Councilwoman Keisha Bottoms named head of AFCRA

Moves comes ahead of potential Turner Field redevelopment

Atlanta City Councilwoman Keisha Lance Bottoms has been named the new executive director of the Atlanta Fulton County Recreation Authority, the entity that will oversee the redevelopment of Turner Field once the Braves leave for Cobb County.

The board — comprised of six Atlanta and three Fulton County representatives — voted to approve Bottoms, an attorney, on Thursday. William K. Whitner, chairman of the AFCRA board, confirmed the news. She replaces long-time executive director Violet Ricks.

Bottoms, a second-term councilwoman and ally of Mayor Kasim Reed, takes the helm at a time the AFCRA could soon make key decisions regarding the future of Turner Field. The AFCRA also maintains public facilities including Philips Arena, Zoo Atlanta and the Olympic cauldron.

“When you look at what’s happening with the city in relationship to the (recreation) authority, it’s an incredible time,” she said.

From a professional standpoint, it was “easy” to make the decision to have a role in that.

Reed has said he’s weighing two options for Turner Field once the Braves depart by the 2017 season. One is to sell the land to a Georgia State University development team that would revamp the land into a sports and student housing campus. The other is to sell the property outright to unnamed private interests, a move that he says would likely eliminate public input.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has previously reported that at least one prospective buyer for the Atlanta Hawks franchise has expressed interest in upgrades to Philips Arena, a move that could involve public funds and require approval from the authority and city council.

Bottoms, as executive director, will not have a vote in any board decisions. She said she will recuse herself from any potential votes that face the city council involving authority-managed properties.

Bottoms will be paid $135,000 for the full-time position, which she begins in June.