The city of Atlanta's loss may be Georgia State's gain.
With the Atlanta Braves set to vacate Turner Field for a new home in Cobb County by 2017, Georgia State would like to occupy that space and turn into a sports/shopping/student housing mega-center, part of which would hold a new football stadium. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Panthers would like to repurpose the not-yet-20-year-old stadium that was built for the 1996 Olympics and then remodeled to host the Braves in 1997.
The plan, which would also include a new baseball stadium, along with retail, residential and student housing, would cost a projected $300 million. Georgia State has proposed to reach that number through a combination of private and public funds. With the Braves leaving Atlanta's tax base, perhaps taxpayers would be more likely to pony up for a state university as opposed to a billionaire with his hand out.
“Georgia State has never had these sorts of facilities for its athletics programs,” Georgia State president Dr. Mark Becker told the paper. “We are aware we’ve won three conference championships this year. The program itself is on an upward trajectory. This continues to support a growing and strengthening athletics program, but one that by no means has achieved its potential.”
Moving with the Falcons' to their own new stadium beginning in 2017 is an option, but not an attractive one if Georgia State wants to build a competitive program. It's just so hard - impossible, really - to create a true college atmosphere while drawing an average of 15,577 fans in a 74,000-seat stadium. Technically, the Georgia Dome has a capacity of 31,000 for Georgia State home games, but those seats are still there whether or not they're for sale.
The Panthers are slated to pay close to $75,000 per game to rent the Georgia Dome for its six home games this fall - or more than $450,000 for the season. Extrapolated at that cost for the 32 home games from 2010-14, Georgia State will have shelled out nearly $2.5 million to play, essentially, in an indoor cave.