After months of negotiations and planning, Georgia State and its partner developers are moving forward with a purchase of Turner Field, in its last year as home of the Atlanta Braves, for $30 million.
Real estate developers Carter and Oakwood Development are planning to work with Georgia State on a new mixed-use development (apartments, single-family homes, classroom space, collegiate ballpark, student housing, grocery store) surrounding the ballpark, while also converting it to a football stadium for the 2017 season. This would be the third use for the facility: It was constructed for the 1996 Summer Olympics and then downsized to accommodate the Braves. With the team moving to a new Cobb County ballpark in 2017, the city was faced with the issue of what to do with a large parcel and a sports facility. The Georgia State plan, which will significantly expand the school’s footprint, also represents a significant urban investment for Atlanta. In some ways, Georgia State and its partners will do what the Olympics and Braves never managed to do: create a potentially thriving urban district.
All parties expect the deal to close at the end of the year. Technically, the stadium is being sold by the Atlanta Fulton County Recreation Authority.
Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed and Fulton County Commission Chairman John Eaves made the announcement at press conference this morning. From the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:
“Turner Field may no linger be a baseball field, but it will still be a field of dreams,” Reed said.
The mayor said the area will say goodbye to “asphalt eyesores” and hello to a walkable district with shops and amenities. He also said the area could eventually see greater MARTA bus service and streetcars to the Atlanta Beltline, if city voters in November approval a half-penny sales tax to fund an expansion of MARTA….
The Georgia State team has been quiet about their plans during negotiations. But in December, university President Mark Becker said “the Turner Field project will be transformational for the surrounding neighborhoods, the city and our university, and we embrace our responsibility to work closely with community and civic leaders in getting it done.”
The new site design requires acknowledgement of the sports history at the site. A wall from Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium, which ushered Atlanta into the modern sports era when the Atlanta Braves and the Atlanta Falcons set up shop there in 1966, is set to be incorporated into the new ballpark. Also requiring some attention in the redevelopment: the cauldron for the Olympic flame.
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