Mike Plant's Wants & Needs: A World Series Win And A Traffic Plan
The Atlanta Braves' head honcho readily admits the team has “lost our way a little bit.” But he pled with fans to have patience for upcoming seasons, especially as the team readies its more than $400M stadium in time for Opening Day 2017.
“I say that winning the World Series is back on the game plan for us,” Braves president Mike Plant told the audience at our 2016 Cumberland Expansion event this week at the Cobb Galleria. “We'll get back to the promised land pretty quick here.” Mike's comments come in light of criticism from many sports commentators that team owner Liberty Media lacks the desire to pump the dollars or attention into a winning team (also check out op-eds here, here, here, and here for John Schuerholz's views on the team's performance because we're just real estate reporters, not MLB commentators). Mike didn't delve into a strategy that could see the team turn around in seasons beyond this abysmal one, but instead thanked fans for their patience.
Mike was part of a lineup of officials tied to the development of SunTrust Park and The Battery, including Cumberland CID's Malaika Rivers, Cobb Travel & Tourism's Holly Quinlan, Fuqua Development's Jeff Fuqua and JLL's Mike Hall (our moderator who also oversaw The Battery's construction). And much of the talk was rah-rahing the stadium development. “No one has ever built a ballpark in less than 39 months. We're doing it in 30,” Mike says.
Jeff says he had interest on the property that SunTrust Plaza now sits some 15 years ago, but he couldn't generate enough potential activity to pull the trigger. Still, just weeks before the Braves announced their deal, he says Fuqua Development was contemplating offering on the property. “I was thinking if I just tied this property up 15 days before, we'd call it the Braves Fuqua Stadium,” he quipped. Fuqua is helping develop and lease the retail portion of The Battery. “The Braves thing has ignited this entire submarket,” he says.
Malaika says the Braves' move to Cobb has had a halo effect on the entire area. “To say that it has catalyzed growth and development is just an understatement,” she says, with property value growth in Cumberland “nothing less than explosive.” Since the announcement, real estate within the CID's 6.5-mile radius created $670M in value. Back in 2013, properties were typically selling at 25% above Cobb tax assessor's values; today, the trades are hitting 250% above assessment, Malaika says.
Mike also dismissed concerns that Liberty Media was out to “swindle” the county by co-financing the project. “The numbers just completely counter that," he says, adding that SunTrust Park should inject more than $100M into the Cobb school system over time. “From a team standpoint, [the Braves] are creating a destination. It's certainly counter to the thought that a sports facility can't do anything to the local economy. We're just at the starting line here. We're here for 30 years, at the minimum.”
Addressing the ongoing traffic concerns that Braves games could add to an already congested I-75 and I-285 interchange, Mike says the Braves are developing a traffic plan whose details will be released in three installments. “As I remind everyone as we sit here in July, we don't play our first game until next April,” Mike says, chiding those who want a traffic plan “right now.” He added that the final plan will be released by 2017. “For our 81 games a year, we're not going to ruin your life.”