I think we can all agree that Turner Field, the Atlanta Braves’ decrepit, rotting old ballyard at the corner of the Downtown Connector and I-20, passed its expiration date years ago.
Hell, the place was built when Bill Clinton was president. That’s like a whole generation ago. The iPhone hadn’t even been invented yet!
No, it’s definitely time for a new ballpark. The young Braves, coming off a 90-loss season, will surely improve. And I hear that Cobb County, where the team is headed, is a model of mass transit and open government.
And it’s not like the Braves aren’t paying for the new place and holding the line on ticket prices.
This weekend will be the last for Major League Baseball at Turner Field. After that, nobody knows for sure — except that Georgia State University has big plans for the area.
Still, I’ll be sad to see Turner Field go. It’s where I saw the Braves and Cardinals blow through nine innings in about 90 minutes, Alan Benes with a no-hitter for 8-2/3 of that, Greg Maddux matching him with a shutout in regulation. (The Braves won in 13, and I hope the fans who left after seven — and there were many, on a gorgeous Friday night in May — have never been allowed to see another baseball game.) It’s where I was treated to a free game after I wrote a letter to then team president Stan Kasten complaining about the bratwursts. (Kasten actually called me personally, more upset than I was. I’ll always love you for that, Stan.) It’s where I saw Tom Glavine, John Smoltz and Chipper Jones — and John Rocker, Albie Lopez and Melvin “B.J.” “No-Hit” Upton.
But hey, time moves on, right? Once baseball was filled with classic stadiums — Fenway Park, Wrigley Field, Dodger Stadium, Kauffman Stadium, Camden Yards, Coors Field, Progressive Field — all of them older than Turner Field. Where are they now, I ask?
Besides, it’s not like people are moving into the city.
Anyway, I leave you — and Turner Field — with two Sunday reads. (Consider it an old-fashioned doubleheader.) One is from Atlanta Magazine a few years ago, noting how the area around the baseball park was always a political (ahem) football, which prevented development. But the second observes that, for all the problems, the Braves were never going to accept less than total control — and not just of the ballpark.
You can read Rebecca Burns’ “The Other 284 Days” here, and Jason Notte’s “Ungrateful Atlanta Braves take the money and run” here. (And here’s a bonus read about the Braves and their minor league cities. Great for business!)
See ya, Turner Field. Wouldn’t want to be ya.