THE BLOG
11/13/2013 10:55 am ET Updated Jan 23, 2014

Atlanta Sports: A Moveable Feast

Between 1966 and 1972, the city of Atlanta added teams for all four of the major professional leagues. Some have left (like The Flames and the subsequently The Thrashers) and other have moved from one neighborhood to another (The Falcons) but, in that 6 year span, two areas of Atlanta developed into sports and entertainment destinations. With the pending move of The Braves at the conclusion of the 2016 season, that would be the final nail in the coffin for one of those neighborhoods.

At a certain point, there becomes a pseudo reverse gentrification of things like sports teams. Move it out to a cleaned up neighborhood, make the argument that it is the "heartland" of a fan base, make some absurd assertions about economic impact numbers ranging in the gazillions. A lot of these things are true, a lot of them are frankly hard truths that people don't want to hear. But I am born and raised in the city here, not out in the burbs, so a lot of that really doesn't matter to me. There is a nostalgic part of me that wants The Braves to always stay in the same neighborhood where they first played. Where Hank Aaron broke the home run record, where they won The World Series. But I am not naive enough to subscribe to the notion that moving them 30 minutes up the road to the other end of the perimeter is like moving them to Mars.

I have been through that. Having been an Atlanta Thrashers seasons ticket holder from the first day to the last, having them leaving hurt. And it hurt a lot. Moving The Braves to a place where the biggest challenge would be to figure out how they will get public transportation out there (because let's be honest, my friends and I are rarely sober enough to rationalize driving to and from a sporting event) seems far less painful.

What's a far harder pill for me to swallow is the lasting effects on the neighborhood where Turner Field lives. Fulton County Stadium was there and when it was torn down, there was a lasting promise of the new stadium to breathe life into the surrounding area. With The Braves leaving, we leave that community out in the cold. They have tailored their business around the team, they have even changed their real estate to accommodate it, parking lots typically don't have the most curb appeal. I believe that there is an obligation that we consider that, and not let that be just incidental collateral damage.

Is this deal to move them actually going to be finalized? I have no clue. There are drifting statements about how contracts aren't signed, how the real estate is still being negotiated, and how if the deal falls through how The Ted will still be there. Does that mean the deal isn't in the bag? No, but it surely does have a slight smell of being an elaborate negotiating tactic.

I really don't want to see the team move out of downtown, but I am also realistic enough to not view it as the end of the world.