Commentary: Dear Braves fans, stop taking it out on Cobb

We didn’t ask for a stadium


Listen you ITP people, there’s no reason to get personal. We Cobb residents didn’t ask for a baseball stadium any more than you Atlantans lobbied to kick the Braves out. Please direct your anger at Braves owner Liberty Media and your own elected officials. Hating on Cobb County is like an ex-wife blaming her husband’s new spouse, even though she’s the one who initiated the divorce.

I haven’t heard such vitriol toward my neighborhood since the mid-90s, when I used to wince whenever people asked where I lived. Then I was embarrassed by our county commission’s anti-gay resolution, which cost us an Olympic venue. Now I am just plain mad. This week I have heard my community called dystopian, fearful, and just plain uncool. Coworkers have brought out the old trope about Cobb refusing MARTA because of racial divides. Get over it, already. That was more than forty years ago. Wheeler, our neighborhood high school, has way more diversity than your hipster charter school. For urbanites espousing to rise above prejudice, you sure can pull out the stereotypes.

And don’t even get me started about walkability. Yes, you loft dwellers can walk to bars. I can walk to the Chattahoochee. My sons spent summers building forts in the woods and safely roaming for blocks playing man hunt until the street lights came on. You call it “green space.” We call it the back yard.

The boys also spent summers going to Braves games. We split a season ticket package with friends, and my eldest was barking for Fred McGriff long before he’d heard of the Georgia Bulldogs. We once lucked into prime seats right behind the dugout. When a foul ball rolled our way, our then-five-year-old son picked it up and tossed it back into play.

Now twenty-four, he had a perspective on the Braves’ move that I hadn’t expected. His immediate fear was that suburban kids would lose their connection to the city. Now, he said, Atlanta was just going to become a place where you go on school field trips. There are only a handful of Falcons games, and they’re just not that kid friendly.

Like most of our neighbors, we moved here because of Atlanta, not because of Cobb County. Your loss is our loss. In a city that measures its history in decades, how could its leaders and the Braves organization be so cavalier about destroying nearly fifty precious years worth of tradition?

So please quit sniping at suburbanites. Like it or not, Cobb County is part of Atlanta now. It’s called a metropolitan area, folks. How many of you carping at Cobb County actually live in DeKalb? I don’t want your damn stadium. Someday I want to take my grandkids to Turner Field and say this is where we watched the Olympics, and over there is where Fulton County Stadium used to be, that’s where your dad tossed a ball back into the game, then take them to the Varsity.

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  • Andrew

    I live in North Fulton, and I feel the sniping at Cobb (as well as the people who live up 400, like me) is kind of warranted. No, you didn’t ask for the stadium, but ask any supposed Braves fan from OTP (particularly those to the north) why they don’t go to Braves games, and one of the most popular responses is and has always been not wanting go downtown. And the supporting reason for that has rarely been because there’s nothing to do. It’s always wariness over traffic or some thinly veiled bit of racial “crack pipe/ghetto/mugging” talk. The irony is going to be that attendance isn’t going to go up in Cobb and Braves fans will have to come up with another excuse for being crummy fans. Traffic will still work though, because this is going to be a disaster.

    • Ptap

      So what is the excuse for the ITPers for not a attending more games? Shouldn’t “the city” be the place that supports its team? Weird to complain about losing “your” team then point the finger at the “others” for not adequately supporting them.

  • coffeerogue

    Real quick. Cobb turned down MARTA 40 years ago and Monday. The 20 year old disapproval of the Gay life style is still on the Books. 20 years of hate my friend. Enjoy your new team.

  • Hayley

    As someone who grew up in Cobb County (less than ten minutes from where the stadium will be built) and now lives intown… I agree with your son but strongly (STRONGLY) disagree with you.

