After a mere 16 years in existence, the days for Atlanta’s Turner Field are numbered. The Atlanta Braves announced last week they plan to move to a sparkling new facility in nearby Marietta in 2017. Even in today’s terms, 16 years is a short time for a team to become disgruntled with its home field. After all, it still looks great and is so much better than the old Fulton County Stadium was. Yet, folks in Cobb County made the Braves an offer they can’t refuse, and the team is planning to move.
I never had a problem with “The Ted” unless you count the many times I’ve complained about the high concession prices. Also I’ve complained a bit about the difficulties in getting to a game at Turner Field. The biggest problem as far as transportation is concerned is the fact that the Marta system’s closest subway stop is more than a mile away from the stadium. For instance, if you want to take the subway to a ball game, you have to get off at the city’s famous “Underground Atlanta” area and take a bus to the ball park. That not only proves to be costly but time consuming and bothersome at best. Seeing a game in New York at Yankee Stadium is much easier. The subway has a stop a few hundred yards from the stadium, and there is a huge parking garage a few steps away from the gates. If you drive to a game in Atlanta, you have to fight the traffic; then pay a premium price for a parking place, a long way from the gates of “The Ted.”
The Braves have been to the playoffs two straight years, yet their attendance figures are only eighth best in the National League. Atlanta fans love a winner, but not enough to fight the traffic and other problems facing them in getting to the ball park. The Braves front office seems to have taken notice and in 2017 they plan to make things easier.
There is another factor involved in this decision; it seems that Turner Field is also in a “bad part of town.” That “bad part of town” is supposedly based upon median income of families who live nearby. At Turner Field, it’s $23,000 a year, while in Marietta at the new site, it’s more than $45,000 annually. I’ve never felt unsafe going to a Braves game before - whether it was at the old Fulton County Stadium or Turner Field. However, fan safety all of a sudden seems to be a big deal.
When the Braves finally move to Cobb County, Atlanta city officials say “The Ted” will be demolished. That is sad to me because when the Braves needed a new stadium in the late 1980s, we thought a new one would never be built. Also, the only World Series the Braves have ever won while playing in the South, was in 1995, two years before moving into Turner Field.
When they named the new stadium Turner Field after TV mogul and former Braves owner Ted Turner in 1997, I was very happy with that decision. When “The Ted” is demolished in 2017, there will be nothing notable named for the man, who is still living I might add.
The decision to move has already been made, but I have one suggestion; when you choose a name for this new baseball mecca of the South, let’s call it, Turner-Aaron Stadium. That way the two most influential baseball people ever in the city of Atlanta will be honored as they should.
Randy Smith has been covering sports in Tennessee for the last 43 years. After leaving WRCB-TV in 2009, he has continued his broadcasting career as a free-lance play-by-play announcer. He is also an author and is a media concepts teacher at Brainerd High School in Chattanooga. He is also the Head Softball Coach at Brainerd. Randy Smith's career has included a 17-year stint as scoreboard host and pre-game talk show host on the widely regarded "Vol Network". He has also done play by play of more than 500 college football, basketball, baseball and softball games on ESPN, ESPN2, Fox Sports, CSS and Tennessee Pay Per View telecasts. He was selected as "Tennessee's Best Sports Talk Show Host" in 1998 by the Associated Press. He has won other major awards including, "Best Sports Story" in Tennessee and his "Friday Night Football" shows on WRCB-TV twice won "Best Sports Talk Show In Tennessee" awards. He has also been the host of "Inside Lee University Basketball" on CSS for the past 11 years. He was the first television broadcaster to ever be elected to the "Greater Chattanooga Area Sports Hall of Fame", in 2003. Randy and his wife, Shelia, reside in Hixson. They have two married children (Christi and Chris Perry; Davey and Alison Smith). They also have three grandchildren (Coleman, Boone, and DellaMae).