The Atlanta Braves released a new set of renderings for their 60-acre ballpark village concept, set to open in 2017 in Cobb County, Georgia. A quick roundup of features:
- 41,000-seat ballpark
- 6,000 parking spaces
- 500 residences
- A boutique hotel
- Retail and office space
Populous is designing the ballpark. Something bugged me about the look when I first saw the pictures this morning, but I couldn’t put my finger on it. Then I realized that the bowl looks like two-thirds of a football or soccer stadium. The “C” shape with its curving corners are as inoffensive as Wonder Bread. It has three seating decks, or four if you count the split upper deck/single concourse as two decks. Club seats and suites are packed behind the plate, as is the case with so many recent Populous parks. Firm principals Joe Spear and Earl Santee (lead) talked specifically about not having the park resemble other previous work. I suppose they can’t avoid it. The Chop House restaurant in right field resembles a similar feature in left at Target Field. Cantilevering is modest, except for the 90-foot long roof, which will be great for fans in the upper deck.
The big change is of the orientation to nearly true south. No current park has such an angle, the closest being Comerica Park’s south-southeast orientation. While that shouldn’t have much of effect on the game on the field, fans along the third base line could be subject to some difficult sun in the afternoons (or nice sunsets in the evening). Previously the ballpark faced southeast. Northeast is the preferred orientation by MLB.
By changing the orientation, Populous can take advantage of an already existing feature on the mostly undeveloped land: a lake with a fountain. That lake will be transformed to fit the development, yet it will remain just beyond the outfield and near the big entry plaza. Populous is also utilizing topography, by nestling the grandstand into a hill that rises 70 feet from the lowest point on the property.
Parking will be situated at the western and eastern ends of the property. They’ll need garages to get to 6,000 spaces, otherwise that much parking would require 46 acres of surface lots. It would seem appropriate for traffic planners to route fans from the north to one end, while fans from the south use parking lots at the other end. The Braves are also claiming that they’ll have parking available from parking lots surrounding the village, which tends to lead to overly optimistic projections. The ballpark will be one of the least public transit accessible parks in the majors, which translates to the team needing more than 10,000 spaces at a close proximity. 6,000 won’t cut it.
All told, the Braves’ plans bear a keen resemblance to Lew Wolff’s failed ballpark village efforts in Oakland and Fremont. The key difference is that the ballpark in this case feels tangential to the rest of the development, not wholly integrated. A bolder approach would’ve been to put the ballpark on the western end, parking on the east end, and allow fans to walk 1,000 feet to the ballpark through the village. The ballpark could be oriented to the east and Populous could even take advantage of a small hill on the western end. Oh well.
In the aftermath of the City of Oakland bashing that followed the Little League story the other day, I was a bit sore. I live and work in Oakland. I spent 15 years coaching and umping in the nollsoll LLeague while my kids were moving up through the ranks. I have some perspective.
In the course of a twitter exchange with Susan Slusser, she objected to to my tone. First thing this morning, I apologized, with this tweet:
@susanslusser @Bleacherdave Apologies. Moving on-both BA teams w/ great records. Somebody should use Sly & F Stone Hot Fun for walk-up today
RM discovered Ms. Slusser’s objection and retweeted it tonight. You can see it in his twitter feed to the left. He ignored my acknowledgment of fault and the rest of my good faith. As usual, he has no context, and he wants none. He’s a superficial fraud. He is #lewsshill.
@xoot – I don’t worry about what you say to me or about me, because I know to discount whatever you say. No big deal. I kicked you off the site in the past. I’ve blocked you on Twitter, so I can’t automatically see any replies you send to me.
However, I can take a minute or two every week to look at your tweets. Doesn’t take long at all. I saw you acting like a jerk, and multiple people called you out on it. You can rest assured that I will periodically check to see if you repeat this behavior. If you do, I will continue to retweet or repost it. Because I get a kick out of it. That tweet confirmed what I saw way back last year – you’re a jerk. If you don’t want to be called out on it, don’t act like one in public.
You’re exposed. Deal with it.
Ever since the move was first announced and the earlier renderings came out, my thought on this whole braves situation has been “But why?”
These new renderings only reaffirm that question. I get the claims that they’ll be closer to their core Atlanta metro area fanbase, but to me that doesn’t seem worth moving a short distance to a non-descript suburb with terrible access. Moving from an urban core to a suburb defies most logic to me. I’m not really sure anyone else understands the logic either. The reception to the move in the media has been confused and underwhelmed as well.
You can immediately hear the hesitation from ESPN. Yep, I’m definitely leaning towards this being an outright silly idea.
From a practical standpoint I think this design meets some goals, especially the protection from the heat/humidity in ATL with the long roof and the air conditioning. However this design from a look standpoint looks like any old mall-like stadium. I would think there would be some unique Southern to make it stand out, but nope. At least Cisco Field, if it ever happens would bring the mission-style look that makes it californian. Overall I am underwhelmed by this proposal. It’s not transit accessible, maybe they need to look into a bus service ala Dodgers.
Lastly, Slusser is a great journalist, beat writer and seems like a great person. Tweets like that are just dumb and rude.
ML, the Spear Santee link above doesn’t work. FYI.
@Nicosan – Fixed.
Turner Field will be the first of the retro era ballparks built since Camden Yards(1992) to be replaced, and after only a ridiculous twenty years at that. I just wonder how Selig and MLB can rationalize this, especially in view of the fact that they are continuously blocking the A’s from their own plans to replace their rundown and obsolete nearly fifty year old ballpark.
@ llpec – Maybe they’re thinking that if the E.Coliseum lasts another decade or so, then it’ll be deemed “classic” and thus untouchable, like Fenway or Wrigley.
The Giants will be watching new Cobb Ballpark very closely. AT&T Park can only keep the Giants ahead of the curve for so long. Then, bam. 2040 “Giants Land” in Zanker & 237.
@Briggs – By 2040 that land will be already developed.
Thank you, ML!
Thanks for the link SMG, I hope this project gets delayed for quite awhile. I doubt it will work out as the Braves imagine. We’ll probably hear in the future what a boondoggle this whole project was to Cobb County. All of this money spent in hoping they can raise their attendance slightly. I also don’t like the fact that other teams may decide they need to junk their 20 year old stadiums. I’ll be rooting for all kinds of problems with this project.
@llpec: The difference is that the Braves face zero territorial issues in the move.
@Robo: I am positive that this early replacement will be an isolated case. And in fairness, Turner Field is unique in that is was designed to be converted as it was originally used as the Olympic stadium for the ’96 summer games. It’s doubtful that without that reason to build it that it would have been constructed then and the Braves probably would have had to wait several more years for a new (but baseball-specific from the beginning) stadium instead of playing in a converted Turner Field.
@Briggs: It’s impossible to know at this point, but AT&T is widely considered to be a ‘new classic’. The Giants could very well just renovate it decades down the line without actually replacing it. Because there’s no way they’re going to get a more iconic location/design combination.
This stadium is a very “safe” design being a stereotypical “retro” park. They obviously didn’t want to take a risk and end up with a unique loser like Miami did. Problem is it completely undermines the reasons Atlanta is getting a new park. They already have a retro park. Why do they need another one? At least if they’d been daring it would have given them some differentiation from their old park.