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.

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