How Will Braves’ Move Affect Atlanta Businesses?

Dan Raby/WABE

City officials and local businesses are still trying to estimate what the economic impact might be from the Atlanta Braves moving to Cobb County, with opinions varying wildly.

Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau President William Pate said he was shocked when he received a phone call Monday morning from the Braves informing him of their decision to relocate, but he downplayed the impact their move will have on the city’s tourism industry.  

“They’re not moving to Birmingham,” Pate said. “They’re moving 10 miles up the road. And when I look at our business, the hospitality business, and the effect on the hospitality business, while I think there will be some impact, I don’t believe the impact will be significant.”As heard on the radio

The Braves announced publicly on Monday morning plans to leave Turner Field and Atlanta, their home for nearly 50 years, for a $672 million new stadium near the intersection of Interstate 75 and I-285 in Cobb County. The stadium will be partially funded by tax-payer money, though the Braves disputed reports of a $450 million public investment, calling that number “erroneous.”

“When the final deal points are reached, they will be shared with the public and the media,” the Braves said in a statement Wednesday.          

An impact study conducted by the Braves said the team brings about 110,000 nightly hotel room rentals to the metro-Atlanta area each year, and Pate estimates about 75,000 of those are within Atlanta city limits.

He said Atlanta hotels will likely see their Braves-related stays cut by 20 percent after the team’s move, “which is a medium-sized convention in the city. Our business, in whole, is growing at a faster rate, so we, over the next three years, will be able to absorb that loss.”

Pate said he thinks families will continue to choose Atlanta hotels over those in the suburbs because of their proximity to dining and other attractions, like the World of Coke and the aquarium.  

“I believe the preponderance of people who come here have children. They want to do things with their kids on Saturday,” Pate said. “Those things are in downtown, Midtown and Buckhead. I think they’ll continue to want to stay in those areas.”

However, Pate said he hasn’t spoken with any of the three hotels near Turner Field, and he insists the majority of game-goers don’t stay at those locations.

Two of the hotels declined to comment for this story, and the third did not return calls before airtime.

Kevin Gunter is general manger of Bullpen Rib House, which is located just across the street from Turner on Pollard Boulevard. It’s been there for 17 years.  

“It’s definitely going to hurt, and we just don’t think it’s a good move,” Gunter said.

Gunter estimates 40 percent of Bullpen’s annual business comes in on days the Braves play at home, though he says local patrons could sustain it if the Braves do decide to relocate. As for Mayor Kasim Reed’s plan to tear down Turner Field and build new, Gunter is hesitant to jump on board.

“I don’t know what else they can use this area for down here,” pointing to neighborhoods like Pittsburgh, Mechanicsville and Somerville, areas that were long promised redevelopment thanks to the presence of Turner Field, something that never came to fruition. “There are already a lot of abandoned homes and businesses that are just vacant.”

Reed promised a “significant announcement” would be made as to future plans for the area.

As for Gunter, he hopes a deal can still be worked out to keep the Braves in Atlanta.

The Braves say the Cobb County ballpark will open for the 2017 season.