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Atlanta Braves to leave Turner Field for new Cobb County stadium

Turner Field has been the home of the Braves since 1997, but the team announced Monday that they will be building a new stadium in Cobb County and move there for the start of the 2017 season. (Reuters)

Turner Field has been the home of the Braves since 1997, but the team announced Monday that they will be building a new stadium in Cobb County and move there for the start of the 2017 season. (Reuters)

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The Atlanta Braves announced plans Monday for a new stadium in Cobb County, which will see the team leave the downtown area for the first time since the franchise moved to the city in 1966.

The team doesn't own Turner Field, which it said is in need of "hundreds of millions of dollars of repairs", and its lease with the downtown venue expires after the 2016 season.

With that in mind, the Braves made public their plans for a $672 million, state-of-the-art facility in Cobb County near the intersection of I-75 and I-285 in the Cobb Galleria and Cumberland Mall area. The team plans to have the stadium ready for the 2017 season.

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed said the city was unwilling to put up the hundreds of millions in tax dollars needed to keep the Braves downtown.

"It is my understanding that our neighbor, Cobb County, made a strong offer of $450 million in public support to the Braves, and we are simply unwilling to match that with taxpayer dollars," he said in a statement.

Turner Field, the Braves' home since 1997, was built prior to the 1996 Olympics to host events like the opening and closing ceremonies, as well as track and field. The Braves played previously at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium before it was demolished.

"Unfortunately that massive investment (to upgrade Turner Field) would not do anything to improve access or the fan experience," Braves executive John Schuerholz said in a video message on the project. "These are issues we simply cannot overcome."

Schuerholz confirmed the area surrounding the stadium will be developed into a mixed-use development. In addition to moving from downtown, the stadium will be a challenging rush-hour trip for Gwinnett County fans through I-285 traffic.

That said, Schuerholz spoke highly of the new location.

"This facility will be one of the most magnificent in all of baseball … in addition that, we wanted to find a location that was great for our fans and makes getting to and from the stadium much easier, and provides a first-rate game experience in and around the stadium," Schuerholz said.

A traffic-laden drive to the Cobb site also could drive more Gwinnett area fans to Coolray Field for the Gwinnett Braves, Atlanta's Class AAA affiliate in Lawrenceville.

More information on the project is available at www.homeofthebraves.com.