Here we go. Yet another post NOT about food – unless I can somehow tie in stadium hot dogs, Cracker Jacks and beer. Ever since Monday’s shocking announcement that the Braves are looking to leave Turner Field for greener pastures north of town, I’ve been obsessed. I’ve read every article under the sun, I’ve participated in angry rants on Facebook and I’ve certainly felt the five steps of grief (in a short span of 3 days). Here’s a look inside my brain through each of the steps:
What??? Surely this can’t be true. I bet it’s a bargaining chip. They’re just trying to get the city of Atlanta to pony up more money. They’re going to stay at Turner Field.
Those greedy bastards! Stupid Liberty Media (the owner of the Braves) – they don’t care about this city, all they care about is money. How could the mayor just let the Braves go? I guess there weren’t any kickbacks for him and his cronies. Why has Atlanta been so stupid historically with development? What about the history? How can a not even 20-year-old multi-million dollar stadium already be obsolete – disposable? This is an outrage!
What can we do to save Turner Field and keep the Braves here? If only the city had fulfilled its promises to redevelop the space around the stadium! If only they hadn’t given kickbacks to corrupt neighborhood “leaders” who squandered the money and kept large pockets of the stadium neighborhoods in poverty. Perhaps we can convince them to stay and invest here? Maybe it’s not too late!
Oh, it’s all hopeless. The Braves will move away and a perfectly good stadium will sit empty and covered in kudzu. All the progress the stadium neighborhoods have made over the years will vanish. It will be a crime-ridden wasteland. Miles and miles of asphalt in a “bad part of town” – yeah, that’s a developer’s dream. Kasim Reed is lying through his teeth. Our property values are going to plummet. All hope is lost! Asheville looks nice.
OK, Braves – if that’s how you want it to be, fine. Go ahead and see if your preferred northern suburban fans turn out for you. Good luck figuring out how to lessen the traffic on I-285 on game day. Have fun with that! Maybe our neighborhoods will be better off without you.
Throughout my stages of grief, I’m continually asking myself: why do I care so much? It’s just a baseball team. The world will not end if the Atlanta Braves never play another game here or in Cobb County. I guess I care because the team was/is part of my community – and hence my identity. For 12 years, I lived just a few blocks from the stadium (now we live just a tiny bit further down the road). I could hear all the cheers, we walked to games, experienced the excitement of opening day and felt the crushing blow of their post-season defeats. I learned how to navigate game day traffic. The boom of Friday night fireworks never caught me off guard. As I became a mother and my boys embraced the sport of baseball, the Braves became even more a part of my life. My 8-year-old couldn’t be a bigger fan and he is devastated. With sweeping arm motions, the poor child said yesterday, “If they blow up Turner Field, it’s like all those memories will just go KABOOM!” And he’s right.
In spite of the traffic, the congestion, the crime that inevitably comes around when 40,000 people are gathered together, the Braves are a part of the fabric of these intown neighborhoods. And yes, the stadium neighborhoods have been screwed over in big ways going back to 1965 when under the pretense of “urban renewal” the city built the Braves’ first home – Atlanta Fulton County Stadium. But, they’ve also benefited in some ways and could benefit even more if the city would actually DO something to renovate the vacant properties they own, kick out slumlords and invest in the area’s future. Just a few blocks from Turner Field are gorgeous mid-century storefronts – boarded up and empty. The Braves want themed development around the stadium? There is so much potential sitting right there. Want someone to blame? Look at City Hall, look at corrupt neighborhood leaders who would prefer to keep people in poverty so they retain their power, look at the Braves who say that their perfectly fine modern stadium needs $150 million in improvements, look at greedy businessmen and politicians who pledge tax dollars without even asking their constituents. There is plenty of blame to go around.
Hopefully by writing this I can make my peace and move on. Hopefully I can stop obsessing and getting my feelings hurt when people call my neighborhood crime-ridden, dirty and unsafe. I just know that I will never feel the same way about the Braves. When I sit in the stands for the next
two three seasons (and yes, I will still go because I have a true Braves fan for a son),
I’ll feel a little empty as I look out over the skyline and think about what
could have been. Even if the city is able to broker a deal for the Braves to
stay, I’ll still feel a little empty.
My feelings are hurt. We do our best to attend several games a year. We sit in the cheap seats and don’t spend a lot of money on food and “fan experiences.” We’re there to watch the baseball. My son doesn’t even want to get out of his seat and go to the bathroom for fear he’ll miss something. Isn’t that why we’re all crammed into a giant stadium in the blazing sun or under the blaring lights: to watch men play baseball? With their heat map of ticket buyers and all their metrics on who spends money and how much, the Braves are basically saying they don’t care about fans like us. We’re from the Southside and we’re not rich. They’d prefer a smaller stadium where they can charge more for seats and tack on restaurants and themed experiences to suck more money out of people. Going to a game will be an elite experience. What happened to the love of the game?
So for now, I’m trudging through the “acceptance” phase. What will be will be. Maybe by opening day I’ll get over my melancholy. Or maybe I just need to find a college or minor league team to embrace.
How do you feel? If you could care less, need to vent, need a virtual hug, or think a new stadium is just what the Braves need, feel free to comment here. And I promise one of these days, I’ll get back to food!