Atlanta city leaders upset by Braves' departure

Atlanta city leaders upset by Braves' departure

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Shocked, hurt and disappointed.  Those are just some of the words used by Atlanta city leaders to describe how they feel about the Braves' move to Cobb County.  

While the team spent Monday morning sharing details of their plans to move to a new venue near the intersection of Interstate 75 and Interstate 285 for the start of the 2017 season, city leaders were left trying to understand why it's happening. Some told FOX 5 they don't like the decision or how they learned about it.  Others were literally left in tears.

Suzanne Mitchell, president of the Organized Neighbors of Summerhill, was emotional when she told FOX 5 she doesn't like the team's choice.  District Councilmember Carla Smith said she's in shock.

"First it was denial, but now I think I'm headed towards anger," Smith said Monday.  "What about the neighborhood?  We've got plans."

Team officials said in a news conference on Monday morning that they met with Mayor Kasim Reed last Thursday to share the news of their decision, and they added he wasn't pleased about it. 

On Monday afternoon, Mayor Reed issued the following statement on the Braves' departure:

"The Atlanta Braves are one of the best baseball teams in America, and I wish them well. We have been working very hard with the Braves for a long time, and 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.

It is my understanding that our neighbor, Cobb County, made a strong offer of $450M in public support to the Braves and we are simply unwilling to match that with taxpayer dollars. Given the needs facing our city and the impact of Turner Field stadium on surrounding neighborhoods, that was something I, and many others were unwilling to do.

We have been planning for the possibility of this announcement and have already spoken to multiple organizations who are interested in redeveloping the entire Turner Field corridor. Over the next three years, we will be working with our prospective partners to bring residential and business development that is worthy of our city and strengthens our downtown. Those conversations will continue and I am excited about how we use the land that is now Turner Field, to be a tremendous asset for our residents, our city, and our region for years to come."

Turner Field, which the Braves inherited after the 1996 Olympics, is jointly owned by the governments of Atlanta and Fulton County.

Fulton County Commission Chairman John Eaves said he was disappointed to hear of the team's plans.

"We have put millions and millions of dollars into that facility," Eaves said.  

Eaves said he was "blind-sided" by the news.

"[We] should have been given the opportunity of first right of refusal," Eaves said. "If there was a serious offer on the table, certainly we should have been given the opportunity to refute."

Atlanta City Council's Felicia Moore told FOX 5 the city will now look at what caused them to lose the team, and then try to figure out what will take the team's place.

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