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Bucking Trends, Atlanta's Baseball Team Decamps for the Suburbs
"The Braves will leave downtown Atlanta for suburban Cobb County, after a scant 20 years in Turner Field," writes Angie Schmitt. "The team chose the nexus of two highways 13.5 miles north of their current stadium as the site for a new ballpark. According to Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, Cobb County offered $450 million in public support for the stadium."
Increased highway access, larger parking lots, and a desire to be closer to its car-driving suburban fan base are driving the unorthodox move. According to Reuben Fischer-Baum, writing in Deadspin, of the 18 baseball teams to embark on significant stadium moves over the last 50+ years, "just five took teams farther from their urban core, and, of those five, four were shifts of less than a third of a mile."
"There's been increasing skepticism directed toward public subsidies of professional sports venues in recent years," notes Ryan Holeywell, in Governing. "Almost universally, independent economists say they aren't a good deal for taxpayers and typically don't generate anywhere near the sort of economic impact that team owners and public officials say they do."
"'That seems pretty outlandish, extravagant, stupid -- however you want to describe it,' Dennis Coates, an economics professor at University of Maryland Baltimore County, said upon learning of the deal. 'Not for the Braves. It's a great deal for them. But politicians who go along with that, and then start screaming about fiscal responsibility -- they need to be smacked.'"