“I’ll be able to go out my back door and be at the ballpark,” said former pitching coach Leo Mazzone, who lives in east Cobb. “I think it’s wonderful.”
Area high school baseball coaches are excited about the move, too.
The Braves announced Monday they would be building a new stadium at the intersection of Interstates 75 and 285 as part of a $672 million project on a 60-acre tract of land just outside Atlanta’s perimeter.
Mazzone thinks the move is a natural fit.
“You have some of the best baseball in the country being played here,” he said referring to such travel programs as East Cobb Baseball, as well as the many quality high school programs in the area. “The Braves have noticed, and they have been noted for drafting a those guys.”
That’s especially true when it comes to pitchers. David Hale, a Walker School graduate, was on the Braves’ postseason roster this year. Atlanta also groomed other Cobb pitchers such as Walton’s Blaine Boyer and Pebblebrook’s Chuck James, who both went on to make their big-league debuts with the Braves. Kell’s Zeke Spruill was also drafted by the Braves before being traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks and making his debut this past season.
Former Wheeler coach Dave McDonald said he lives near the area where the stadium will be constructed. He’s already thought about the increased traffic and some of the later nights of hustle and bustle around his neighborhood, but he said this is a winning deal for everyone.
“They are going to have a built-in fan base,” said McDonald, who now the pitching coach at the Lovett School, only about 3 miles south of the projected stadium.
McDonald also understands the enthusiasm for baseball in this area of the metro area.
“Cobb County is going to benefit so much from this move,” he said. “I realize that the Braves are going to lose some of their fans from Henry and Clayton County, but they will have a bustling fan base. The 75 corridor from Cartersville and Calhoun, (with the additional fans from Cobb) — they will double what they lost.”
Former North Cobb and Mount Paran Christian coach Harvey Cochran was happy with the announcement as well.
“Last fall, I went to Boston,” he said. “All around Fenway (Park) were restaurants and shops and things. I think that’s what they want to do with the move. Make it more accessible. Where Turner Field is now, there’s no atmosphere.
“I think (the move) will enhance Cobb County and enhance it a great deal.”
But there’s one thing Cochran would like to see once the Braves get settled in their new home.
While he applauds the organization for allowing high school teams to play a few games at Turner Field each spring, he would like to see the team get more involved with high school baseball in the community.
Still, Cochran can’t see anything but a winning partnership with the Braves moving to Cobb County.
“Everybody that grows up playing baseball in Cobb, from the time he is 5 years old, has the dream of being a major leaguer,” he said. “With the Braves being here, it will be a plus.”