Editor’s note: This is part of a continuing series reviewing Major League Baseball stadiums and desperate plea for its fans not to visit all of them. You really do have more important things to do with your life.
This is the only review of a Major League Baseball stadium on my tour that no longer exists.
It’s a pity Turner Field no longer hosts MLB games. The stadium — so named after the rambunctious cable TV cowboy/Jane Fonda sugar daddy/“I coulda been the liberal version of President Trump, so why didn’t I think of insulting everyone on Twitter first, carnsarnit?” — is not a bad place to catch a game.
But since it’s not good enough for the Atlanta Braves, screw you, Dale. It’s down to No. 28.
A couple of years ago, the Braves moved north of town to something called SunTrust Field. I have no plans to go inside the place, even though I drove past it on the way to better baseball cities in the Northeast.
Let’s backtrack a bit and talk politics and race, neither of which I claim to be an expert in. Whenever a team seeks a shiny new stadium, it often asks the locals to pony up by selling bonds. There is some tax risk involved with bonds, but as the counter argument the owner of the team will cite movie screenplays. “Field of Dreams” is used a lot — “If you build it, they will come.”
The implied hint: If you don’t build it for us, we will go.
And the city leaders break out the checkbook. Schools? Cops? Ah hell. Baseball. How many zeroes are in billion?
CNN founder Ted Turner wanted a new home for his team. In the 1990s, the Braves played in one of those cookie-cutter donut-shaped multipurpose stadiums such as the one in Oakland. He managed to finagle Turner Field out of gullible residents by also playing a major role in landing the Olympics to the South. Build the stadium for the Olympics, retrofit it for baseball afterwards.
No small feat. Think of all the cities in the United States that just seem suitable for the Olympics — LA, NYC, Chicago. Where does Atlanta fit in that list? If you reply with, Atlanta doesn’t fit. What the hell were they thinking? You would be right. Los Angeles may be rife with murder, but at least my hometown managed to keep our Summer Olympics terrorism-free.
“The Ted” wasn’t built in a particularly nice neighborhood, but many stadiums aren’t. I went to see the Braves play the Dodgers in a day game, which I suppose was for the best. Having said that, the people I met on the way to the stadium were smiling and pleasant. The stadium exterior featured that all-too-common retro look that the deep South never had in the first place. Let’s be real. Retro in the deep South wouldn’t feature facades hanging from the upper deck as much as it would feature Jim Crow drinking fountains.
Anyway, the stadium was a little plain when I went. I believe it was because they were packing for the move to SunTrust that day. The place did have its own Waffle House, and as a road traveler I appreciate 24-hour slopholes. The souvenir shop also peddled Negro League merchandise. In other words, there is at least a small part of Atlanta that embraces multiculturalism.
Only it begs the question: Why leave a place where multiculturalism needs to be revered?
Anyone who knows me will tell you I am the furthest thing from a social justice warrior, but I genuinely appreciate history and humanity’s continuing struggle to be nicer, more accepting of each other. As shrill as “being woke” can seem, it is at least a desperate attempt to improve human decency. Moving to SunTrust Field or whatever the hell it’s called is an affront to me for many reasons — no matter how many bells and whistles the newer digs has.
1) The Ted has history. It not just hosted the World Series. It was the epicenter for the Summer Olympics. That’s not good enough?
2) The Atlanta Black Crackers of the Negro Leagues didn’t play in Cumberland, Ga. So you’re willing to sell T-shirts celebrating Atlanta’s baseball heritage, but not play there?
3) Braves management at the time of the move claimed Turner Field needed $350 million in upgrades. It sounds like a lot of money, until you realize how much teams pay their players in the first place.
4) If the Braves needed three stadiums to maximize revenue streams in less than 25 years, the only logical conclusion to draw is Atlanta must be a lousy baseball town.
To these jaundiced eyes, leaving a perfectly functional and well-kept 20-year old stadium for the suburbs smelled like the Braves said “we swiped millions from Atlanta to build this place, but let’s get away from the minorities.” And that’s some bullshit.
If I ever see baseball in Atlanta again, it will be a fluke. Visiting a friend who wants to catch a game. Stuff like that.
But should you or I travel to the South specifically to see this new stadium and cross it off a bucket list? Hell no.