Georgia State, partners reach deal to buy Turner Field for $30 million

Georgia State University and its development partners have agreed to a deal to purchase Turner Field, the 20-year-old former Olympic stadium and soon-to-be former home of the Atlanta Braves.

The downtown university and real estate partners Carter and Oakwood Development plan to convert the Ted into a new football stadium for the Panthers and transform surrounding parking lots into a mixed-use community and southern extension of Georgia State’s campus.

The deal is worth $30 million and should close by the end of the year.

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, Georgia State President Mark Becker, Carter President Scott Taylor and Atlanta Fulton County Recreation Authority chief Keisha Lance Bottoms made the formal deal official at a press conference this morning, bringing a measure of certainty to an area clouded by the Braves’ decision nearly three years ago to leave after this season for a new ballpark in Cobb County.

Turner Field may no longer be a baseball stadium, but it will still be a field of dreams,” Reed said.

ExploreGovernor sends message: don’t expect state help

The mayor said the area will say goodbye to “asphalt eyesores” and hello to a walkable district with shops and amenities. He also said the area could eventually see greater MARTA bus service and streetcars to the Atlanta Beltline, if city voters in November approve a half-penny sales tax to fund an expansion of MARTA.

The Braves’ move threatened to create a vacuum near the Downtown Connector, one of the South’s busiest arteries, leaving local leaders scrambling to find a new buyer ahead of the team’s exit.

Reed said this deal fulfills a promise he made when Braves announced their departure to create a vibrant community.

The development plan, which also would include student housing, apartments, single-family homes, classroom space, a grocery store and a Panthers baseball field, would rank among the largest redevelopment projects in the city south of I-20 in recent memory.

In May 2014, the Georgia State team unveiled to the editorial board of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution a $300 million vision for the site. It came months after the shocking announcement in November 2013 that the Braves were leaving downtown to open a new suburban stadium in 2017.

The Georgia State team was named the winning bidder for the 70-acre property last December. At the time, officials with the agency that own the stadium said they hoped to have a deal in place within 30 days, but negotiations stretched for months.

The Georgia State team has been quiet about their plans during negotiations. But in December, university President Mark Becker said “the Turner Field project will be transformational for the surrounding neighborhoods, the city and our university, and we embrace our responsibility to work closely with community and civic leaders in getting it done.”

Georgia State’s acquisition of Turner Field must still be approved by the state’s Board of Regents, which governs the University System of Georgia.

People familiar with the matter said in recent weeks that they expect a deal to close before the end of the year.

The plan hasn't been without controversy, with some neighbors expressing angst about the plan and concern that community voices would not be heard during planning.

A community-driven master planning session has been underway while the Atlanta Fulton County Recreation Authority, the owner of the stadium, and the Georgia State team were in negotiations on a sale.

Last month, planners working on the Livable Centers Initiative study unveiled concepts of that study, which call for a denser and more walkable community with a street grid much like what was lost decades ago by development of Turner Field and the former Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium and downtown freeways. The study incorporated elements of the Georgia State plan and concepts covering five neighborhoods and more than 1,300 acres.

Georgia State and its partners have pledged to incorporate ideas from the plan into their own.

The bidding process also required the winners to honor Atlanta's sports history and preserve landmarks, such as the Hank Aaron statue, on site.