    First of all, your comments about the diversity in Cobb vs. intown are way off base–and frankly rather offensive. There is a pretty distinct East Cobb/West Cobb divide as far as diversity goes. Yes, Wheeler is diverse, but most high schools in Cobb are not (I know. I went to one.) And, contrary to what you seem to believe, not every intown school is a “hipster charter school.” In fact, most of them aren’t. Maybe your wealthier intown friends send their kids to such schools, but they are not the norm in the part of the city. Sure, it’s convenient to you to ignore the racial and socioeconomic implications of this move–but that doesn’t mean they don’t exist. As another commentor said, the ITP/OTP line is HUGE for some people. And as someone who currently lives about a mile from the Ted, anyone who calls this part of town the “slums” clearly has never been to the actual slums.

    Secondly, your arguments defending the suburbs (green space vs. backyard, etc) only prove the point about why so many people are upset: the city and the suburbs are not one and the same, whether or not their postal address says “Atlanta.” The Ted feels like part of the city–Cumberland Mall does not. Once again, I grew up very close to where the new stadium might go in, and though sometimes I’d tell out-of-staters that I was from “outside Atlanta,” I never EVER felt like I lived IN Atlanta. Cobb County and the city of Atlanta have very different identities–something I’ve experienced firsthand having lived in both places.

    While I understand your anger at people who blame Cobb for this decision, that doesn’t excuse your condescension, racial insensitivity, or your prejudice.

    • Betsy

      I could have sworn I said I AGREE with you that the Braves should stay at Turner Field. I am not sure how I am “ignoring the racial and socioeconomic implications of this move” when I do not support it? We deliberately did not “jump the creek” to the non-diverse high schools further east and north in Cobb County. I suppose I am defensive because I often find the very people who criticize me for living in a non-diverse area actually live in areas which are LESS diverse. Of course, you’re right that the city and suburbs are very different. But we do (or should) share the same interest — which is keeping the city vibrant. Atlanta is the heart and soul of the metro area. Without Atlanta, what would happen to Cobb?

  • George

    Betsy, you complain about your neighborhood getting slammed for one week? That really is quite humorous, because we have been listening to suburbanites SLAM our neighborhood for DECADES! I live in Grant Park and I love it here, but to hear some OTPers talk, you would think the Turner Field area is like South Central Los Angeles during the riots. The main reasons city folks are so upset is all we ever hear is how dirty and dangerous our neighborhoods are! Many OTPers will be glad to tell you how much they HATE downtown, yet none of them ever venture past the Turner Field parking lots to see how beautiful the neighborhood really is. I’m sorry if your thin skin can’t take a little criticism, but what you’ve been hearing this week is what we have been hearing for DECADES and quite frankly we are absolutely sick of hearing all the fear and ignorance of suburbanites directed at our downtown neighborhoods.

    • moliere

      This plus 10000.

  • Jay V

    Betsy, it’s pretty hard to defend your position when Cobb County GOP Chairman Joe Dendy says things like “It is absolutely necessary the solution is all about moving cars in and around Cobb and surrounding counties from our north and east where most Braves fans travel from, and not moving people into Cobb by rail from Atlanta.” By wanting ITP folks to “Get over it” do you want us just accept that fact that Cobb’s leadership is just as terrible now as it was forty years ago?

  • J. Winter

    The iconic A on the hat will now represent Applebee’s more than Atlanta.

    I think you’ll enjoy this Betsy…

    The Boys of Summerhill

  • Baker

    “Hating on Cobb County is like an ex-wife blaming her husband’s new spouse, even though she’s the one who initiated the divorce.”

    Okay, maybe. But when the new woman comes into your house and your husband announces he’s leaving…I’m gonna be pissed at both. It is certainly the duty of the man not to sleep with other women, but a single woman should have the decency to not seduce a married man.

    • moliere

      In this case, this would be anger long after the divorce and both parties are single.
      A) Husband was faithful
      B) Wife divorces husband (probably because SHE wanted to marry someone else)
      C) After divorce, husband remarries and wife is still angry/jealous (even if she is still with the man that she left her husband for)

      That is far closer to the scenario that the writer of this piece is describing.

