Continuing the Georgia State football A-to-Z series:
T is for Turner Field
What to make of the ongoing negotiations between Georgia State and the Fulton County Recreation Authority to purchase Turner Field?
The discussions to purchase the Braves home have surpassed six months and we have reported could last into the fall.
It likely won’t matter how long the discussions last because only when the Braves’ season ends can Georgia State go to work either retrofitting the 20-year complex into a football stadium or demolish and build anew.
So, the sides have between now and the home finale on Oct. 2 against the Tigers.
What happens next will be the most interest shown in Georgia State athletics since R.J. Hunter’s 3-pointer knocked Baylor out of the NCAA tournament.
Personally, I can see why some want Turner Field to be retro-fitted into a football stadium. It’s a known commodity. It’s pretty. It’s got great views of the campus and the Atlanta skyline. Athletic director Charlie Cobb and President Mark Becker have discussed both options. They seem to be leaning toward the retro-fit.
My own two cents: The building is 20 years old, with 20-year-old fixtures, 20-year-old plumbing, 20-year-old concrete, 20-year-old everything. I would imagine that the maintenance costs on the gigantic building would be massive, especially for an athletics department whose main source of revenue is student fees, and not tickets sold, merchandise sold, TV rights or corporate sponsors. There’s also the cost of destroying whatever parts need to be destroyed and then doing the construction to make a football stadium.
Those costs could be offset should Turner Field be converted into a stadium/retail/education center, which would involve partners and Georgia State in paying the expenses. And it’s almost a certainty that the deep-pocketed university — not athletics — will foot the bill for the maintenance costs.
It would seem prudent to at least consider building a new, much smaller stadium on the footprint of Turner Field, with new everything. MLS stadiums, a good comparison for size and capacity for Georgia State’s needs, have been built for as little as $35 million, though that was 17 years ago.
It will be interesting to see if Georgia State can make the necessary changes to Turner Field in an attempt to play at least one home game in 2017 in Turner Field, just to whet folks’ appetite. As many of you know, the university doesn’t do anything quickly (negotiations that I was originally told were going to last a month are ongoing, as but one of what is a long list of examples).
Though there is a gag order on anyone discussing Georgia State, I wouldn’t be surprised (a bad word to use, but this is a blog, not a news story) to see the athletics department will pursue an opportunity to play at least one game at Turner Field next year, and possibly more.