By Tracey Long
After taking a few days to digest the news of our beloved Atlanta Braves moving 12 miles north to Cobb County, many things have become apparent to me. The biggest one is that things are not always what they seem. I live in Summerhill, the small, forgotten neighborhood where the Atlanta Braves reside, and I’m proud to have called this my home since 2002. I also love my Major League baseball neighbors, the Atlanta Braves. As neighbors go, the Braves have been very good to us over the years, supporting our efforts to improve our community.
My neighborhood has been promised growth and development by the city for many years. After the Olympic Committee chose Atlanta as the site for the 1996 Olympic Games, they donated the stadium at the conclusion of the games, and the Braves had a new home. The promises of post-1996 revitalization were a series of empty promises—not only for our neighborhood, but for the Braves organization as well.
I must admit, this news is devastating to me and others in surrounding stadium neighborhoods. We had bought into the idea of development the city has voiced to us over the last several years. The Atlanta Braves were to be the anchor around which to build, creating a mixed-use shopping, dining, and entertainment district. Many articles have been published and are available in the Atlanta Journal Constitution (AJC) detailing these development plans.
I can’t say I blame the Braves. They have been great neighbors to all of us, but they got tired of seeing the outside of the Turner Field gates remain in the very same condition as the day after the Centennial Olympics closing ceremonies on August 4, 1996. They are tired of the empty promises and, frankly, so are we as citizens, taxpayers, and residents of all the stadium neighborhoods.
Mayor Reed wants us to believe he has grand plans for the 60-acre tract of land after the Braves leave, but why should we believe him? The city couldn’t manage to develop this area for the storied baseball franchise Atlanta Braves with millions of dollars of annual revenue on the line for decades to come. Why should we believe the city will develop this area once the Braves leave?
As a lifelong baseball fan and a resident of the Summerhill neighborhood, where so much baseball history has taken place, the move of the Braves to Cobb County has truly given me pause. Beginning in 1871 as the Boston Red Stockings in Boston, Massachusetts, the Atlanta Braves are the oldest continuously playing team of all sports teams in North America. Where will all this history go? Doesn’t that mean anything to our politicians and leaders? With the Braves in Cobb County, a father won’t be able to show his son the exact spot where Hank Aaron hit his 715th homerun in 1974; the place where we finally clinched the World Series in 1995 against the Cleveland Indians at the old park with a spectacular eight-inning performance by legend Tom Glavine; where Chipper Jones, one of the greatest switch hitters and third basemen in the history of baseball, played his entire career; or where we have won 14 consecutive division series titles and have had many of the greatest ball players of all time run the bases.
I revere history, and, if you listen closely you can still hear the crowds cheering for Hank, 39 years ago, after the ball shot into the night on April 8, 1974. There is much more at play here than money—there is history. And Mr. Mayor, history like this can’t be replaced or moved. It is the fiber of who we are as a city.
Tracey Long has been a resident of Summerhill for 11 years and is a member of The Grant Park Conservancy.
755 Hank Aaron Drive
By Tracey Long