      Look, everyone knows that the Braves are leaving because they aren’t making enough money ITP. But the reason why they are not making enough money ITP is due to the anti-Atlanta attitude of suburban politicians and residents. Just one example: had Cobb, Gwinnett etc. joined MARTA, the games would be far more accessible for them and traffic wouldn’t be nearly the issue/excuse. So, because these counties wouldn’t join MARTA or work with Atlanta to produce any other transportation solution, the Braves were forced to leave downtown to boost attendance. Basically, the suburbs work to create negative situations for the city, and then they blame the city for the negative situations that they themselves created, and benefit from those negative situations rather than trying to sell themselves. The suburban counties do not market their own assets when trying to attract employers, residents, etc. Instead, they market not being Atlanta. And this is what causes the negativity that the ITP has towards OTP.

      • Ptap

        The assertion that the braves didnt get enough support because of Cobb/OTP folks being elitist/exclusionary seems off base. The bulk of ticket sales DID come from north Atlanta suburbs for the last several years. Traffic and wariness of crime seemingly did not deter suburbanites from coming. To me, the issue is that Atlanta proper is not and has not been enough of a baseball town to fill the seats. The braves have been supported through viewership for a long time by people all over the southeast. This is great, and very central to their identity. It does not translate to butts in seats, though. The population ITP just doesn’t go to games like the club would like. Maybe this is because of population dynamics that stem from this or that 40 or however many years ago. But make no mistake, the reasons for this move are economic. The braves are moving closer to where their modern fan base lives, and moving where they can own, develop, and profit from the surrounding area. Many people are citing the fact that the area around the Ted isn’t a slum or dangerous. I fully agree. I also don’t have a lot of sympathy for the whole it’s difficult to get there argument, because I think it is plenty easy. However, if you have ever been to some of the wonderful ballparks in this country, you know that there is a stark absence of things to do around the Ted. There is no scene around the home of a ballclub with such a rich heritage, and this is a shame. It is also a shame that the scene around the new ballpark will probably feel like an old navy commercial.

        So debate the implications and causes all you want, but it is silly to point fingers at Cobb residents for this. The braves made a financially opportunistic move and got a deal they couldn’t get in Atlanta. The powers that be in the ATL threw a bunch of money at a new retractable dome for the falcons and wouldn’t give the braves the same shake. And frankly, if the ITP doesn’t support the team, why should the organization balk at going where they are supported? I mean, if you don’t love and nurture your wife/husband, surely you shouldn’t flip out and act surprised when he/she leaves you…….

  • moliere

    First, we despise the “fiscally conservative” posture of Cobb when it comes to projects that mutually benefit Cobb and Atlanta (not just transportation by the way) but their perfect willingness to pork-barrel it when it comes to things that benefit only them. They are also the first at the line with their hands out when state and federal money comes. Cobb’s politicians – and a lot of their residents – simply despise Atlanta and we cannot pretend otherwise.

    As for the “Cobb is diverse” thing: it isn’t about who LIVES in an area but who has power. Atlanta is one of the places in this country where black people have political, economic and social power AND the result has not been, well, Detroit. Instead, Atlanta is largely a prosperous, well-run city. This drives the “conservatives” crazy. Look, even the ardent Jim Crow advocates wanted blacks living in their areas. After all, who else was going to be the maids, cooks, janitors, unskilled laborers etc.? The problem is blacks’ having political control, and leveraging that political control into economic power (the same way that “small government conservative” white people do when they have political power).

    Look, we get it that some blacks live in Cobb, and that many of them live in Cobb (and Gwinnett and increasingly Cherokee and other places for the same reason that whites avoid ITP i.e less crime and better schools) but those blacks aren’t in control of Cobb and other suburban areas, and that makes a big difference.

