Turner Field may have played host to its final Major League Baseball game, but the stadium lives on as a functional sports facility. In a testament to sustainability, the 20-year-old stadium, originally built for the 1996 Summer Olympics before it was converted to a ballpark for the Atlanta Braves, will now be turned into a college football venue for Georgia State University.
Walter Banks posed for pictures, caught up with old friends and turned a bit wistful as he remembered all the good times as an Atlanta Braves usher. It was time to say goodbye. Again. The Braves played their final game at Turner Field on Sunday, ending a run that lasted a mere 20 seasons with a 1-0 victory over the Detroit Tigers. They’ll be moving to a new stadium in the suburbs next season.
There’s a strange vibe at Turner Field these days that has nothing to do with the baseball-like product that the Braves are playing. The team’s touting a countdown of the final days at its perfectly serviceable stadium while pumping up the hope and promise of next year’s home, the still-unfinished SunTrust Park, and it’s … unsettling. The most charitable view is that it’s like a high school senior walking through the halls crowing how much more awesome next year’s gonna be at college. At its worst, it’s the awkward tone-deafness of a guy singing the praises of his new girlfriend while the old one’s still in the apartment they shared for years. Either way, the Turner Field story isn’t so much a story of what was, but what could have been.
As he exited Major League Baseball in 2014, former commissioner Bud Selig proudly pointed to the 20 new ballparks that opened during his 22-year tenure as a major part of his legacy. He probably figured they would last quite a bit longer, though. As one team bids farewell to a stadium only two decades old, another facility in the same age range is on the endangered list and a third one — younger than the other two — could be abandoned as well. At this rate, much of Selig’s ballpark legacy could be obliterated in a matter of years.
The bases are loaded, and David Ortiz spits into his hands, claps twice, and digs in against the hated Yankees. New York left fielder Brett Gardner inches back to the warning track. Not 10 feet behind him, Christian Elias, the Green Monster scoreboard operator, peers over Gardner’s shoulder. Elias is actually in the spot where the left fielder would be standing in most every ballpark but Fenway Park. For a quarter of a century, he has had the best seat in the house. He has operated the scoreboard for more than 1,800 games.
The Texas Rangers unveiled expanded plans for its Texas Live! dining and retail development next to Globe Life Park today and said construction would begin in November. At an afternoon press conference, officials from the Rangers and The Cordish Companies, the primary developer, said new plans would double the size of dining and entertainment space and include a 300-room convention hotel and 35,000-square-foot meeting/convention facility in the first phase of development.
If voters approve a new stadium for the Texas Rangers, the existing ballpark will be preserved and repurposed rather than demolished, according to the mayor and the team. “The ballpark will not be bulldozed,” said Arlington Mayor Jeff Williams during an appearance on Sunday’s Inside Texas Politics. The future of Globe Life Park was never fully known until this morning when the Rangers and the city made the announcement on WFAA’s political program.
The Angels demanded that the city of Anaheim order additional study of a large-scale development planned for a site adjacent to Angel Stadium. The demand, contained in the second hostile letter from Angels lawyers to the city within two weeks, comes as the team and city have revived talks on a lease that would extend the Angels’ tenure at the city-owned stadium. Last week, the Anaheim Planning Commission, over the Angels’ objections, unanimously endorsed a 15-acre complex of shops, restaurants, offices, residences and a hotel on the site next to Angel Stadium.
Somewhere, Charles Comiskey is rolling over in his grave. The Chicago White Sox announced that their ballpark will change its name to Guaranteed Rate Field. The team signed a 13-year naming rights deal with Guaranteed Rate, a retail mortgage lender. Financial terms were not disclosed.The company replaces U.S. Cellular as the ballpark’s naming rights holder. The South Side ballpark was known as U.S. Cellular Field from 2003 to 2016.
On Monday, less than two weeks after The Times first reported the Angels and the city of Anaheim had revived talks on a new stadium lease, the team lost a bid to prevent a large-scale development adjacent to the parking lot controlled by the team. The Anaheim Planning Commission dismissed the Angels’ objections and unanimously voted in favor of a 15-acre complex of shops, restaurants, offices, residences and a hotel. The Anaheim City Council has the final say on the project and is expected to vote on it within the next two months.