By Collin Kelley
I have a very specific and unique memory about watching the Atlanta Braves in action. It was during the 1992 World Series and I was invited to watch a game from the air – floating high over Downtown in the Goodyear blimp, which was providing aerial footage for the network telecast. The Braves lost to the Toronto Blue Jays, but it was still a thrill.
This was at the iconic Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium, the circular white fortress that not only hosted the Braves, but the Falcons and a concert by The Beatles. It was tough to watch them demolish it in 1997 after the Braves moved next door to Turner Field, the revamped Olympic Stadium nicknamed The Ted. I’ve only been to one Braves game played at The Ted. It just doesn’t have the same magic for me as the old stadium.
Now The Braves are moving again – this time out of the city. The team will still be called the Atlanta Braves, but they will be in Cobb County. The jokes about the Marietta Braves have been coming fast and furious since the announcement last month. The move in 2017 will mean the destruction of The Ted, as Mayor Kasim Reed said a “middle class development” will rise on the site. He envisions a mixed-use scenario like nearby Glenwood Park with townhomes, lofts and small businesses. Perhaps the old Washington-Rawson neighborhood might rise again.
Almost forgotten by history, the Washington-Rawson community was once called one of the city’s finest residential districts and was also home to a thriving center for the Jewish community. Beth Israel and Hebrew Benevolent Congregation had synagogues in the community, which was also home to the original Standard Club. Washington-Rawson was also the location of the precursor to Piedmont Hospital – the Piedmont Sanitorium.
The one-two punch of the Downtown Connector and the original stadium saw the neighborhood obliterated. Surrounding neighborhoods including Summerhill, Mechanicsville and Peoplestown were also heavily affected by progress, but have kept their identities. It would be fitting if Washington-Rawson name was reclaimed and the new community.
As I’ve mentioned in other columns, Atlanta is still quick to tear down its history. The Ted will be just over 20-years-old when the Braves leave for Cobb, and there has been little outcry over the city tearing down its Olympic Stadium. As the newly-created Turner Field Task Force prepares to start meeting in 2014, my hope is that returning those 60-acres to a thriving community is the ultimate outcome.