Explaining Cobb County, the future home of the Atlanta Braves

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In 2017, the Atlanta Braves will leave Turner Field for a new stadium in nearby Cobb County. But what is Cobb County?

No, the Atlanta Braves don't need a new stadium. Well, they think they do, but they don't need one.

But they're building one anyway, and it's about 13 miles away from where they've always played. Thirteen miles might not sound very far, but it might as well be on the other side of the world for some Braves fans.

Let's talk about Cobb County. I happen to be a Cobb County resident who was born downtown. I also don't really like baseball and am kind of unhappy about the move. But let's talk about Cobb County!

Yes, yes, we know.

Former professional wrestler Big Boss Man's listed hometown was Cobb County, Georgia. This is the only thing you've ever needed to know about Cobb County until Monday, so let's just get it on the table right away.

That claim never made any sense, since there are towns in Cobb County. Why wasn't he from a town? There are unincorporated areas, but they are the malls and the Lockheed plant. The Big Boss Man does not look like the kind of man who was raised in a Gap.

There's much more to Cobb County than the Big Boss Man.

Buff Bagwell went to my high school. I used to go to the Steiner Brothers' church. Dusty Rhodes' son, Cody, was born here and prefers the Hawks to the Braves. Many other former pro wrestlers call county seat Marietta home. It's kind of a mini-Tampa in that way. In only that way, I assure you.

As you can see, Cobb County has so many things to offer besides just the Big Boss Man.

Also, The Weather Channel is headquartered here.

Many Braves fans live here.

Your town might not be like Atlanta. Here, the population of the metro area is 6.1 million, while the city itself is about 500,000. While people commute in and out* of the perimeter**, more people live outside the city proper than within it, and more people live north of the city proper than south of it. Cobb County itself has more people (about 700,000) than the City of Atlanta does, FWIW.

The Braves claim this is a map of local Braves fans, based on ticket sales:

Ticketsales_web_medium

Approach such an image with skepticism, since it was made by the business that's trying to sell you on a business thing, but I find it plausible.

The move means the Braves are no longer a part of the sub-community they've been a part of since moving to Georgia in 1966. That is bad. This increases traffic for many people accustomed to going to Braves games without enduring traffic. That's bad. But this works out well for a lot of Braves fans.

* BOY do they commute. Traffic on the north/south I-75 and I-285 loop, already some of the worst in the country, will only get worse. But downtown traffic (and traffic to and from the airport and zoo and so forth) should improve, I guess?

** Learn some Atlantan: "ITP" means "inside the perimeter," and "OTP" means something entirely different. No, it means "outside the perimeter." These are usually used as semi-affectionate slurs that mean, respectively, "traffic and stuff" and "trees and stuff."

Our culture stands up nicely to that surrounding Turner Field.

For 20 years now, the Braves' stadium, originally built for the Olympics*, has been supposed to catalyze some vague good thing for its immediate area. Its immediate area is fine and all, but most of it is an ocean of concrete, cars honking at each other, and lovely neighborhoods. I promise you that Cobb County can meet this qualification.

* This is an important note. The Braves moved out of dilapidated Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium and into an enormous stadium (MLB's fourth-biggest) built for global track-and-field events, neither of which facility they really desired. Monday's news is a surprise, but one way or another it's been a long time coming.

Cobb County isn't hill country.

To hear some ITP folks tell it, Cobb County is a wasteland of survivalists building bunkers beneath Hardee'ses.

Now, no one would pretend this county is some sort of urban wonderland. It's a pretty normal county, and we can objectively call it a pretty nice one -- and a diverse one, too (it's 56 percent white). No one's expecting Braves fans from downtown to fall in love with normal-ass, slightly uppity Cobb County, but the experience of driving to a baseball game, enjoying the baseball game, and driving back home will be about the same on average for most fans.

We have bars, universities, mountains, lakes, a water park, and one of the country's 11 remaining Six Flags locations. And probably somewhere a Publix with a Chick-fil-A in its basement and a Waffle House on its roof. The stadium will be built across the street from Cumberland Mall, which is in the City of Atlanta has an Atlanta address and is a neighborhood or two away from the City of Atlanta. Nearby Marietta and Kennesaw have decent downtown areas. The state's best barbecue joint, Heirloom Market, is a two-minute walk away. Heirloom Market crushes every dining option in and around Turner Field by itself.

And the Kennesaw law about having to own a gun is an unenforced novelty law. I probably shouldn't have mentioned the Kennesaw gun law.

Yes, our school system needs help, as do most around the country. And if public money is being spent on a baseball stadium -- the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports $450 million of it is -- then the entire thing is unacceptable. There's really no rejoinder to that, if it's indeed happening.

All we do, as a people, is demolish perfectly good buildings.

The Georgia Dome was opened in 1992; Turner Field in 1996. In 2017, both will be replaced for a currently estimated $1.8 billion, with something like $650 million of it coming from public money.

The Atlanta Falcons deal is stomachable, since the team's committed to paying for almost all of it plus overages, and the tax portion was going to be spent on the building anyway. The Braves and Cobb County, though, would do well to offer some convincing denials of the currently reported financials. We'll probably be waiting on that for a long time.

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