Braves Say AAA Team Will Remain in Gwinnett Co.

Coolray Field

(From Sports Business Journal, November 18, 2013)  The Atlanta Braves are planning on moving to Cobb County and hope that this move will go much better than the move to Gwinnett County by their AAA affiliate team.  The Gwinnett Braves move in 2009 got off to a rather rough start.  The team moved from Richmond, Virginia to one of Atlanta’s northeastern suburbs hoping to take advantage of the market’s north side population increase and to create a missed-use development surrounding the park. Unfortunately the missed-use development around Coolray Field, where the Gwinnett Braves play, has not happened. The park opened in the beginning of the recession, and of the five seasons the team has played in Gwinnett, the team at best has been 12th in attendance in the 14-team International League. With the Charlotte Knights planning to move to a new park next year, the Gwinnett Braves are expected to rank 14th in attendance in 2014. While things seem rather unfortunate for this ball club, the Atlanta Braves club says they remain firmly committed to the team.

The new location for the Major League Baseball team is roughly the same distance from Coolray Field as Coolray Field is from Turner Field. “We still believe firmly in the long-term viability of Gwinnett,” said Derek Schiller, the Braves Executive Vice President of Sales and Marketing. “There were some missteps early, but we think they will be a great complement to a big club in Cobb County. And certainly from a player development perspective, we’ve already seen lots of benefits having our top affiliate just 35 miles or so away.”

Minor League Baseball executives agree that there were misfires and rushed construction in opening Coolray Field in 2009, but also they believe these issues can be helped by the move to Cobb County. “You only get the one chance to make a first impression, and there were mistakes in opening Gwinnett,” said Pat O’Conner, Minor League Baseball President. “But my instinct is that this Cobb project will be a win-win for both teams and will allow the Braves to take further advantage of the growing influence in the market north of downtown.”