New Stadiums Suck

After getting caught up in the aura of a shiny new arena or ballpark, just admit it.  New stadiums suck, and here’s why:

Turner Field

Courtesy of www.andrewclem.com

It was the summer of 2006, and for our family vacation we did what the 14-year-old kid wanted to do: take a trip down the East coast to several different baseball stadiums that I had never experienced. First, we made our way to Camden Yards, a beautiful ballpark in Baltimore to see the Orioles take on the Braves. I had a blast, got some autographs and sat about ten rows up from the field (the stadium was essentially vacant). Surely, it was the nicest stadium I had been to. My list was short: Yankee Stadium and Shea Stadium were the only two others to make my list. Oh, and TD Bank Ballpark, where the Somerset Patriots play, an independent minor league team in New Jersey. They should count on my list, right? The following day, we drove up to Philadelphia to see the Phillies take on the Astros in their brand new stadium, Citizens Bank Park. A day later, a new number one on my list. This one trumped all the others. The food was great, the lighting inside, the landscaping outside and the overall sleekness was impressive. I was having a ball.

Following my trip to those two stadiums in two nights, I realized something.  Despite having a great time as an early teenage baseball fan getting his idea of a vacation, these experiences would never equal my trips to Yankee Stadium. I had been there a dozen times at least, and this wasn’t simply because I was a Yankee fan. It was because it had history. Moments had happened there. Sure, it had been renovated a bit, the landscape of the stadium had been updated. But, there was history there. Games and players and teams my Dad could reminisce to me. There wasn’t much to say outside of the sensational appearance of a Camden Yards or Citizens Bank Park.

Now, at 22-years old, I am very thankful to have had the opportunity to attend the real Yankee Stadium. Not the one they play in right now. I haven’t been to that one yet, and really have no future plan to attend. I’m disappointed they knocked down all the history that came with the old venue, and built a new corporate-feeling park that has empty seats because regular New Yorker’s simply can’t afford the tickets.

And yes, I know what you’re thinking. Sometimes new stadiums are necessary. Teams like the Mets in Shea Stadium, or the Phillies in Veterans Stadium, they really needed a new park. Shea and Veterans were seemingly falling apart, and their devoted fan bases certainly deserved better. I still get an empty feeling inside knowing that the old Yankee Stadium is never coming back. Just to show you why they didn’t need a new stadium, they copied the dimensions from the old park to the new one. To give it a similar feel, they say. Unbelievable.  Ah, tough life as a Yankees fan I guess, right? 

Atlanta’s New Adventure

My story about the new stadiums was a prelude into the news of the Atlanta Braves situation. In 2014, the Braves will start construction on a new ballpark, this time north of Atlanta in nearby Cobb County. The construction is slated to be complete by Opening Day of 2017, just in time for the expiring lease their current park in 2016. But, as a sports fan, I find myself asking: What was wrong with renewing the lease? They are leaving Turner Field, a park that will be just 20 years old. It is a stadium that hosted the 1996 Olympic Games! According to Forbes, this “would make the Braves the first club to have a stadium built under the Selig tenure and then move into a newer ballpark.” After having Turner Field renovated for them following the Olympics in 1997, and then a series of significant changes being made in 2005, the Braves still feel it is necessary to make the move from downtown Atlanta about ten miles away to Cobb County.

And at what cost? Well, the entire project is expected to cost $672 million dollars, and close to half of it is expected to be paid for by the residents of the County. At a time when local governments and municipalities are having trouble paying for teachers, cops, etc. Cobb county and Atlanta believe it’s a good idea to build a new baseball stadium. A report by Deadspin’s Brett Petchesky found, “While the majority of Cobb County residents won’t be paying any additional taxes to fund the Braves’ stadium, a large amount of their existing tax payments will cover for the costs. That’s $8.67 million a year over 30 years, 260 million dollars, that Cobb County could spend on other things (say, rehiring all those teachers) but will instead use to build a ballpark.”

The most startling (and scary) part of the process is that it’s not very democratic. Cobb county residents really never had a say in the matter, because county officials believe holding a referendum on the issue would cost the city $300,000-400,000 for an election, and is deemed “too expensive”.  As The Wire put it, “In Birrell’s [Cobb Co. Commissioner] view, a baseball team moving about 20 minutes closer to Cobb residents is worth $300 million to the area. A democratic vote in costing less than 0.1 percent of that shiny new stadium, apparently isn’t.” In a country founded on democracy, it seems shocking that, in this case, local citizens have essentially no say where their tax dollars go.

For more information on the Braves situation, I leave you with this very interesting five minute video that is well worth watching:

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What are your thoughts on new stadiums? Do you think the Braves should leave Turner Field? We would love to hear your thoughts on the subject.  Tweet us, leave a comment below or drop us a line on our Facebook page.

About Tyler Michels

Tyler is an NC State alum living in Raleigh, NC. Growing up in Northwest New Jersey, Tyler developed a love for New York sports teams, driving his desire to become a writer. In his free time, Tyler can probably be found on a golf course.

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