise!) they want to make more money. A chief complaint from fans is that they simply can’t get from the northern suburbs to the stadium on weeknights because of traffic. Now, they’ll be playing much closer to the fan base (see map below).

Since I live less than five minutes from the site of the new stadium, I think this will be good and bad. I’ll love having the Braves closer so I can attend more games, but traffic is likely become even more of a nightmare than it already is. On the other hand, I can park at my office and walk to the stadium now, which is a huge plus.

As a Braves fan, I fully believe the Braves would win more games per year if the fan base were raucous and packed the stadium every night like Phillies fans do in Philadelphia or Giants fans do in San Francisco. This new stadium is more likely to do that, which adds to my belief that the Braves are doing the right thing.

The Braves have launched a page for the news, which you can view here.

Here’s why the Braves are moving north: Deadspin has posted a map of the team’s ticket base, which is well north of Turner Field, as you can see:

Braves fans map

Also, the Braves currently play in the fourth-oldest stadium in the National League, though Turner Field will only be 20 years old when the Braves move north. Currently, only Wrigley Field, Dodger Stadium and Coors Field are older.

Additionally, a father can finally say the following to his wife on a weeknight: “Let’s meet halfway between the office and home and take the kids to a Braves game tonight.”

I drove past the 60-acre plot of land on Monday morning, and here are some immediate thoughts I had:

  • Major upgrades are needed: If the stadium opened today, it would be on the corner of two four-lane roads with a traffic light. The thought of moving 41,000 people out of that area is horrific. Also, as is true along many points on Highway 41, there are plenty of run-down spots near the new stadium that make the area look sketchy.
  • Once fans get off the lot, there’s no highway exit within the immediate area. Sure, I-75 is close, but there’s no on-ramp at that location. Currently, you have to drive a mile north or south to get on a highway. That will have to change, and it won’t be easy. The Cobb Cloverleaf is built a specific way, and adding another exit would cause a lot of clutter. And if they completely overhaul the connector, construction will lead to major headaches over the next couple of years.
  • There’s no confusing it – this team is moving to the suburbs. There are neighborhoods nearby, the headquarters of the Boy Scouts across the street and many office parks across the highway. That means the businesses that have open parking lots will need to upgrade and put gates out front so people can’t park their cars for free, and folks who moved to the quiet neighborhoods near the new ballpark will suddenly have no peace and quiet for 81 days of every year, starting in 2017.

It’s time to play ball, Cobb County.

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