Turner Field will be renovated in two phases into a football-specific stadium holding about 33,000 fans, according to Georgia State president Mark Becker. The sale was completed Thursday with Georgia State and a private development team reaching an agreement with the Atlanta-Fulton County Recreation Authority.
The first phase will get the stadium ready for play this fall, with a more extensive renovation to follow next year that will be finished in time for the 2018 season.
Becker said the university has always wanted a home of its own for the football program, and buying Turner Field puts two major sports closer to the existing campus and the student body. The Panthers were playing in the Georgia Dome.
“The stadium part really goes back to 2010 when we launched football,” Becker said. “Once you commit to do something you want to do it right. As we’ve been building our football program, we’ve had some success, including playing in a bowl game, but we’re not yet where we want to be.”
Georgia State recently hired a new head coach, Shawn Elliott, and Becker said the future football facility made the Panthers job more attractive, improving the pool of candidates.
“When you look at the new stadium it’s truly an amazing place,” Elliott said. “This will be our home. It’s where we will eat, sleep, work and win.
“We are going from one of the bottom in the league to right to the top of the conference. There’s a tremendous amount of space. We have so many opportunities to make it our own and what we want as far as locker rooms, facilities, training, nutrition. Everything can be right there. It will be tremendous asset as far as recruiting.”
Becker said the school eventually will move its baseball program into a new 1,000- to 1,500-seat baseball field on the site of the former Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium. The baseball team currently plays in Panthersville.
That new ballpark will honor the legacy of the Braves and Hall of Fame slugger Hank Aaron and his record-breaking 715th home run. Construction of that facility will occur after the second phase of the football stadium is finished.
Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.
Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.