The Braves New Stadium Plans

Proactive planning will pay big dvidends on the field

The Arguments surrounding the location, cost and even a need for a new Braves stadium will be hotly debated long and hard. What can’t be debated in my mind is the fact that this new stadium plan will help the Braves win championships compared to staying at Turner Field. Follow the Money!

Consistently winning baseball organizations have 1 of 2 things; Great front office performance or huge payrolls. World Series Champs usually have both. Thanks to the salary caps in the NBA, NHL and NFL…more than any other sport…baseball is about money. If the Braves want to compete with the big boys and win World Series…a bigger payroll would be a huge asset and the Braves hope this new stadium will produce new revenue streams, increase attendance allowing bigger payrolls for decades to come. The Braves would do well to use that money on a top of the rotation pitcher or 2.

The Braves fan base continues to move further from Turner Field and consequently attendance has declined. The Braves have gone from 3.46 million in 1997 when they opened Turner Field to 2.5 million last year. That directly affects the Braves payroll that was 16th in baseball in 2013 while attendance was 13th best in baseball.

Teams winning the World Series the past 5 years have all been in the top 10 in payroll at the end of the season usually spending huge dollars on top of the rotation aces.

World Series Champ/Payroll/Aces and Millions

2013 Red Sox 4th)$150 Million Lester $11.6, Lackey $16, Peavy $16

2012 Giants(8th) $118 Million Lincecum $22, $20 Zito, Cain $21

2011 Cardinals(10th) $105 Million Carpenter $14, Lohse $12, Wainright $7

2010 Giants (10th) $97 Million Lincecum $9, Cain $5, Zito $18.5

2009 Yankees (1st) $201 Million Sabathia $14, Burnett 16.5, Pettitte $16

The Braves need to up their payroll in 2014 and need to spend some of that on a top of the rotation guy. If that’s a trade for a player like Rays Cy Young winner David Price (the Rays will ask Christian Bethancourt, Mike Minor and Alex Wood) it will cost prospects and a new contract for Price in the $18-25 million a year neighborhood. They need more revenue streams to compete at the top level and that’s where this new stadium comes in.

The Braves announced they will build a new stadium in the Cobb County/Cumberland Mall area at the intersection of 75 and 285 North in time for the 2017 season. They will also build an entertainment complex nearby. Why a new stadium? Here’s what the Braves said in their press release.

The reason for moving is simple. The current location has certain issues that are insurmountable and will only become more problematic over the years. These fundamental issues involve how you, our fans, access Turner Field. There is a lack of consistent mass transportation, a lack of sufficient parking and a lack of direct access to interstates. Furthermore, the Braves do not have control over the development of our immediate surroundings.

Our new location will give us the opportunity to develop the surrounding area of the new ballpark, transforming it into a mixed use, 365-day destination and creating an enhanced atmosphere for our fans during Braves games. There also will be significantly increased access to the site, enhanced parking opportunities, and, generally, easier access to and from major roadways with a variety of other transportation options.

This will allow the Braves more revenue streams and hopefully increase attendance by moving closer to their fan base. Here is a link to a map of where Braves ticket buyers live.

This is a link to homeofthebraves.com/overview/#prettyPhoto

As you can see the bulk of the fans live near the new stadium site. The trend in all sports points towards fans that are less attached emotionally to going to games preferring to stay home and watch on HDTV in the comfort of home. The days of “if you win they will come” are over. See the Tampa Bay Rays. They get huge TV ratings and interest but the stadium location is so far from the ticket buyers and population GROWTH. Their attendance is among the worst in baseball despite making the playoffs four of the last 6 years. Teams must do everything possible to make it easy and enjoyable for fans to attend games with easy access and modern conveniences at the top of the list. The fact that baseball’s fan base is getting older makes it even more important for teams to cater to something other than just baseball…like entertainment districts…to attract a cross section of fans.

Clearly this is an emotional issue for fans who have gotten used to seeing the Braves near downtown. But when you take the emotions out of the equation and look strictly at the numbers…demographics, geographic and payroll numbers it truly points towards a new location and a new payroll philosophy. If you want the Braves to win championships a move to the Burbs may be their best chance for consistent long term success.