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Mayor Reed: ‘The City Was Unwilling To Spend The Hundreds Of Millions Of Dollars Necessary To Keep The Team In Atlanta’

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File photo of Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed (credit: J. Countess/Getty Images)

File photo of Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed (credit: J. Countess/Getty Images)

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ATLANTA (AP) — Some residents of the area around Turner Field said they were shocked and surprised to hear of the Atlanta Braves’ announcement that they plan to build a new stadium in suburban Cobb County.

Tracey Long, 41, has lived several blocks from the current home stadium, Turner Field, for about a decade and said she’s very involved with her neighborhood. While out walking her dog Monday, she said she and other neighbors were disappointed to hear the news.

She said she hopes this is a negotiating tactic that the Braves are using to force a better deal to keep them at Turner Field.

“It’s our hope that this is a ploy, if you will, by the Braves organization to get the city of Atlanta to come through with a deal that’s acceptable,” she said. “The city of Atlanta seems to be more focused on the Falcons, not the Braves. I think there’s going to be a huge amount of backlash from the local community.”

However, Mayor Kasim Reed said in a news release Monday that the city was unwilling to spend the hundreds of millions of dollars necessary to keep the team in Atlanta. The team announced earlier in the day that it plans to move to a $672 million stadium about 10 miles north of downtown in 2017.

Long and her neighbors had been encouraged in recent years by talk about potential mixed-use developments bringing more housing, dining and entertainment options to the area.

“As far as we knew, the city was talking to developers and it was going forward, so this was a complete shock,” she said.

Kristen Rogers, a 28-year-old IT project manager, said she bought her townhouse within view of Turner Field 2 ½ years ago because she thought being close to the stadium and potential new developments would be a smart real estate investment.

“I guess I’ll be selling,” she said. “I think it will bring the value of my property down.”

Rogers hasn’t been to a game since she moved to the area, but she said she enjoys the game-day atmosphere when the team is at home. She can see the giant screen in the stadium from her roof and said she feels like she’s at the game while still in the comfort of her own home.

Tiffany Bridges, 42, a stay-at-home mom who lives in the same row of townhouses, said she was disappointed. She blamed the city for dragging its feet on developing the area.

“Maybe they’d stay if the city would spruce up the neighborhood,” she said. “You have people coming in from out of town for games and there’s no shopping or restaurants or anything around here.”

While she hasn’t been to a game since she moved in about 18 months ago, her son loves to take his 2-year-old daughter to see the team play, and the whole family enjoys watching the fireworks after some games. The honking horns and crowds on game days don’t bother her, and traffic isn’t a problem because she knows back routes, she said.

Sammy Powell, an executive in a Cobb County engineering firm adjacent to the wooded area where the new stadium will be, said he’s thrilled with the news.

He shares Braves season tickets and owns part of the building that houses the firm where he works, so it’s a win-win situation for him, he said.

“If we stay in this building, I’ll have the Braves stadium right next door, and if they buy us out we’ll make a lot of money,” he said.

He and his colleagues had noticed surveyors in plain white trucks in the area recently but didn’t know what was in the works, so he was surprised when he heard the news, he said.

(© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

 

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