Boston's newfound interest in Atlanta knows no bounds. As Beantown preps its bid for the 2024 Olympics, it's been dispatching reporters en masse to the Big Peach, the last U.S. city to host the Summer Games. Now, Boston's NPR affiliate, WBUR, has compiled a multi-part series on the legacy of the Centennial Olympic Games and, like carpet-bagging media before them, has noted that Atlanta — "set amid rolling hills far from an ocean port or a major river" with a "reputation for hospitality" — was "not considered a world-class city" at the time. (Bahstuds!) What has been world-class, however, is the post-Olympics performance of our global-sporting-venue-turned-baseball-park: Turner Field. Atlanta, the station notes, "built a basic, no-frills, sustainable stadium, instead of trying to wow the International Olympic Committee" that avoided the fate of so-called "white elephant" venues around the globe. The reporter points to a study, conducted by Norwegian and Danish researchers, that suggests "no venue built for a major sporting event since has been more effective than Turner Field." Which sounds like a terrific basis for abandoning it.
WBUR zeros in on Turner Field in the three-part series' finale. They quote Braves officials who point to the hefty $140 million the team has invested in The Ted's upkeep since the Olympics left town.
Mike Plant, the head of business operations for the Braves, provides Bostonians with a little context for the team's decision to uproot to Cobb, telling the station: "You know, we've played 18 great years here. We probably would be here a lot longer," Plant told WBUR. "We had another vision to create a mixed-use development, and over a period of years we just couldn't reach an acceptable arrangement with the ownership entity, the rec authority, the city of Atlanta and the county. So we're moving on, moving just 12 miles north of town."
C'est la vie.
The station visits a Braves game to capture the perspectives of fans, and many of them sound sentimental — if not crestfallen — about the prospect of baseball leaving downtown after next season.
"I feel like it's still got life, you know," one fan says of The Ted. "And it's my childhood. I grew up coming to Turner Field to watch the Braves play, and it's tough to see it go."