Why Atlanta’s Better Off Without Turner Field

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A proposal from Georgia State University and a local developer would replace Turner Field and its enormous surface parking lots (left) with mixed-use infill development (right). Images via ATLUrbanist

When the Braves announced they were leaving Atlanta for suburban Cobb County, it was interpreted in some quarters as a blow to the city, another symptom of the city’s notorious suburban sprawl.

But it looks like Atlanta might come out of this thing smelling like a field of roses. Not only did the city avoid shelling out hundreds of millions of dollars to keep the Braves, Atlanta could get a better neighborhood out of the deal as well.

Georgia State University and local developer Carter and Columbia Residential are proposing a mixed-use development on the site currently occupied by Turner Field and its enormous parking lots, according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution.

The plan calls for a large sports complex, and it doesn’t look like a great walkable street grid. But it will have a mix of uses, including academic buildings, housing, and retail. It beats an ocean of surface parking, without a doubt.

Publicly-financed stadiums are often sold to cities as an economic development boon. But Turner Field didn’t do much for the surrounding neighborhood. In a piece last July, Atlanta Magazine wrote that “outside this ballpark there’s nothing to do and nowhere to go but home” and compared the atmosphere on non-game days to a wake.

The AJC said the new development would represent a “profound investment in a stadium district that has failed to draw many businesses since the original Atlanta Stadium was built there in the 1960s.” Multiple developers had been in talks with the mayor about the site, according to the paper.

  • Dennis P

    This is a great plan for GSU, but what is a bad plan.. taking control of WRAS 88.5 out the student’s hands and giving it to GPB. Don’t destroy an Atlanta cultural institution #saveWRAS

  • Wewilliewinkleman

    And it has to be a grid because…

  • Andy B from Jersey

    I agree this could be good for Atlanta but Tutner Field is less than 20 years old and was built for the 1996 Olympics. What a waste of infrastructure. I bet the Braves are getting another publicly financed ballpark paid by Cobb County tax payers.

  • Roger215

    You bet right! Cobb County is paying half of the stadium cost!
    http://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/mlb/2013/11/26/cobb-county-georgia-commissioners-approve-plan-for-atlanta-braves-stadium/3762973/

    It’s a waste of infrastructure, but what was it going to do anyway? Just sit there vacant? Baseball already had one of those in Tropicana field.

  • twh

    Those blocks seem reasonably small. Isn’t that more important for walkability than a rectilinear grid?

  • Elvira

    No!! What those of us who live in Cobb County has inherited is a Living Nightmare and the Deep Pockets has just gotten Deeper. It was not a well thought out plan Why? because it was done in the Dark and when the Sun rose they threw it in our face. Ignorance can be Educated, Crazy can be Medicated but, there is no cure for stupid!!!