Random thoughts from cocktail napkins...
The Cobb County Crackers? Steven Jackson stealing money & a salute to Vets...
So I wake up Monday morning and I've got a ton of text messages and e-mails and tweets about the Braves moving to Cobb County. My first reaction was, is this a joke?
Obviously the suits down at Turner Field saw The City of Atlanta bending over backwards to get the new Falcons Stadium built and got their panties in a twist. They want the city to cough up more parking spaces and maybe some help with capital improvements. That was my first reaction. Their gripes about inefficient mass transit and traffic are certainly legitimate. But to leave a 17 year old stadium because it needs better plumbing? I can't buy that. It has to be a ploy, threaten to move out in the time honored tradition of municipal extortion. But based on the lengths the Braves went to Monday give all indications it's not a ruse, it's a done deal to move to Cobb County. And after my initial freaking out I get it. The Braves will be better serving their true fan base in the northern suburbs, for them a Cobb Ballpark is a dream come true.
We all know driving to Turner Field sucks. From the brutal traffic on the connector to not having enough parking spaces to the asinine way the APD funnels you out after the game, it can be a nightmare.
The fact that MARTA never ran to Turner Field still baffles me. I had heard stories that crooked city (see Bill Campbell), state and MARTA officials lined their pockets with bribes from the parking lot companies to prevent a Turner Field stop. I've heard wives' tales that there are secret tunnels already built to facilitate a Turner Field rail spur if the city wanted to do it...everybody has a conspiracy theory on how this got so screwed up.
Even if you had a Turner Field MARTA station, would Braves fans living in the northern suburbs use it? To some suburbanites mass transit is as appealing as the Ebola virus. Many transplants to metro Atlanta understand mass transit and are not frightened by bums and panhandlers. They're beef (like mine) is that MARTA doesn't go where you need it to go. And for those who prefer the sanctuary of gated communities, they don't want MARTA coming into their neighborhood let alone ever using it (other than the occasional trip to the airport).
So the Braves say they're gone build a $675 Million stadium at 285 and I-75, awesome! Because there's never any traffic issues there? $450 Million will come from Cobb County.
But according to Tim Tucker's article the Braves do not have any agreement in place with Cobb County. When the deal gets done will Tea Party reactionaries sign off on tax payer money for a stadium in their backyard? Most likely not. So where's the money coming from? Don't laugh but Cobb officials could use a "hotel tax" to fund the lion's share of the new stadium project. But who stays in Cobb County? Could you really generate enough revenue through a hotel tax? WSB's Justin Farmer spoke with Mayor Reed Monday afternoon and reported that the potential financial package regarding the new stadium won't go before The Cobb County Commission until November 26. $450 Million from a county not widely regarded as tax and spend...or even just spend. And Cobb taxpayers won’t likely have a say in this matter since it won’t be a part of any county wide referendum and will be handled by the county commission...
The Braves provided the media with a map of metro Atlanta that shows its ticket paying customer base is clearly in the northern suburbs. I get what a hassle it is for most Braves fans of making it through the downtown connector in time for a 7:05 first pitch. But does anyone really think traffic would be any better at I-75 and I-285 at say 5-7 on a weekday afternoon? Traffic on the top end perimeter is bad enough at 2:30 on a Thursday or Friday.
My biggest beef on the radio Monday was its bad for the city of Atlanta. Everywhere else in the country teams are moving downtown not out to the suburbs. In Denver, Seattle and Sand Diego the downtown ballpark is the anchor for economic growth. The problem here in Atlanta was a lack of vision that predates The Olympics. The Georgia Dome and Turner Field should have been built where Atlantic Station sits.
And when the sight for the Olympic Stadium that would later become Turner Field was selected how was a MARTA line not dedicated to it?
Atlanta's motto during the turbulent years of The Civil Rights Movement was "The City too busy to hate". Now looking back it should have been "The City too busy to plan".
So we've got a baseball team that hasn't won a division series in 12 years heading out to the 'burbs for a new park and a football team that's won 1 playoff game in 9 years getting a new $1.2 Billion stadium downtown.
This Falcons season is now completely off the rails. Looking at the remaining 7 games it's hard to project many wins. Can this team go on the road with no running game and an injury depleted defense and win in Tampa or Toronto for the Bills game? Back in the summer those were looking like the "easy" games. This team could very easily finish 3-13. All the good will with many of Atlanta's band wagon jumping fans from last year's NFC Championship game goes right out the window.
The team will continue to do their best, nobody's quitting. As Dirk Koetter told us last week on the radio, whether these guys want to play for the Falcons or another team, that eye in the sky doesn't lie, anyone who wants to keep earning a paycheck in the league will not want to be exposed by loafing on game tape.
This team just isn't very good. Thomas Dimitroff and Mike Smith thought the new faces on the offensive line would be more physical. The truth is the Falcons lost continuity and experience and both the running game and pass protection has suffered. The defense which was solid if not spectacular has un-drafted free agents starting. Roddy is still not 100% and now Tony can’t get open.
Steven Jackson is a bust. Money wasted on the 30 year old back should have been spent on Cliff Avril to bring some heat opposite Osi Umenyiora. Or the Falcons should have just held on to John Abraham. Mike Nolan is good but he's not a miracle worker. Dimitroff hasn't drafted an impact defensive end or linebacker in 5 years. And yes it's fair to call Jackson a bust. You have to be on the field contributing. He has not. He cannot shed the first tackler and with this offensive line that tackler is almost always in the backfield. It was a wasteful move. John Lynch said it on FOX Sunday, every time he does a Falcons game he wonders why Jason Snelling doesn't get more touches.
And with Monday being Veterans Day...thanks to all our Veterans out there. I was watching Band of Brothers and The Pacific over the weekend on HBO and I was thinking just how much tougher those guys were. Live through a Depression, fight for 4 years come back home and get right back to work. No bitching or bellyaching. Tom Brokaw was right, that was truly America's Greatest Generation.
So hats off to everyone who has served or is proudly serving. Including my Uncle Nick who will be telling Vietnam stories to Hooters waitresses and sponging the longest free lunch this week in West Palm Beach. My Dad never told war stories, it was only after he died at age 51 that I heard of his 'Nam exploits from his buddies in The Marines.
Maybe you still do it, but hopefully we get back to thanking servicemen and women when we run into them at airports like we did after the 9/11 attacks...think of all the petty nonsense we complain about and then think of the sacrifices those guys make. It really is humbling.