Ted Turner: ‘I wouldn’t have moved the Braves to Cobb County’

By Maria Saporta

Ted Turner, the former owner of the Atlanta Braves, finally let the world know Wednesday that he would not have moved the baseball team to Cobb County.

Since the deal was announced last November, Turner has been uncharacteristically reserved when asked to comment about the Atlanta Braves plans to leave Turner Field in downtown Atlanta in favor of building a new $672 million stadium in Cobb County. The plan is for the Atlanta Braves to play in a new Cobb stadium in time for the 2017 baseball season.

But during a “fireside chat” at the Technology Association of Georgia’s 2014 Georgia Technology Summit (gathering coincidentally at the Cobb Galleria Centre), Turner let his feelings be known for the first time.

Tino Mantella, TAG’s president and CEO, was asking Turner about his thoughts of the current strained relationship between the United States and Russia.

Left to right: John Nee, assurance partner in PwC’s Atlanta Technology practice; Reggie Walker, PwC Atlanta Market Managing Partner; Ted Turner, Technology Hall of Fame Inductee;and Tom Johnson, former CEO of CNN at TAG’s Technology Hall of Fame event (Photo courtesy of PwC)

Left to right: John Nee, assurance partner in PwC’s Atlanta Technology practice; Reggie Walker, PwC Atlanta Market Managing Partner; Ted Turner, Technology Hall of Fame Inductee;and Tom Johnson, former CEO of CNN at TAG’s Technology Hall of Fame event (Photo courtesy of PwC)

That led Turner to remember a similar time when the United States withdrew from participating in the 1980 Summer Olympic Games in Moscow. That’s when Turner started his own peace-making sporting event — the Goodwill Games.

“We did a lot of work with Russia and the Goodwill Games,” Turner said. “We’ve got to be very careful and respectful of each other. We each have the ability to destroy the world, and I don’t want to see that happen. I like the earth. Time Warner canceled the Goodwill Games. I wouldn’t have canceled them. I wouldn’t have moved the Braves to Cobb County either.”

After the fireside chat, in a one-on-one brief interview, Turner elaborated on his thoughts about the Braves planned move to Cobb, which is made a point of saying was not in Atlanta.

Asked why he was against the move, Turner said: “It’s tradition. I never would have done it. They tried to get me to move the Hawks and I didn’t do it.”

Turner’s ownership and control of the Atlanta Braves was impacted when Turner Broadcasting System merged with New York-based Time Warner, which then merged with AOL. It was then when Turner said he got “canned” from his job at the company he had founded.

But many of his former colleagues and associates are still with the Atlanta Braves and its new owner, Liberty Media. Did Turner express his feelings to the current Braves executives?

“Nobody asked me,” Turner said.

Then as he was walking away from the Cobb Galleria ballroom, Turner observed: “It looks like getting into the Atlanta stadium is going to be a lot easier than getting to a stadium here.”

The Braves currently play in a facility that was originally built as the Olympic stadium when Atlanta hosted the Summer Games in 1996. The plan from the beginning had been to convert the Olympic stadium into a new stadium for the Atlanta Braves after the Games were over.

That stadium has since been called Turner Field — in recognition of either Ted Turner or Turner Broadcasting or both.

Knowing that his namesake stadium likely will be torn down when the new Cobb stadium is built, Turner was asked whether he felt sentimental about that landmark being lost from the city’s skyline.

“The one in Cobb is not going to be named after me,” Turner said. “That’s probably why they want to do this. They can make a lot of money selling the naming rights.”

Turner, who has become a philanthropist devoted to saving the earth, also commented that it doesn’t make much environmental sense to tear down a perfectly good stadium that is less than 20 years old to build a new stadium in an area that is not as well served by transit.

Turner’s final words as he parted ways was: “I like the old stadium.”

