A review of the news that made The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s front pages through the decades.

MARCH 26, 2020 UPDATE: Former Braves owner Bill Bartholomay, who moved team from Milwaukee, dies at 91.

Today's AJC Deja News comes to you from the Thursday, April 9, 1964, edition of The Atlanta Constitution.


April 1964 brought thrilling news to Atlanta: a major league baseball team (later identified as the Braves) was moving here, Atlanta-Fulton Recreation Authority Chairman Arthur Montgomery told the the Constitution’s Marion Gaines. Team ownership and local authorities were working hand-in-hand to make something magical happen. The Show was coming South -- to stay.

Almost 50 years later, the Braves were bound for the 'burbs. The revelation in November 2013 that the team would move from downtown Atlanta to a brand new stadium in suburban Cobb County after the 2016 season stunned fans. The Braves' second home, Turner Field, wasn't even 20 years old. Why leave?

Turns out that the Braves, like so many renters, were tired of dealing with their landlord. Their lease was up and greener pastures beckoned. In the team's opinion, The Ted was a perennial fixer-upper that wasn't worth the time, money or trouble.



Back in the spring of ‘64, when Atlanta learned major league baseball was headed here, all talk of stadium leases, costs and scenery changes was considerably happier.

The Braves had agreed to a "15 years plus" lease but "would like a 30-year lease," Atlanta-Fulton Recreation Authority Chairman Arthur Montgomery told the Constitution’s Marion Gaines. Stadium construction would begin immediately. The Fulton County Commission voted to guarantee its one-third share of underwriting construction. The recreation authority and team ownership were committed to bringing professional baseball to town.

“We have come to terms on every point,” Montgomery said, pointing out, however, the deal was “not a sweetheart lease. [The Braves] expect to pay their own way and we expect to get a fair return.”


>> Atlanta Stadium opens in April 1966

>> The history of Turner Field

>> SunTrust Park opening: Metro Atlanta's latest landmark moment

>> Visit our Atlanta Braves homepage throughout the season

By the mid-1980s, Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium was starting to show its age. Its multipurpose circular design, so forward-thinking by ‘60s standards, was seen as bland. Fans sought a more intimate experience at games; the stadium offered nothing of the sort with its poor sight lines and cavernous field dimensions that proved inadequate for baseball and football. Still, the Braves stuck it out.

By April 1997, Atlantans were settling into spanking-new seats at Turner Field, a fast favorite with fans. Atlanta, never a city to wallow in sentimentality, saw the old park demolished and enjoyed its new ball field -- until The Ted, as fans came to call it, turned into the brick-and-mortar equivalent of a teenager experiencing serious growing pains. The Braves tired of footing the bill, as they saw it, for fixes that never really lasted from one season to the next.

"The Braves have invested nearly $125 million in Turner Field," the team said in a statement given to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution the day after announcing the move. "The facility needs $150 million in infrastructure work ... If the Braves were to pay for additional projects focused on improving the fan experience, the additional costs could exceed $200 million."



The City of Atlanta, having already negotiated a deal to keep the Falcons downtown in the new, state-of-the-art Mercedes-Benz Stadium, wasn’t going to ask taxpayers to pony up for another sports facility.

Atlanta Fulton-County Stadium cost a total of $18 million. Turner Field came in at $209 million, $170 million of which was paid by private entities.

“… At the end of the day, there was simply no way the team was going to stay in downtown Atlanta without city taxpayers spending hundreds of millions of dollars to make that happen,” former Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed said after the Braves’ 2013 plans went public. “It is my understanding that our neighbor, Cobb County, made a strong offer of $450 million in public support to the Braves, and we are simply unwilling to match that with taxpayer dollars.”

Opened in March 2017, SunTrust Park nestles cozily in one of Cobb's busiest areas, neatly tucked away between Interstates 285 and 75. Fans flock to The Battery, immersing themselves in shopping, dining and the like as part of the game day experience. Total price for big league ball in the suburbs? More than $1.1 billion.


>> Check out what we've covered before (and again)

In 1963, Charlie Finley, owner of the Athletics, was eager to exit Kansas City. The legendary baseball man told Atlanta Mayor Ivan Allen Jr. that the site just south of downtown at the junction of three major interstates was perfect for a new baseball park.

“You build a stadium here,” Finley said, “and I guarantee you will get a major league franchise.”

Upon seeing the newly-completed Atlanta Fulton-County Stadium greeting visitors and locals alike at the junction of Interstates 20, 75 and 85, Finley raved “Why, there’s not a ballpark in America with a location like this.”

Maybe there wasn’t one then, but there is now. It’s 15 miles north of the old digs and its new tenants plan to stick around for about another 30 years.



In this highly irregular series, we scour the AJC archives for the most interesting news from days gone by, show you the original front page and update the story.

If you have a story you'd like researched and featured in AJC Deja News, send an email with as much information as you know. Email: malbright@ajc.com. Use the subject line "AJC Deja News."

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