As we approach the end of August 2015 and with the brick laying ceremony at SunTrust Park, we mark another milestone in the Braves' construction of its new home starting in 2017. It does not seem like long ago that fans, Atlanta city officials, and the public alike were shocked to learn that the Braves were going to be leaving Turner Field for Cobb County. Questions about how the deal was made, the use of taxpayer dollars, and the actual implementation of many of the stadium's lofty goals/perks were raised and many of them still remain. However, we do know a lot more than we did when the new stadium was announced in 2013. Consider this an update on the progress as well as a brief (and incomplete) look back at how we got here.
A very brief history of how SunTrust Park came to be
Here is the short version: In 2013, the Braves were in talks with the city of Atlanta in regards to renovations to Turner Field that the Braves maintained were necessary for the team to attract fans and remain functional. $150 million was going to be required for structural upkeep and whatnot while $200 million was needed to enhance the fan experience. Given that the city of Atlanta was already footing a hefty bill for the new Falcons stadium, the city balked at the Braves' figures and request. The Braves, in the meantime, reached a deal with Cobb County for a brand new stadium near the Cobb Galleria that would include an extensive entertainment district around the stadium (for those of us that visit Turner Field...there isn't much around in terms or leisure, food, etc) and rather than continue to negotiate for renovations of Turner Field, they opted to no renew their lease and move to Cobb. The proposed cost of the stadium itself was $622 million with Cobb County pitching in $392 million and the Braves contributing at least $230 million and up to $280 million at the team's discretion.
Now there is a lot more to the story regarding the relationship between the team and the city regarding developing the area around Turner Field, transparency (or lack thereof) in regards to how the deal was struck and locked in, the potential pitfalls of the new location in Cobb, and so on but for right now we will just be covering some of the more recent news regarding the stadium and the progress that has been being made.
The stadium itself
Things have escalated rather quickly with the stadium in just the past 8 months or so. Once the stadium was given the go ahead, the Braves didn't waste much time in getting construction underway.
For reference, here is what the construction site looked like in January 2015
And now here is the site on August 19th
Its pretty easy to see that a lot of progress has been made, but we also can't yet really see what we are going to see on Opening Day 2017 beyond the standard stadium shape. Luckily, the Braves have made available both a host of renderings of the stadium as well as a fly through video of, generally, what the stadium and the surrounding area will look like. To take a look at those renderings (although we will reference them a little later, too), click here.
Development in and around SunTrust Park
With the development of the stadium as well as the entertainment district surrounding it, there are a lot of moving parts to what is growing in Cobb right now. Here is some information on what has been going on...
SunTrust Naming Rights
As you are probably aware, SunTrust did win the bidding to get the Braves' new home named after them. We know for sure that the deal is a 25-year partnership and we also know that neither side gave actual financial specifics to the deal beyond saying that the deal was in line with other MLB deals that are in place which would put the deal in the $5 million a year range at minimum. However, there have been reports that the deal is closer to $10 million a year which would put it among the more lucrative naming deals in baseball (with the Mets deal with Citi being the only one more lucrative). It also seems likely that in the area around the stadium, SunTrust will have a very noticeable presence (one would wager that there will at least be an actual SunTrust bank in the area although that has yet to be confirmed).
For renderings of the Omni Hotel, click here
As a part of the year-round entertainment experience that the Braves are going for, one of the first pitches towards that end was at least one hotel that was going to be directly associated with the development. In late April, it was announced that it would be Omni that would be building and controlling that hotel. A 16-floor hotel that should be visible past the outfield stands, the Omni should have 260 rooms, rooftop suites, a restaurant, and a bar that should overlook the park.
Comcast Office Building
For renderings of the Comcast Office Building, click here
The Braves firmed up some need tech infrastructure as well as helped to fill out part of the commercial space around SunTrust Park when it agreed to partner up with Comcast. Comcast will have a building that will house (in theory) close to 1,000 employees and the deal also will have Comcast outfitting the stadium and surrounding complex with high-speed internet connectivity. The exact specifics are a bit hazy, but the agreement is being vaunted as a way for the mixed-use development to be one of the most technologically advanced in the country.
Coors Light Chop House
For renderings of the Coors Light Chop House, click here
One of the sillier things associated with sports is the official brands of specific teams. However, in this particular case it is resulting in the evolution of one of Turner Field's more iconic pieces. The deal, announced in early June, made MillerCoors will be the official beer partner of the Braves and Coors Light specifically will feature in the new Chop House that will be in SunTrust Park. The new Chop House will tentatively have 3 levels including two decks and a field level area in right field.
For renderings of the Roxy Theatre, click here
The original Roxy Theatre was a fixture in the Atlanta music scene on Peachtree Street until it was torn down in 1972 to make way for a hotel, the Westin Peachtree Plaza. A new location was opened in Buckhead which has operated under several different names including the Buckhead Theatre and the Capri. Well, with the opening of the mixed-use development around SunTrust Park, the Roxy will be making its return to the Atlanta area. The venue will be run by Live Nation, the same promoter that puts on Music Midtown, and should play host to around 40 shows a year. This, again, lends itself to Liberty Media's and the Brave's strategy of having the stadium be the centerpiece of a development that will be able to generate revenue all year long.
The First Brick: Where we are now
That brings us (mostly) up to date as to where we are with the construction of SunTrust Park. On August 27th, the ceremonial laying of the first brick happened (although again...it was merely a ceremonial thing as construction as very clearly progressed passed the actual 'first brick' stage). On hand were Hank Aaron and Freddie Freeman among other luminaries. We will close our latest look at SunTrust Park with some images and video from that very ceremony so that we can look back at this when we are looking at a finished SunTrust Park in 2017.
800,000 bricks begins with one - the first brick is laid! pic.twitter.com/vrqm6fWsYv— SunTrust Park (@SunTrustPark) August 27, 2015