Atlanta Braves back down saying the Hank Aaron Statue is staying in Atlanta

By Maria Saporta

After more than a year of trying to lay claim to the historic Hank Aaron Statue and seeking to move it to its new ballpark in Cobb County, the Atlanta Braves now say the monument can stay in Atlanta.

In a statement released late Friday, the Braves called the fight over the statue “divisive” and not in the spirit of the Homerun King himself.

Hank Aaron

Doug Shipman, Hank Aaron and Joe Barry Carroll at a lunch honoring sports heroes (Photo by Maria Saporta)

“Nothing could be further from the character of Hank Aaron than the divisive conversations that are occurring over his iconic statue,” the Braves statement read. “As such, the Atlanta Braves have decided that we will no longer contest the eventual location of the statue and will instead focus on how to best showcase Hank’s impact and legacy at SunTrust Park. Part of this will include commissioning a new statue for all baseball fans to see. “

That was actually a solution suggested in Maria’s Metro column a year ago  But at the time, the Braves claimed that they owned the statue and that they had a plan to display it at SunTrust Park.

As recently as two days ago, the Braves indicated they still wanted the statue, but they said they would leave it up to Hank Aaron to decide where he wanted it to stay. That put Aaron in an awkward position because he still is an employee of the Atlanta Braves.

The Braves statement did not indicate why the organization had decided to no longer fight the Atlanta-Fulton Recreation Authority over the statue. The Authority actually thought the Braves had agreed to letting the statue stay in Atlanta earlier this month, but the Braves said there was no such agreement.

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed said Thursday that: “legally the Atlanta-Fulton Recreation Authority has the right to it.” But the Mayor then added: “I think the Aarons should decide that.”

In October 2014, both Billye and Hank Aaron – in an interview in their home – made it clear that they believed the statue should remain in Atlanta. Since then, the Aarons have not wanted to publicly express their opinion because they did not want to get in the middle of the Braves and the residents of Atlanta and Fulton County.

The Braves’ statement went on to say: “Hank Aaron is, and will always be, a significant part of the Atlanta Braves and our proud legacy.  Our sincere hope is that the existing statue will continue to be preserved and displayed in a manner befitting his legacy as the greatest Brave of all time.”

Maria Saporta, Editor, is a longtime Atlanta business, civic and urban affairs journalist with a deep knowledge of our city, our region and state.  Since 2008, she has written a weekly column and news stories for the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Prior to that, she spent 27 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, becoming its business columnist in 1991. Maria received her Master’s degree in urban studies from Georgia State and her Bachelor’s degree in journalism from Boston University. Maria was born in Atlanta to European parents and has two young adult children.

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