    They have been trashing the city – trying to ruin its reputation – for decades and doing their best to grow at the city’s expense rather than building/attracting things on their own. Even this move is basically ripping off the city yet again rather than build something on its own, and there are plenty of comments from your own county officials with code words about “safety” downtown and “incompetence” from Atlanta, as if this move is due to something “wrong” with Atlanta. As far as “get over the 40 years ago MARTA rejection” thing … why when Cobb still refuses to join public transportation or any other initiatives with Atlanta, including but not limited to the T-SPLOST rejection just last year (and please note that Cobb has passed TWO TAX INCREASES since then!)!!!. And Cobb leaders were part of the cabal that attempted to strip Hartsfield from Atlanta ownership on vague, unproven charges of “corruption” and “mismanagement” (again, code words for “black run”) without even paying Atlanta for the billions that the asset is worth! They even told Atlanta “you didn’t build that”, falsely claiming that Atlanta built the airport with state funds (largely taken from Cobb and the other suburbs), and actually forced the city of Atlanta to provided records to prove that Atlanta built and maintains its own airport with its own funds just like every other municipal airport.

    So after decades of acting this way towards Atlanta, now Cobb residents and politicians want to “come together as a region and work together” because you don’t like a little bad press? Or is it because they don’t want folks ITP to boycott the whole thing because they know that if folks ITP give the Braves the same level of non-support that folks OTP did when it was downtown, the whole thing will turn out to be a mess? (The Braves are building a SMALLER STADIUM for a reason BTW.) That is the whole hilarious part. If Cobb folks want to join with ITP to form a region, then why don’t they act like it when it doesn’t only benefit them? They want ITPers to come spend money on the Braves so they can take the ITP team without incurring too much of a tax hit, but they are still going to be anti-Atlanta conservatives on everything else? If that isn’t “one way street” nonsense what is?

    Bottom line: don’t spend 40 years bashing the city and then complain about “anti-suburban attitudes.”

  • Disgusted

    Oh I thought I was reading Atlanta Magazine but apparently this is the Cobb Crier.

  • Sprawlerific

    “Like most of our neighbors, we moved here because of Atlanta, not because of Cobb County.”

    This sentence is an excellent summary of why it is indeed your fault the stadium is moving. If you wanted to enjoy Atlanta, move to Atlanta. Everyone that moves OTP to be in “Atlanta” but still getting to be away from Atlanta is the problem with the city, and part of the reason why the Braves are “sprawling” out with them. Sprawl is the problem here. Without sprawl, the Braves stay in Atlanta.

    • BetsyR

      One word: school. Do you have kids?

  • Vincent Sollicito

    Lisa Cupid is the only Cobb County Commissioners that has openly expressed any degree of opposition to this so called deal. As such, Tim Lee, JoAnn Birrell and the remaining commissioners deserve every bit of criticism they get. They formed this deal in secrecy and made it public just two week before their binding vote, Tuesday, 11/26 (two days before Thanksgiving). Not only are they going to avoid voter approval, they are not even giving people a reasonable amount of time consider this decision before the Commissioners vote. In addition, the agreement can be made without unanimous support. This should not be the case for a decision of such magnitude. The Cobb County citizens deserve criticism, because despite their reputation for having a small-government, conservative, population, they seem to be willing to support spending 300 million in public money to support a private business. I don’t see how we can’t find 1000 of Cobb’s 700,000 residents who can at least agree that we should not be spending taxpayer’s money on this stadium.

  • Frank

    “And don’t even get me started about walkability. Yes, you loft dwellers can walk to bars. I can walk to the Chattahoochee. My sons spent summers building forts in the woods and safely roaming for blocks playing man hunt until the street lights came on. You call it “green space.” We call it the back yard.”

    So…you have a backyard? What does this have to do with walkability? You still need to get in your car and drive for your errands, do you not? Or do you get your groceries/shopping/Doctor/Dentist/work/entertainment fix all in the woods? Honestly, neither would surprise me.