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10 comments
Burroughston Broch
Burroughston Broch

atlman "had the same been passed by someone from the (again insert your preferred code words here) Atlanta leadership there would be tar, feathers and pitchfork brigades encircling the capital right now." The City of Atlanta was already tapped out to subsidize Arthur Blank to the tune of $500 million or so. They couldn't afford to keep the Braves as well, just like they cannot afford to repair their $1.1 billion of decayed infrastructure..

atlman
atlman

Guest808   The Braves would have moved anyway. Despite the many who wish to insist that the Braves' move is unique and a clear indictment against the (insert your preferred code words here) leadership of Atlanta, the reality is that pro sports teams have been raiding the suburbs for tax dollars for decades. Liberty Media relocated because Cobb County was willing to hand them what is now known to be (but was largely shielded from the public when the county commission had to hold THEIR ONLY PUBLIC VOTE ON THE PROJECT) well over a half a billion dollars, a lot of which is going to be secretly funneled to well-connected cronies (thanks to a secrecy bill passed by Ron Erhart ... had the same been passed by someone from the (again insert your preferred code words here) Atlanta leadership there would be tar, feathers and pitchfork brigades encircling the capital right now. Sports teams move from the cities to the suburbs and back to the city again seeking tax revenue. Happens all the time, just as it will happen again with the Braves when their current lease in Cobb County expires. Except that 25 years from now, baseball - a sport with an aging demographic - will be a much more marginalized sport, more of a niche sport like NHL and NASCAR, so far fewer people will care.

The Last Democrat in Georgia
The Last Democrat in Georgia

Guest808 I don't think that Ted Turner was in control of the Braves anymore when the current TV deal was signed.  In fact, I think that the current TV deal was signed years after he had lost control of the team and the organization.

Guest808
Guest808

Yea well....Ted shouldn't be talking.  Braves probably wouldn't move if not for the TV deal he signed....one of the worst if not worst in MLb

Guest808
Guest808

Yea well....Ted shouldn't be talking.  Braves probably wouldn't move if not for the TV deal he signed....one of the worst if not worst in MLb

atlman
atlman

@Guest808  

The Braves would have moved anyway. Despite the many who wish to insist that the Braves' move is unique and a clear indictment against the (insert your preferred code words here) leadership of Atlanta, the reality is that pro sports teams have been raiding the suburbs for tax dollars for decades. Liberty Media relocated because Cobb County was willing to hand them what is now known to be (but was largely shielded from the public when the county commission had to hold THEIR ONLY PUBLIC VOTE ON THE PROJECT) well over a half a billion dollars, a lot of which is going to be secretly funneled to well-connected cronies (thanks to a secrecy bill passed by Ron Erhart ... had the same been passed by someone from the (again insert your preferred code words here) Atlanta leadership there would be tar, feathers and pitchfork brigades encircling the capital right now.

Sports teams move from the cities to the suburbs and back to the city again seeking tax revenue. Happens all the time, just as it will happen again with the Braves when their current lease in Cobb County expires. Except that 25 years from now, baseball - a sport with an aging demographic - will be a much more marginalized sport, more of a niche sport like NHL and NASCAR, so far fewer people will care.

The Last Democrat in Georgia
The Last Democrat in Georgia

@Guest808 I don't think that Ted Turner was in control of the Braves anymore when the current TV deal was signed.  In fact, I think that the current TV deal was signed years after he had lost control of the team and the organization.

Burroughston Broch
Burroughston Broch

@atlman "had the same been passed by someone from the (again insert your preferred code words here) Atlanta leadership there would be tar, feathers and pitchfork brigades encircling the capital right now."

The City of Atlanta was already tapped out to subsidize Arthur Blank to the tune of $500 million or so. They couldn't afford to keep the Braves as well, just like they cannot afford to repair their $1.1 billion of decayed infrastructure..

Trackbacks

  1. […] Maria Saporta caught up to the former Braves owner at an event at Cobb Galleria. He told her that he never would have moved the team to the burbs, not that they asked him his opinion. Said Turner: […]

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  3. […] of weeks old, but if you haven’t seen it, I’m sure you were on pins and needles to know what Ted Turner thought of the Braves decision to leave the stadium that bears his name (hint: not a fan!). I guess it’s […]